Simply Escapist in Santa Cruz

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Artist Michelle Stitz enjoys “old things which are somewhat odd, imperfect, occasionally demanding and authentic,” she states. After living for seven years in a warehouse space shared by artists, she purchased her own house in Santa Cruz, California. The house came with a lush backyard and a streamlined garden shed.

With assistance from friends and a little “spit shine,” as she states, Stitz altered her outside space to a creative environment which she can share with like-minded travelers. “I found myself particularly drawn to the back corner under the willow tree for solace and inspiration, so my friend Nate and I worked on the garden shedand fixed it up,” states Stitz.

The drop, which was initially only an outside “staycation” space for her friends, is now available for lease. Says Stitz, “I’ve since hosted several down-to-earth, vintage-appreciating, international travelers and Bay Area locals.”

Shannon Malone

“As an artist, I live and work here in the house fulltime, so I had a little escape where I could wake up in another space occasionally and listen to the birds in the morning,” states Stitz of her garden hideaway.

The artist included wood paneling to create the interior resemble that of a ship. The bunk bed frame is from Craigslist, and Stitz left the curtains by hand. “They roll down like in a fort or vintage store-bought soda tent,” she states.

Shannon Malone

The weeping willow tree in the corner of the yard became the perfect spot for an outdoor bathing place. A friend discovered an old claw-foot bathtub at no cost on Craigslist and gave it to Stitz as a present. “He got it into his little vintage BMW,” she states, “drove it down and carried it on his back to my own backyard to surprise me for my birthday”

Shannon Malone

“I spent a great deal of time adjusting the outside space and planting unique and drought-resistant plants,” states Stitz. The backyard has a lounge area where she and her guests may enjoy a child’s mid-19th-century bed brought back from a trip to Texas.

Shannon Malone

“My grandmother taught me to bake, sew and be thrifty, therefore I have always shopped secondhand,” states Stitz. “This has definitely influenced how I decorate my house, and the type of things that I appreciate. I buy recycled; I reuse; I create artwork with salvaged materials.”

Stitz designed the distance on a shoestring budget; each secondhand item was discovered or talented. She found this old terrace set and uses it because the private outside dining room for her cottage guests.

Shannon Malone

Shannon Malone

Stitz constructed a large, banquet-style dining table from old barn doors. She paired it for an look with mismatched chairs. She utilizes the table for neighborhood dinners for her vacation renters, as well as for dinners for friends.

“Some guests have said they like the authentic, unpretentious caliber my [cottage] design has, as if the cottage only grew there or that I happened upon it,” she states. The minimalist design comprises a small outdoor kitchen with just the bare essentials: a sink, fridge and cooktop, and a little surface for preparing meals.

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