Nikki and Steve Carlson make an easy pitch for fresh, clean, California-style cottages. One look at their homey and bright residences will have you searching your calendar for the perfect time to visit the beach. Shelfology recently sat down to chat with them about their Airbnb cottages and the history of their business.

Cottage and Sea Airbnb Front View
Mint + Sea California-Style Cottages

Shelfology: Tell us about your background and your company—how did it come about? 

We were looking for our first home together for several years, waiting for the perfect timing and trying to find the perfect place for us. Steve is an avid surfer and Nikki loves older homes with charm and character. We actually started conceiving the idea on Instagram, and, days later, we found our perfect home! This gave us a passion to renovate and create our perfect space, which led to creating special and unique spaces for others to also enjoy. Through Steve's property investment and renovation experience and Nikki’s passion for design, decor, and hospitality, we were able to continue expanding. 

Shelfology: What is your business philosophy? 

God first. Work hard and diligently, and don’t cut corners. Take time out to enjoy your work and play. Give back and create a special place for others. 

Shelfology: What are your goals and vision for your company?

To restore vintage homes and bring them back to life, and to ensure guests have the most fun and memorable experience during our stays—not only from the inside aesthetic, but also from the outside location. 

Shelfology: How did you get into the house rental business? 

Steve grew up in that trade with his dad, so he was involved in property investments and managing apartments at a young age. Nikki loves design and decor and creating a special place for people to enjoy

Bathroom Remodel Before Photo #1
Before pictures of the Mint + Sea Bath
Bathroom Remodel After Photo #1

Shelfology: What are the pros and cons of owning a short-term rental?

Pros are that you can enjoy it yourself when it’s vacant, and if you’re creative, it is a fun outlet to create a special place. Another pro is that you can stay on top of maintenance as opposed to deferring it when a tenant is there for an extended period of time. It can also be financially rewarding. 

The downside is the upfront costs of furnishing and maintaining the furnishings. Some areas are seasonal and there is possible volatility in the market, so it is riskier and the income can be less consistent because of vacancies and the potential seasonality of the property location. Every property and location will be unique, and you don't have control of the local ordinances

We personally aren’t a fan of the daily rental because of the additional wear and tear and the higher cost for the guest. We prefer a longer, multi-day minimum. 

Do you recommend it to other homeowners? 

We recommend it to people interested in pursuing it. It depends on the individual as it could be a good option for some but not others. They would have to weigh out the pros and cons of their situation as well as the location. 

Shelfology: What's your favorite type of project to take on? 

We love renovating older homes with character that we can restore and bring back to life with modern and luxurious functionality in a great location. 

Shelfology: What type of design gets you excited?

Designing with a unique perspective considering the era that the home was built, and incorporating that when possible while also updating with some current trends and styles

Shelfology: What current trends do you love? 

We are loving the textures such as cane and rattan webbing, and also black furniture, brass/gold touches, vintage pieces, artwork, and Turkish rugs.

Shelfology: Which trends do you think are on the way out?

The overly boho designs seem to be fading out.

Shelfology: Give us an overview of the Mint and Sea residence project from your point of view: what were your goals for this project and your thought process behind the solution? 

When we started on this project, we could envision the gem underneath the stained blue carpet, cheap and dirty linoleum, dirty walls, and bright gold, cheap hardware. We were thrilled when we pulled back the flooring and were able to restore and repair the original hardwood floor. Our vision was to design with the 50s era in mind and incorporate styles from that era (from the 20s to the 50s) with Art Deco lighting, tile countertops (mint and blue), black and white bathroom tile floors, cafe nook bench seating, vintage style appliances, brass, and crystal knobs—while also creating a cozy cottage feel with things such as a brick fireplace, open shelving, and cottage style windows.

Bathroom Remodel Before Photo #2
After in the Mint + Sea Cottage bath
Bathroom Remodel After Photo #2

Shelfology: Favorite touches in the house?

Original hardwood floors, open shelves in the bathroom, tile countertops in the kitchen,  bathroom tile floors, Art Deco lighting, luxurious kitchen and door hardware, brick fireplace, cottage windows, and vintage appliances.

Shelfology: What’s next for both of you and your business? 

We are looking for our next beach home to renovate and design in another great beach town.  We’d love to create another cozy space and retreat for guests to enjoy while they stay. We are both entrepreneurs and plan to expand the Cottage + Sea brand.

Steve and Nikki, we love your willingness to go all in and transform spaces that provide rest, relaxation and oodles of style. Cheers to another project completed: You are Certified Rad! 

Cottage and Sea

Certified Rad : Cottage and Sea

Steve and Nikki Carlson are drawing on their love of the beach to bring style and comfort to their Southern California properties. Their positive energy keeps the good vibes flowing as they transform spaces to beachy chic using Steve’s real estate know how and Nikki’s love of design. Follow them @cottageandsea

Read more here

Get their fresh look here: 

Aksel White Oak Shelves

Cottage and Sea Home Picks 

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