Catherine Masi rents a 750-square-foot loft nestled above a house’s garage in Santa Barbara, California. Her design style is a mix of thrifted finds and gifts from family and friends. “I’d describe my place as a vintage haven lovefest,” she says. Here she shows us her dreamy home…
On discovering your color story: Pay attention to the colors that your eyes seek out in a sea of colors. Color stories can evolve over time, but mine usually have soft pinks, which represent love and a gentle spirit; moss green because it’s in nature; and right now I’m rolling with saffron, which feels like a hit of sunshine.
On hanging out: When I’m enjoying alone time, there’s always a snack involved, and I read a lot. I just finished Julia Child’s My Life in France, which was a remarkably comforting escape from the world.
Floral divider: vintage. Marble table stand: World Market.
On creating different areas: I’ve long lived in small spaces, so I’ve learned to section out the space. I use drapes and a vintage screen to separate my bedroom, and then a rolling island introduces the kitchen.
On vintage shopping: Hit those yard and estate sales; tell family and friends to think of you when they see anything that someone over 87 would love, and of course explore Etsy. I use the keyword ‘vintage’ in every Etsy search and then go down a rabbit hole.
On knowing when to splurge: I’ve learned to live within my means. I created a move-in budget and put a good chunk toward this table because I needed a big work desk. The table also encourages my dreams of getting back to dinner parties, post pandemic.
On single living: Life unfolded in a way that I’m child-free and unpartnered at this stage. As a child, I imagined I would be married and adopt ten kids. In real life, I’m not a mom and am divorced. But my ex-husband and I are close friends, and I’m an aunt and godmother (and hopefully a dog mom, soon!), which has been a wildly fulfilling blessing. Being single has given me this incredible gift to learn that my happiness and sense of fulfillment is not dependent on anyone else. Also, I genuinely enjoy my own company.
On honoring loved ones: My grandfather came from generations of ornate furniture craftspeople in Italy. You can see the smudges of his fingerprints in the paint on this dresser. It reminds me of my roots and how art is in my blood. It also reminds me of my mother, who passed away when I was six. Anything connecting her to my home brings me comfort.
On finding inspiration: I love illustrated children’s books. They’re so colorful and freeing. I also find decor ideas from movies from the 1920s to 1960s. I also like experimenting with what I already have; moving things around gives everything a refresh.
Kitchen island: Hand-me-down. Ceramic pot: Similar.
On gathering with loved ones: I’ve lived here for eight months and haven’t had the chance yet to host large parties. But, to me, the golden rules of hosting work for any size home: put out a selection of Trader Joe’s treats on pretty dishes, create sitting areas — add floor pillows if you don’t have enough seating — and get into connected conversations. Ditch the small talk and dig into real life. I’ve found that all anyone wants is to feel welcome, relaxed, and fed.
Convection oven: Amazon.
On cooking in a tiny space: It’s an efficiency kitchen, so I keep it simple with one hotplate, a toaster oven, and a few pots and pans. My go-tos are mozzarella on pasta with lots of good olive oil, and Trader Joe’s pizza.
On the loft’s quirks: I am hard pressed for storage space, and I sometimes bump my head on the bedroom alcove ceiling. I also live above the main house’s garage, so anytime the garage door opens (which is not often), the loft does a little shimmy!
On finding your style: When decorating your home, write down what you want, what you need, what you love, and what the purpose of the space is. Go easy on yourself and imagine your best self unfolding.
Thank you so much, Catherine!
(Photos by Leela Cyd for Cup of Jo.)