I had no intention of buying a cabin, I swear. My sister, Amanda, had gone on a lake trip with her husband, and was telling me how much she loved it, and my mind immediately went, “Hmmmm, lakes!” I did what any normal person would do and immediately looked up housing prices for local lake areas. I don’t know what it is, but at least once a day I find myself on an MLS website, searching bizarre parameters in different neighborhoods I’m interested in. “What’s the most expensive house in Bel Air? Are there any original 1920s-1930s Spanish Colonial Revival homes available in Pasadena? What about ranch property in Ojai?” And then I fantasize about what I would do with a property like that. I don’t know what it is, but I find real estate fascinating – even in the abstract. My mom would hesitate (just for a moment!) at what she loves more, her children or a perfectly timed house flip – so I’m sure I got the bug from her. We used to spend my childhood Sunday afternoons nosing around open houses, just for fun, so this has been a low-key passion for a while.
So here I was, looking at cabin properties in Big Bear Lake.
I hadn’t been back to Big Bear since I was about 12 years old, but I had become obsessed with the idea of having a cabin there in recent weeks. I remembered the lake and the skiing, and now that I have my son, James, I wanted to create a cozy home away from home that we could call our own. I was like a woman possessed. An A-Frame cabin in Big Bear must be mine!
I told my husband about the idea – renovating a cabin into a vacation home and rental, and he somehow was cool with me throttling forward.
We went up to Big Bear to just “have a look” which was very much like the time I took Craig to “check out this cat” when I already had food and a litter box ready in the trunk of my car. Mochi has been very happy in our home for 3 years now and Craig is now a cat person.
We met Annette, the sweetest real estate agent in Big Bear, and she took us for a look around. Having lived there for 40 years, she knew exactly what neighborhoods were worth looking at, what style of houses do best in the winter, she even warned us against north-facing driveways. We saw quite a few homes but nothing really clicked. We felt great about our fact finding mission and got in the car to leave. But then Annette called us: “There’s a listing going up in a week or two at my office – I haven’t seen it myself, but do you want to pop in?” It was on our way out of town, so why not.
Well…we bought it.
It’s a 1970s Chalet style A-Frame in the Moonridge area, and we immediately fell in love. It’s 10 minutes from the slopes, nestled on a quiet street, with a large tree-dotted lot. There’s room for my full vision of an Après-Ski Family Weekend: Late mornings sleeping in with the master bedroom fireplace burning; puzzles and cards being played under the soaring A-Frame ceiling; fondue or hot cocoa bubbling in the open kitchen; and a crackling fire pit outdoors for s’mores in the summer, or a cozy moment with hot toddies and piles of blankets. The house happily sleeps 8-10, perfect for my friends and their growing families to join the fun.
Searching through inspiration of cabins (you know I have a deeeeeep Pinterest page for this, haha), I kept seeing white washed hygge fantasies. It was all Nordic minimalism and sheepskin rugs. While I love that aesthetic, it just didn’t feel right for Big Bear. Big Bear has this marvelous kitsch factor – so instead of a white, modern space, I leaned into color, texture and surprise.
I’ll get into the full scope of the Cabin through a series of posts, but today, let’s talk kitchen – the heart of my home.
Of course, the core of the kitchen is the appliances, and I am thrilled to be partnering with Samsung. Their line of kitchen appliances is amazing – super innovative but still easy to use. Also, with their Spring for Something New Event, you can get up to $500 back for upgrading to Samsung! As I was looking at each appliance, I was impressed by the thoughtfulness and flexibility with each one. The fridge has a camera that you can check on your phone, so you never have to come home with an extra carton of milk because you forgot you already had one. It also mirrors my Samsung TV (which I’m obsessed with, but that’s for another post) so I can continue watching my favorite shows while in the kitchen. The range has a “SmartDivider” so you can cook multiple dishes at different temperatures, at the same time! The dishwasher is incredibly quiet, and you can add items even after it has started.
For the kitchen, my first instinct was to open it up. There were heavy, low hanging upper cabinets, divorcing the kitchen from an otherwise open space. My thought is that it’s already halfway there – why not make it totally open and social? Plus, I love open shelving to highlight beautiful vintage glassware and dishes.
Because of its openness, I needed to come up with a color palette for the entire downstairs, not just the kitchen. I love the idea of a late 1960s “Ski Party” vibe (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_xBT_xavzM) – so, avocado, marigold, sorbet pink, and then a punch of juniper green to ground the space. Splashes of rustic wood with modern finishes to tie it all together.
I’ll also be using Fire Clay Tile for the entire house, and they have an amazing custom hand painted tile app on their site, where you can design your own color palette in their tile patterns. I opted for the clean look of the Agrarian Line, in my exact color palette.
For the cabinets, I love Ikea and have done Ikea kitchens in my last two homes. Since then, I discovered Semi Handmade – quite possibly the best idea I’ve seen in years. Semi Handmade designs gorgeous fronts to Ikea bases, so you get this custom look at a fraction of the price.
Hardware and finishes seem like a small detail, but they add so much to a kitchen space. It determines if a space if modern or traditional, hip or stodgy. Rejuvenation is my go-to, and I’m sort of a Rejuvenation stan. I loved their Elroy hardware for the space because, TBH I didn’t know if I was going with black or brass fixtures and this solves for both. The wood shelving with sleek brass hardware will bring a bit of rusticity back into the space and is the perfect foundation for my vintage glassware.
I don’t mind mixing metals at all, so having stainless steel Samsung appliances with brass accents in the hardware will look great. Sometimes people have a concept that “everything MUST match,” but it’s honestly more about everything “going” together. The appliances have sleek, modern lines, and that’s the through line with the rest of the elements in the kitchen.
I am so excited about the cabin progress! I would love to hear what you guys think. Any mountain friends, please give me tips on how to care for a seasonal house – this is all super new to me.