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Eccentric Island Home

2013 New Trad designer Taylor Borsari gives this vacation home a "hip granny" vibe

Written by Darra H. Baker
  • Karyn R. Millet

    Truman Capote once wrote of islands: “To set foot on one is like starting up a gangplank. One is seized by the same feeling of charmed suspension: It seems nothing unkind or vulgar can happen to you.” That sentiment still holds today on Coronado Island, off the southern tip of California.

    “It’s like stepping into another time,” says California native and Las Vegas-based designer Taylor Borsari of the isle where she transformed the interior of an unusual 1890s Cape Cod-style green-shingled residence into a playful beach house befitting its funky architecture and the young family that spends time there.

    “My clients don’t live here full-time, so we were able to take much more liberty with pattern and color than if they lived here year-round,” says Borsari. “This house has an eccentric vibe about it.”

    Craving more energy than the all-white slate chosen by the developer provided, Borsari and her clients decided on a “hip granny feel.” They layered madcap wall coverings and patterns that “almost could have been there before,” says Borsari.

    Above: The Cape Cod-style green-shingled home.

    Photography: Karyn R. Millet

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Living Room

    “We built a story around the yellow China Seas curtains from Quadrille,” says designer Taylor Borsari. “We wanted it to be inviting, bright, and playful.” Staying within a second-house budget, Borsari added only new lamps, accessories, side tables, and fresh natural fabrics, giving the space a “come sit with me feel.” 

  • Karyn R. Millet


    To embrace the existing blue and brass La Cornue range, Borsari surrounded it with Moroccan tiles from Mosaic House. A custom-designed butcher-block-topped island with Moroccan-inspired details brings exotic charm to the room. 

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Family Room

    Exotic patterns flow from the kitchen into the adjoining family and dining rooms, using Near and Far East-inspired textiles. “We wanted to avoid the red, white, and blue cliché of a beach house,” says Borsari. A Moroccan-inspired fabric from Martyn Lawrence Bullard anchors the sugar-hued room. The patinated coffee table is from Restoration Hardware. Earthy indigo accent cushions from Raoul Textiles and Quadrille continue the exotic pattern play of the curtains. 

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Dining Room

    Peter Dunham’s large-scale paisley pattern from Hollywood at Home gives a traditional nod to the dining room. Eames fiberglass chairs with Prince Charles dowel bases provide an industrial edge and are virtually indestructible in the oft-used breakfast and dining area. A vintage chandelier plays perfectly with the room’s more substantial pieces. 

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Antique Cabinet

    An antique cabinet is filled with beach-inspired items. 

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Master Bedroom

    This bedroom is defined by its perfectly paired patterns—Galbraith & Paul wallpaper, drapery fabric from Schumacher, headboard upholstery from Mark Alexander, and bench upholstery from Michael Devine. 

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Custom Chair

    A custom-designed chair is covered in a neutral fabric from Malabar. The overscaled wallpaper offers a dramatic backdrop.

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Girls' Bedroom

    Tropical shades of aqua, yellow, and coral enliven the imagination in this wanderlust-themed bedroom. Borsari wallpapered the formerly bland white walls in slumber-party-ready “Regina Fiesta” from Pindler & Pindler and painted Restoration Hardware’s standard-issue white “Millbrook” iron bunk beds a cheeky turquoise.  

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Boy's Bedroom

    A patterned wall covering from Peter Dunham Textiles sets a playful yet stylish theme in this young boy’s room. A striped rug from West Elm offers the perfect scale.

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Boy's Room Artwork

    A pair of paintings from Pottery Barn Kids play off the wallpaper’s palette.

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Loft Bedroom

    In an attic room complete with a steep-pitched tongue-and-groove ceiling, Borsari papered the walls with a funky yellow rose pattern, then layered in patterns—acid lemon on the custom upholstered headboard and coral rose shades in bedding—to give it a fresh kick The mix of patterns embodies the Bohemian-granny spirit of the attic room (and the rest of the historic-yet-lively 1890s beach house). 

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Loft Wallpaper Detail

    The wallpaper from Sanderson was inspiration for the home’s scheme. 

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Cool Porch

    On the front porch, colorful pillows from Quadrille give an indication of the pattern-play to come.

  • Karyn R. Millet

    Interior Designer Taylor Borsari's Tips of the Trade

    • Use texture. It’s important to recognize and play with contrasting textures—like an embroidered pillow with a beautiful linen weave against a clean cotton print.
    • Apply pattern. Use bold pattern liberally to enliven a space, and offset it with small doses of other patterns in differing shades.
    • Rethink your existing pieces. Re-cover pieces in a fun fabric, or repaint them in an unexpected color to give them new life. For example, an old brass starburst mirror felt frumpy, so we painted it a bright yellow.
    • Embracing color can be liberating. Instead of keeping the standard white on iron bunk beds, we painted them bright turquoise. Just dive in!
    • Experiment in small places. You’ll gain the courage to take on bigger projects with your small-space successes.