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Oregon Coast Real Estate 101 Part II: Decor

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By Polly Peterson

Over the years, Oceanfront Properties has worked with the interior design company,  J. Duce Design, for both quick home refreshes and total redesigns. They have had a hand in helping stage Sanctuary at Seal Rock, remodel Big Blue and Captain Arnold and totally redesign and decorate The Oregon Beach House. 

They are amazing to work with — fun, creative on a budget, with an eye for style that is both comfortable and high quality. They have vacation home design dialed-in. 

Jessica Duce, the lead designer at J.Duce Design, has designed homes for over 15 years. Her mother was a designer so she feels she actually learned more from her than any other formal education. “I originally went to school for Archeology.  There are similarities to both fields actually.  History, cataloging, understanding structure and form.” Kathy Helfrich, her assistant, started in the hospitality industry in her twenties as a hotel desk clerk and a flight attendant and then a real estate agent for over 20 years. She has been doing interior design for the last six years and feels all of her experiences have led her to this work she enjoys so much.

oregon beach house
J.Duce Design work at the Oregon Beach House


When working with a client, the most important first step is establishing a budget. 

“There is truly no bad number – we just need a range,” Jessica states. Then work with a client to build a vision for their dream aesthetic or direction, their likes and dislikes.  From there, they can move from that and create for them. 

After the budget is decided, establishing strong rapport and trust with their clients an by d all tradesmen working on the project is important. They never deter a client from a style or object they like, even if it’s not something that they would necessarily select.  They listen to what a client wants and needs and then bring that to fruition. As Kathy puts it, “Communication is vital!  There are so many details and moving parts to every project that mistakes could be costly, so I feel it’s essential to bring organization and communication to my projects.”

The entryway at OBH completely transformed


When decorating for a home that is on the beach, they take into consideration that guests will be coming and going and that means sand.  “We think about watching sunsets, lots of towels, things to do when it’s overcast, encouraging the outdoors as well as appreciating beach life inside (views, shells, relaxing, texture, different points of light, soothing colors).” 

You are on vacation! You need a “serene comfy bedroom after playing at the beach all day!”

When looking for furnishings for a vacation rental home, Kathy and Jessica look for comfort and sustainability to conform with durability.  “It is challenging at times to find all three in one piece.  We also need to compliment the area, structure, and destination of the rental as well as the comfort of the guests.” Although the wear, tear and durability of many of the items that go into a rental property are very important to address, it’s the finishing touches that are what make it fun for us and what most guests will appreciate.  

Because guests choose a home from pictures, it’s a color theme or a style theme that will catch their eye, “those intentional details are what will help identify that property through photos,” Kathy explains. 

Big Blue living room – BEFORE and AFTER


“We like to find out what people are attracted to for their homes.  Everyone has different triggers,” Jessica states. From there, it is their job to take the client’s taste/style with a consideration for longevity. “We will make sure that the spaces are pulled together, flow, and create a stylish home.” 

VACA rental design is completely different from residential design. They truly look at each item for longevity and style, calculating weight distribution for furniture, as well as the washability of pillows, sheets, blankets, throws.  They also try to select items that will NOT be hard to replace or replicate.  With all that, we want each home to feel more like a home, that you can relax in and always feel welcome, while also feeling like you are at a special getaway. 

They also help design homes with security, amenities for guests, and photo worthy areas for those Facebook and Instagram shots guests want.  And on a budget. 


We call it the cheat.  “We like to figure out where to splurge and where to skimp.  If your budget is 10k for your living room, it would not make sense to buy an 8k sofa,” Jessica explains.  “We move the expense around to still achieve quality and “the look” but not lose sight of all the needs.  Art and soft furnishings are a good splurge area.  Next rugs, and lighting.  Décor is a great place to cheat and be creative.” Kathy notes, “There are so many material and furniture options available today that there’s something out there for every budget.”

The Big Blue bunk room transformation – the bunks were moved to a different room and built-ins were handcrafted!


Jessica loves the bunk rooms in Big Blue and OBH and the relaxing great room in Captain Arnold. “I love the upstairs living room in the Oregon Beach house,” she states, “I could sit in those chairs all day.” She also loves hanging out with her family in the kitchen at Big Blue during sunset.

Kathy was most surprised with the finished results at the Sanctuary at Seal Rock. “This project was a great example of weight and balance as I stated earlier:  We needed to work with a lot of the existing furniture pieces. Softening [the paint color on the walls and] bringing in rugs and accent pieces that lightened the dark furniture, really made the home feel completely different and more modern and current.” 

BEFORE on the left, AFTER on the right of the living and dining areas at The Sanctuary

People tend to think hiring a Designer is way too expensive. Oceanfront has learned that we  have saved more money than we spent hiring them. They are efficient and know where to spend the money and where to work with what you have. Efficient at communication. 

And so much fun to work with!

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Antiquing is a favorite coastal activity. For those rainy, windy days that you don’t want to be outside, antiquing is the perfect way to spend your time.