About BC & Me!

lake tahoe california, beautifully coastal

I was born in Lake Tahoe, California so I supposed I come by my LOVE for deep blue waters quite naturally.  Lake Tahoe remains one of my favorite places, but I spent most of my growing up years in Beaverton, Oregon — about 20 minutes west of Portland and 90 minutes from the gorgeous Oregon Coast.

beautifully coastal design blog -- I spy the ocean

I have many wonderful memories of family time spent at the coast — be they day trips, weekend trips, or three week camping marathons — but the one thing that stands out in my memory the most — and the thing everyone in my family still does to this day is try to be the first one to sing out “I spy the ocean” as it came into view.  Did you do that in your family?

Isn’t it funny how the simplest things become our favorite memories?

I can’t help but think those early days were the beginning of my love affair with the beach.  To this very day I am a water girl.  My favorite body of water is the ocean, but I’ll take a lake, a river, a swimming pool, a bathtub, a tall drink of water — with deep blue eyes {{ wink }}.  All are h.a.p.p.y. spots for me.


beautifully coastal hand blown octopus One of my favorite youthful memories of our trips to the Oregon Coast is we always got to get a 25-cent grab bag.  Did you do that when you were growing up?  Sooooo exciting, wasn’t it!!  Some of the treasures I remember being in my grab bags were things like a handblown octopus or seahorse; agates; a burlwood necklace; seashell dolls, etc.  I treasured each of these little gifts and kept them safely on a very special shelf in my bedroom.

I think perhaps this was the beginning of my love of beautiful things and ultimately my passion for design.


As a girl who grew up on the Oregon coast, I don’t think there’s a prettier coastline anywhere, but I do have a passion for tropical waters and I’ve been very blessed to live in some amazing places.

san francisco beaches and golden gate bridge

When I grew up, I found I had my mothers “gypsy heart”, so as soon as I graduated I hit the road and moved to Northern California — just north of San Francisco to be specific.  Those are hardly tropical waters, but amazingly beautiful none the less — and they spoke to my soul of love!  To this day, I have a passion for San Francisco, Sausalito, Stinson Beach, Bodega Bay, Carmel, Monterey, Big Sur and all the other “local” areas that became the perfect playground for this water girl!

I lived in the Bay Area for about 20 years — enjoying every moment of beautiful water, beautiful decor, world class shopping, amazing coastal restaurants — and tropical vacations whenever possible.


Moorea French Polynesia Tahiti

I rode horses on the beach in Puerta Vallarta; learned to snorkle in Key West; swam with stingrays in the Grand Cayman Islands; rode mopeds in Bermuda; visited many of the Caribbean islands; learned tried to hula dance in Hawaii; had my first shot of tequila in Cancun; toured French Polynesia on a two week cruise; I even swam with the sharks in Moorea…

swimming with the sharks in french polynesia moorea tahiti  Trust me when I tell you that was a thrill!  It’s something I’ll always be glad I did, but I often wonder what in the heck I was thinking. These sharks weren’t in cages, and neither was I!!!  They were seven miles out to sea in Tahiti and I was the girl fool who trusted the dive coaches who told us to jump in the water for the experience of a lifetime!


After a three week vacation traveling the west coast of Florida from one end to the other, on the last day of our vacation — while sitting on a beautiful beach in Clearwater, Florida — we decided “why not move here”? moving to the beach, truck

We spent our final day of vacation looking for a vacation rental we could move into until we found a permanent home on the beach. We had success, rented a place, flew back to California the next day, and moved back to Florida six weeks later.


After a few months of living in the vacation house, we finally found a perfect for us place on the beach.  We wanted a house, not a high-rise and we wanted to be directly on the water.  We found our little piece of paradise on Indian Rocks Beach (next door to Clearwater).

beautifully coastal, indian rocks beach

Indian Rocks Beach is a barrier island, meaning it's attached to the mainland by bridges. We had an Intercoastal Waterway in our backyard and the Gulf of Mexico in our front yard. Life was good for this beach girl!

beautifully coastal indian rocks beach

This was my backyard... Color me h.a.p.p.y!! Each morning when I woke up and looked out my bedroom window, this is the view I saw!

beautifully coastal living room in indian rocks beach.

This was my living room. It's a terrible picture, but it seems to be the only one I have.

This was our little kitchen in paradise.

Dining room in indian rocks beach. Floral slipcovers. Teacup chandelier.

As you can see, our little beach house had a very open floor plan from the kitchen, to the dining room, to the living room, to the deck, to the backyard, to the beach, to the ocean. I loved it!

beautifully coastal guest room This was the guest room. I found this great antique bed and painted it to fit the feel of the house.
sunset on indian rocks beach, florida

This was our sunset each evening. Not a bad way to end the day!


You might be wondering why we left paradise and moved back to southern Oregon… HURRICANES!

The 2005 hurricane season was fraught with terror. We were under mandatory evacuation three times (Arlene, Dennis the Menace, and the horrifying Katrina) — it was very scary, but our home didn’t sustain any damage in any of those hurricanes.

The bad one for us was the unexpected Hurricane Wilma.  We didn’t have any evacuation orders, we weren’t expecting to get hit and compared to some of the others, it wasn’t that bad, however, the eye hit in Naples (just an hour south of us), and we had quite a bit of damage to our home.

Most terrifying of all was being home when it all happened … siding flying off the side of the house; a transformer blew up and caught fire on the street next to our house; winds so strong the rain forced it’s way through our closed windows and flooded parts of the house (we were scared to death that the windows would blow out); trees coming down; the roof of a huge commercial boat house flew right past us; huge waves coming too close for comfort.  Worst of all, being on an island, the bridges were closed and help couldn’t get to us if things got really bad.  We were terrified.  We’d had enough.

I’m often asked if I’d go back.  Now that I’ve been away from the emotion of it all since 2005, the answer is “yes” … in my motorhome.  I’d leave when the storms are coming and sit it out someplace safe.

And that’s about it… my love for everything coastal… and my love for decorating… coming together in a little blog called Beautifully Coastal.  I hope you share my passions and I hope we become fast friends.

Okay, enough about me… tell me about your coastal experiences or dreams!  Do you know what “seafoam” candy is?  Not many people do, but it’s another favorite coastal memory of mine.

Peace, Love, and Dreams Come True,

Lesli :)


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dar March 27, 2012 at 8:41 pm

I adore the Clearwater area and just returned from the Keys. I cannot imagine how terrifying it must have been going through a hurricane. I’ve never been to the west coast… It’s on my bucket list! Just an east coast kind of girl, I guess!


Lesli March 29, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Hey Dar! I L.O.V.E. the Keys!!!!! And yes, it was terrifying to go through the hurricanes… but I sure do miss being in Clearwater. I’d go back … at least in an RV :)

For sure you’ll want to come to the west coast. It’s a bea-u-ti-ful coastline … top to bottom! The northern coast may be very similar to the NE coastline, and the southern coastline, SOMEWHAT like the SE, but I think there’s nothing like Florida!

Lesli :)


Hannah June 8, 2012 at 1:19 pm

I just came across you blog. What is not to love about a beach, the sound of waves, ANY coast? I can imagine the hurricane experience was very terrifying.

I grew up on Cape Cod beaches in the summers. Itis still a “heart” plae for me. I lived in Marin County for a while and still visit. Stinson, China Beach, Muir Beach…oh, oh, oh!

Thanks for sharing,



Barbara August 4, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Hi there, I just came across your page while searching for ideas for remodeling our newly purchased (used) 5th wheel motor home. My husband and I are preparing to embark on a new adventure of traveling across the U.S. during the next year (maybe longer). We also used to live in Florida. We lived in Weeki Wachee Springs. It’s about an hour North of Indian Rocks Beach. I actually used to spend a lot of time in Indian Rocks and Clearwater with the job I used to have. My best friend still lives in Clearwater. We actually plan to head to Florida in January and hang out for the winter. We will also be buying a small sail boat so that we can do some Island hoping while we are in FL. We are blessed to have jobs that allow us to work from home ( as long as there is internet) so we can travel all over the country with no problem. My husband and I both love the coastal cities and we hope to see many new places.

Our friends and family say that we are “crazy” for doing the nationwide trip but I think it’s going to be great!

I hope to see more pictures of your RV renovation. I am looking for inspiration to use in my own renovation project. I wish you safe travels!!!

God Bless,
Barb Downing


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