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Achieving the ‘California Casual’ Style: Accessories


Photo by Tessa Neustadt

Welcome to our last installment about the ever-trendy ‘California Casual’ look. I know that some of you will be sad, but wipe those tears with your washed linen and frayed napkins and move on because we have many more styles to do (like what?). I think at this point you get the style – it’s a lot of neutral colors, tones and textures, simple shapes but in refined finishes, organic objects that look ‘found’ and thrown together. And anything that looks like it must have been handmade – the wonkier the better.

Photo by Tessa Neustadt

We’ve rounded up furniture, lighting, art and textiles and now it’s time to get into the details and show you some accessories.

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While there is some ‘collecting’ happening it tends to be on the more “minimal” side of things.

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SHHH. Everything is very, very quiet.

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Pots are a big thing here and vessels of any kind are invited to stay (well, except for glass vessels or anything garish with too much metallics). It’s funny, about 15 years ago California coined and promoted Hollywood Regency revival and this feels completely the opposite. It’s like we had our share of decorative shiny and metallic finishes and shapes and are now leaning the opposite direction. It’s THIS close to Shabby chic and yes, we are into it (sans the faux-aging).

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As far as styling these accessories go – you literally hold them all in your arms, close your eyes and then throw them up in the air. Wherever they land, they live! It’s super effortless and thrown together! Jk. You can layer them in front of each other with contrasting shapes, textures and very subtle patterns or line them up and take a the more minimalist approach.

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Photo by Brittany Ambridge for Surf Shack

The only part of this style that I’m not that into is the incense/crystal thing. I mean, I’ve bought them for shoots and I think they are pretty but it’s true that I don’t really get their powers (although I know people SWEAR by them).

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We could have rounded up like 120 more of these, but we narrowed it down for you. Remember in CC land you can find a big rock, wrap some raffia tightly around it and set it on your coffee table – while many of the accessories can certainly be expensive, they don’t have to be. You could take dried leaves and create a mobile or put a collection of twigs underneath a cloche and tell your friends you got it at Nickey Kehoe 🙂

1. Firefly Rocks | 2. Albert Candle Holder | 3. Small Carved Bowl | 4. Basket Top Stone Bowl | 5. Peterman Ebonized Bowls | 6. Wood Bead Taper Holder | 7. Beechwood Plant Pedestals | 8. Small Glass Vase | 9. Oversized Wood Link Chain | 10. Woven Pumpkin Basket | 11. Trifoot Ceramic Bowl | 12. Black Rings Dish | 13. Ceramic Centerpiece Bowl | 14. Dried Cholla Cactus Segment | 15. Carved Hand | 16. Zura Floor Basket | 17. Modernica Case Study Hex with Walnut Stand | 18. Ceramic Bowl | 19. Judy Jackson Vase Set | 20. Petrified Wood Pyramid | 21. Round Wooden Cutting Board | 22. Lunar Ivory Vase | 23. Wire Gem Art | 24. Leather and Brass Bowl | 25. Yes Ceramic Small Pot | 26. Topanga Bamboo Hurricane | 27. Handmade Door Stop | 28. Wooden Large Bowl | 29. Small Speckled Gray Planter | 30. Soapstone Pillar Candleholder Set | 31. Wooden Spoon | 32. Kunya Tray | 33. Fladis Basket

Don’t forget to check out the other roundup in this series – california on a budgetfurniturelighting, art and textiles.

So what style is next? We’d love it to be something on the horizon, and not too general (not like Bo-ho) because I think that those already exist and any site could do them. Honestly so many of the pieces that we have put in our round-up (especially the furniture) could work in so many trendy or classic styles right now, but it’s fun to create a new character.

I’m thinking ‘Pacific Northwest Urbanite Who Misses The Mountains’ OR how about ‘Formerly Wealthy Daughter of a Parisian Aristocrat who Loves Nice Things But Has No Money Because She Married A Not-Yet-Successful Artist’.

Fin Mark


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I love both of the ideas for future style round ups. Pleas please do more of these they are so helpful!


This is such an amazing style design. It’s a little Scandinavian, a little MCM, a little hipster, and a whole lot of sunny California! This style is very big in Nashville at the moment, sans the dated barnwood and giant letters that say “Nashville.” I am a huge fan of this. Thank you for this series: I’m sad to see it go!


Me too! I have really enjoyed each of these features and have bought several things, so thank you!


This style is SO NUANCED!!! You’re right it is THIS close to Shabby Chic. I’m constantly terrified I’m creating Shabby Chic and have to tweak things just a bit and it goes back to CC.

I’d love to see a post on custom light fixtures.


Oh yes to the latter style! Cliche to love all things Parisian, I know, but I do. Not sure I have the budget to find my true style but it’s really fun to look and dream.


I totally second this <3


This series was so great! Keep ’em coming! I’ve always wondered how to define the NYC style. You know, the other side of the country! I know its pretty industrial but I think it would be fun to really delve into the details of that.


What about like East Coast preppy done right (that is, a la Emily)? You know: piped bedding, fun wall papers, bright contrasting pillows, nautical notes. After all those neutrals I’m ready for some fun color!


Yes! I was hoping for a “Hamptons Style” breakdown. I love that laid back, luxury, nautical vibe, but when I’ve tried implementing in my own home it either goes way too nautical or way too shabby chic. Not good!


Those made me laugh. As a Pacific Northwest Urbanite Who Misses the Mountains, I vote for that one please!! But then, you could do Siberian Minimalist With a Lava Lamp Collection and I would probably want what you put together. Love your posts!


Some of these styled pictures are SO gorgeous. I just love the simplicity of it all, and it does feel peaceful.. I, however, am still not getting the “big wooden bead necklace” on the table (draped on a chair) look. Ha.

Sarah D.

How about ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Queen Wins a Scratch Off & Has More Money Than Usual To Spend On Eclectic Lifestyle’ or ‘Antique Dealer With Penchant For All Things Bold & Conversational Takes A Stab At Minimalism’….would love to see more colorful, patterned, interesting decor paired with a minimalist approach.

Yes yes yes to the 2nd one. I am a color+pattern+art+antiques with character lover and my boyfriend is a minimalist architect. We don’t share a home yet but I wonder ALL THE TIME about how we will be able to combine our 2 aesthetics once we do. Gallery wall and colored pillows meets concrete floors? Help haha


You are so funny. I love how much thought goes into the substance of your posts and then how irreverently they are written. I honestly feel like I’m gabbing with a hilarious girlfriend. Thank you!!!

Sophia F.

Since we just move to Seattle and painted the living room in our 1906 house a deep mossy green… I vote for Pacific Northwest Urbanite who Misses the Mountains! In all seriousness though, this series has been one of your most helpful to me. California Casual isn’t my personal favorite style, but in seeing you trace its thread through furniture, art, lighting, and accessories, I’ve learned a lot about style cohesion and making sure different aspects of decor are sending the same message. Definitely gives me a lot to think about in our new place!


it looks like there’s a new modern coming to town, that is almost a touch 80’s (which I was shocked to get myself in your quiz) if I am not describing this well, think west elm’s 2017 lines, consort design’s style?

Anything you pick will be fabulous, this has been beyond helpful and inspiring!


HA! I vote for ‘Formerly Wealthy Daughter of a Parisian Aristocrat who Loves Nice Things But Has No Money Because She Married A Not-Yet-Successful Artist’. For real =)


How about something like East Coast (or even Parisian?) sophisticated? Something completely in contrast to this style with color and history?


Please do New England Farmhouse! You know, not the Texas farmhouse but sorta old world, saltbox with hydrangeas outside and looks like there may be an ocean nearby.


Yes! Coastal!


On a very personal level, I wish you wouldn’t do the Parisien… I’m a French mother of two who just moved from France to the SF bay area, and, except for a few friends I love and who consider me a real person, I’m constantly fighting this idea that “French/Parisian is fantastic”, and it’s driving me crazy. Also, French style seeing by Americans (and other nationals) is nothing I recognize, exactly like I know no real “typical American” the way we may (wrongly) picture them in Europe… Yes, things are different from one country to another, and yes, apparently, I was the only mother sending her kids with a lunchbox complete with ustensils and a cloth napkins (I discovered this 4 months in…), and yes, my kids may have better table manners, but when have table manners ever saved the world ? Who ever said: “Hitler ? Bad guys, but there’s something good to say for his table manners !”. Also, yes, I do have a very reduced quality wardrobe… because I got interested in the American concept of capsule wardrobes and tweaked it my way when we moved with two tiny trunks ! Decorating ? What kind of blog… Read more »


I like the Granny’s or Nerdy ideas!


I like the idea about how to use antiques (especially family pieces that you didn’t have any part in choosing) without going too granny.


Liked the CC furniture and lighting posts. Wasn’t feeling this or the art one because they don’t fit my personal style (I like mostly neutral basics but then add punches of pep / color). I thought I’d be into these follow-up posts since I like the cc furniture so much (I guess that goes to show how versatile the furniture is). Can’t wait to see what you guys cover next!


This style is nice and your post made me buy the surf shack book. I also have to add that I have your last book Emily . I need more color , your post on this style have been great I look forward to see what style you explore next.


Formerly wealthy daughter……


Such a fab series, just love it. PLEASE indeed do “old money meets no money”……French, Brit, any version of continental ok by me. Also a style many attempt, but few master. Keep up the good work over there…. Love reading you all the way down here in South Africa!


Do Art Deco style reimagined for 2017!


OK, I get it was a joke but . . . I kind of want to wrap a rock in raffia now 😛


ooh, and for the next series anything that channels your inner grandma would be great!


Oh! Nathalie! I’m with you! It would be fun to explore all of the different styles “your inner grandma” would encompass! I’m currently channeling about six different grandmas in my home. The hubs and I have pieces handed down through both families and precious little in our home that’s new-ish. The oldest piece dates back to the late 1800s (an iron bedstead) to the ‘newest’ old piece from the late 1960s (secretary’s chair). It’s kind of funny to note that, as we are progressing with our decluttering in hopes of achieving a cleaner look, it seems that 90% of what we’re kicking to the curb is the new-ish stuff. It’s just not as well made as the old stuff.

Is there a thing called ‘organic modern industrial that is also safe and comfortable for crazy toddlers’? I’m picturing lots of white, green and metal for this, but then the metal edges scare me when one of my kids takes a gash on their cheek. Or is there a thing called ‘newer mid-century modern for the people that still really like this genre but realize it got a bit over saturated and are hoping their house doesn’t look soooo 2014’? I still love my walnut furniture and lots of pastels and whites and brass, but else should I be adding to my rooms for a facelift?


Yes, please! Do the latter. The starving artist with expensive taste!
This post is solid gold. I love every photo and object. Go, team.

LOVE these posts! Was wondering if you can do a barstools one for the kitchen? Or maybe dining chairs in general! I am having the hardest time finding the right barstools {preferably ones with backs}. Thanks!!!


No matter how much I try, I just can’t make this style speak to me. I love the serenity of it but I think in the long term I’d end up craving more color. Could you do a series like this using a style that includes more color?? Lots of color! Like the “eclectic style.” Where it looks like people just took a bunch of stuff and threw it in a room in a super cool way. Except you know it took way more thought and is actually really difficult to do right.

But this kind of style would be fun if I was choosing an AirBnB and I wanted to really relax. I do admit it’s very serene.

Search Maximalism on Pinterest. I “discovered” it a couple weeks ago and it is exactly what I want. I would have suggested it as a style for Emily to cover, but I think the secret to doing it well, is doing it over time. I’m finding that the pieces of furniture or art that I purchased because I LOVE them continually fit where I need them to and with things that I wouldn’t expect and it’s the stuff I bought to “fill a need in the moment” that end up on craigslist a couple years later.

Maybe the secret to Maximalism is embracing Minimalism while you wait for the perfect pieces:)


Loved this series! Please do Adult That Loves All Things Cute And Blush Pink And Wants To Shop From The Kids Aisle But Nothing Is The Right Size next??


I second that motion!

I stopped scrolling on #17 in the round up. Officially this is a planter, but I want it in a slightly larger size as a hamper!

Now I’m going to be obsessed with an idea that doesn’t exist IRL. Sort of like these checkmark bookshelves (I’ve seriously considered trying to find a wood worker to make them for me). They exist, but are unavailable for sale.


Maybe something with color after all those browns and whites? I have a blue Marimekko unikko comforter in my guest bedroom. I can’t for the life of me figure out what to put with it. Does all the art need to look like it was made by Marimekko? Can I use dark wood or just light? Should everything be modern or can I used antiques? Can I put other colors or have I used up my color quota with that big blue flower comforter so everything else needs to be white? I’m going cross-eyed just thinking about it!


What about ‘California Casual’: clothes? i would love this!


hahaha, love the suggestion of ‘Formerly Wealthy Daughter of a Parisian Aristocrat who Loves Nice Things …’ which is where this California Casual girl is going. I really liked that Shabby Chic look, but that was before it was butchered with people flinging bicycle chains at perfectly lovely pieces they got from their grandparent’s, then slathering them with white paint and calling it “finished.” I also gravitated to boho, having grown up in that era (what, didn’t everyone do macrame during summer vacation, and who can forget “God’s eye” hangings with popsicle sticks?), but it tends to look contrived to me, maybe because every single element is crammed into one room. Restraint, please! I would love to see old world revived with modern textures, what I call the “Faded Contessa in her Tumble-down Palazzo” without going too Grey Gardens.


I really liked the Shabby Chic look albeit the simpler more honest version. The Shabby Chic look as per Rachel Ashwell was a whitewashed, clean lined home with a softened, feminine influence. Vintage items and linens were used in a limited palette. I found her interiors to be restful, calm and relaxing without being boring even though not all of them were to my taste. I disliked the majority of the takeoffs on her style as they generally seemed to be too cluttered, too busy, too over the top and looked like they were trying too hard to be Shabby Chic.

You could do a Midwest Is Best/Children of the Corn style for all the Ohio via Indiana girls like me. Amish hexes, quilts, and everything you can fit in your minivan from your yearly excursion to the IKEA three hours away.


Ok, so I have no idea what this “style” is called, but the bold art-deco colored tiles and circular pendants and brass accents and velvet seating…look is something I’m super into. The first picture on Hotel Penache’s website is like that, and this restaurant called Oretta in Toronto has nailed the look. Any chance you’d be willing to do something like this?? I instantly pin anything that has this type of vibe, ha!


Yes to Pacific Northwest Urbanite who misses the Mountains! I’d love to see how to incorporate a sophisticated mountain vie without going to log-cabin or too generic (no more layers of brown!).


Yeah!! That would be interesting to me too!


Ooo second sounds fab.. Would love to see it


I loved this series, I didn’t realize I should leave out the glass in trying to achieve this look. I’ll try doing that and see if I can pull it off better than I have been. Thanks! Also, I vote for doing the Pacific northwest urbanite roundup.


Love these – and would love to see something like “Pacific Northwest Americana!”


I loved the line: SHHH. Everything is very very quiet. So funny and true.


Wealthy daughter of Parisian Aristocrat with no money – PLEASE!!!! pretty please?


PS. When do you these styles could you give a kid-friendly option? And I don’t mean a kid’s room, I mean, here’s my grown up gorgeous Parisian style house that kids won’t destroy within minutes of entering the room. Maybe accessories that look fancy/expensive but kids won’t break just by looking at it, ya know?


Please never stop the CC series I love it so much!! ?


Yes! Daughter of a Parisian Aristocrat! That perfectly describes how I want my style to read the moment you open my front door. I would love some tips on how to make that happen – other than lots of beautiful books, I have that part down on my own.


PNW-er here hoping to purchase a craftsman home (soon). Any help with how to work with dark wood paneling, built-ins, leaded glass, tiny kitchens, and constant rain would be a huge plus for me! It’s just on the line of traditional and so easy to skew granny – how to keep it clean and fresh? Thanks!


Alyssa: I highly recommend Deuce Cities Hen House blog for you! “Scoops” has an old house in Minnesota filled with modern furnishings and it looks awesome. Would translate well to PNW, I think!
PS – This is not my blog, I just like her style and writing 🙂


You are an amazingly talented designer and an inspiration to so many. You have inspired me to refresh my home, which brought newness to our lives. Don’t ever let anyone get you down. Don’t ever let haters, and people filled with envy and jealousy steal your joy or hinder you. You are valued by many. Hold your head up high and keep creating and keep inspiring!

I think that you didn’t present all the styles that your style quizz had. I was “modern zen” or something similar and would love to read about it.


Love these! I’m really into this type of post – the combo round up and info about a particular style. If you’re looking for one to do next I’d love to see that contemporary style – like the style you showed in the dwell post!!


I vote you do “broke 20s chic” where every sofa is under $500, and the accessories are diy projects or target clearance. ?
Let’s not forget the hand-me-down starter furniture and the inability to paint the walls.


OMG both of those ideas sound amzing! This series of roundups has beeen THE BEST, no yperbole. It’s not even my style, but I just love to see how everything comes together. That Pacific Northwest–vibe sounds awesome. I always love the aesthetic of Schoolhouse Electric catalogs, the way they style things is a little bit midcentury, a little National Parks-y (is that a thing?). Anyway, crazy about this blog. Never change!

Sherrie S

This post is hilarious!!!! “twigs in a cloche and tell friends it’s from Nicky Kehoe” – Yes, Emily – YOU ARE BACK. Thank you.

Micaelan Davis

I love the “formerly wealthy daughter….” idea but it could also be helpful and unique to do it by country. In my own space I’m always interested in Italian and Japanese design. Then you get the historical bent too and it keeps it trend-less. Or you could go broader and do “Euro-inspired” which is always a trend, right!


I loved this “California Casual’ series…so so so so much! My favorite part of your blog is that you and your team take so much time to round up all these products (both high and low end) so we don’t feel so overwhelmed shopping the internet. I would LOVVVVE to see more power couple posts! Like maybe a new bed and nightstand round-up…yeaaasss paleasse!

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