Design

California House Tour

Our friends Ashley and Aron moved from NYC to Davis, California, almost two years ago. They live with their children—Hudson and Skyler—in a midcentury modern house that feels quintessentially Californian. (How much do you want to beam yourself there?!) Here’s a peek inside…

LIVING ROOM:

On buying a house sight unseen: We had planned on renting for our first year in California, but, while still living in Manhattan, I spotted this house for sale online. We called Aron’s parents (who live in Davis) to see if they could rush over to that day’s open house. We made an offer a few days later, having only watched an e-tour (many times over). It was terrifying! When we finally saw it in person, it felt smaller than I had expected. But as we walked around, I felt the jitters subside. We turned to each other and our shared expression was “Yes! This is going to be awesome!”

On favorite things about the neighborhood: People in Davis are really friendly. Our friends, who just moved here from Maryland, joke that the various grocery stores are having a contest to see who can be the friendliest. (As in, “Please let me help you get your bags out to your car!”) And from March to October, the Farmer’s Market holds a Wednesday picnic night with live music and pony rides. Everyone comes out to sit on the grass.

On how to maintain a (light-colored!) home with small children: We try to be realistic about messes and spills (they’re going to happen). I also tried to choose durable furniture. The leather couch actually looks better with wear, and spills wipe right up. The white plastic chairs are fantastic, too—you can clean crayon marks right off. And the cork floors are super forgiving!

Leather sofa: Restoration Hardware. Coffee table: Custom, from Bali. Black and blue pillows: Haus Interior. Kilim rug: Vintage, from Scout Living. Floor lamp: Room and Board. Woven white chairs: Custom, from Bali (similar here). Pouf: purchased in Bali. White chairs at counter: Eames, from DWR. High chair: Stokke. Pendant lights: Purchased in Bali.

DINING ROOM:

On favorite places to shop: We do most of our shopping at Room and Board, Ikea, West Elm, Target and the odd flea market. Design Within Reach is a favorite source of inspiration. When we were in New York, I loved looking around ABC Carpet & Home—which felt similarly aspirational. I’m always on the lookout for good design, be it on Etsy or Amazon, or at a traveling market like Renegade.

Sofa: Jonathan Adler. Coffee table: Nelson Bench, from the Alameda Flea (similar here). Planters: Case Study by Modernica. Dining table: Room and Board. Dining chairs: DWR. Rug: Room and Board. Chandeliers: West Elm. Brown lounger: vintage Eames, from Scout Living.

BACKYARD:

On spending time in the yard: I love eating dinner outside after a hot day, when it finally cools down and the light grows golden. Lately, I’ve been sitting outside with baby Skyler while our toddler Hudson chases the dog and looks for bugs. He loves to bring me things he finds—this winter, bringing in the Meyer lemons and making lemonade was one of his favorite activities.

On NYC vs. Davis: Since moving here, I’ve become more content to stay in. A weekend in our yard feels like an activity, whereas a weekend spent indoors in New York would have felt like a wasted opportunity. I do miss living among so many great restaurants, but the upside is that we focus more on the produce we buy at the farmers’ markets. Ultimately, when we first moved here, we anticipated driving to San Francisco or Berkeley at least once or twice a month to get our city-fix. I’m so glad they’re nearby, but I don’t find myself craving those excursions to the degree I thought I would.

On throwing pool parties: There are always a few 100-degree days in Davis, and most weekends last summer involved having friends over to swim and sit in the sun. My favorites were when we would let the afternoon roll into evening with a simple grilled meal and bowls full of grapes with little hands to grab.

On destination shopping: We had been looking at outdoor furniture in New York, and we realized nearly everything we liked was made in Indonesia. We were about to go on a month-long family vacation to Bali, from where we would fly to our new home in California, so it seemed only natural (and kind of awesome) to look for furniture there. We had most of our outdoor furniture, and some indoor furniture, made in Bali and it arrived by freight a few months later.

Wooden table and chairs: Custom, from Bali. Chairs with cushions: Room and Board. Umbrellas: Room and Board.

MASTER BEDROOM:

On that amazing wood headboard: We can never move! It weighs a ton! We bought it on our vacation in Bali. There were a few shops that sold giant slabs of a fast-growing hardwood called Saur, and we went to each one trying to imagine how we could somehow incorporate something into our home. Once we decided on a headboard, we had to take a bit of a risk that we could fit it into our house. Thank goodness it worked out—or the seven guys who helped bring it inside would have killed us!

On morning rituals: Hudson has the OK to Wake! clock, which lets him know when it’s okay to start calling for us (he’s always the first one up!). Aron goes to get him dressed while I feed Skyler or catch a few more minutes of sleep. Then Hudson comes running into our room, books in hand, enthusiastically shouting “Good morning, Mommy! I got book!” while crawling into bed beside me. I’ll never get used to waking up early every day, but I do love those first morning hugs and kisses.

…and nighttime rituals: Before Skyler, I would have said my ideal night would be to take a few moments to relish the calm and quiet, and then bring the baby-monitor to the jacuzzi to look up at the stars or spread out on the couch and start whatever show we’re binge-watching at that moment. But since Skyler was born, ‘calm and quiet’ has felt pretty elusive!

Arc lamp: CB2. Bed: Ikea. Jute baskets: Target (similar here).

KID’S BEDROOM:

On honoring a piece of the past: Back in New York, Hudson slept in a closet—with a mini crib, mobile and wall of graphic animal wallpaper. When we moved, the wallpaper stayed behind, but I kept some of the leftover roll to frame in Hudson’s new room to make him feel at home.

On choosing toys: Like many parents, I started out hoping my kids would have only well-designed toys of the all-wood, hand-knit variety. (In the words of Tina Fey, those “beautiful wooden educational toys that kids love…if there are absolutely no other toys around and they have never seen television.”) But it turns out I’m generally happy to encourage anything that he gets excited about and that fosters his curiosity. Though I admit: I sometimes remove the batteries!

On tips for keeping things neat and organized: Purge often, clean with a basket in hand, and give everything a place. The last one seems obvious, but it wasn’t apparent to me until I found myself cleaning up Hudson’s room after raucous play dates how much that third bit helps. He has all of these bins and their contents are fairly straightforward (stuffed animals in one, trains in one, everything else small in one). It’s ten times easier to put his room back together now because I don’t have to spend time thinking about where everything should go.

Teepee: Etsy (similar here and here). Storage shelving and baskets: Ikea. Rug: Pottery Barn via Overstock.com. Crib: Walmart. Multi-colored jute stools: Target.

NURSERY:

On decorating kids’ rooms: I tried to start with neutral elements and avoid a single theme. I figure I’ll let them steer that course. Hudson’s room has one wall covered in cork and then painted white. The idea is that we can easily add his own artwork and, eventually, let him rotate in images of things that interest him—whether that be dinosaurs, rockets or a rock band.

On cozy moments with a newborn: There was a TED talk in which Alison Gopnik talked about how babies have a hard time not paying attention to all the stimuli around them. I always think about that. When I rock Skyler to sleep, I often find myself stroking her forehead to help her learn to just close her eyes.

Rug: Vintage, found on Etsy. Pouf: Rose Bowl flea market. Crib: Ikea. Toys: Anthropologie, Janod and PlanToys. Moccasins: Freshly Picked. The dreamcatchers were made by a friend for Ashley’s baby shower.

Thank you so much, Ashley! Your home is so inspiring. Now I really want to move west. :)

P.S. A Los Angeles home, a New York City apartment, and a tiny San Francisco apartment.

(Photos by Ashley Bruhn of Hither & Thither. Interview by Caroline Donofrio)

  1. Abbie says...

    I know this post was from 2014…and I read it then (and loved it then too!) but came across it again today via Pinterest & noticed the shelves in the nursery…where are they from? I read ALL of the comments to see if this was already answered but I don’t think it was. This house is pretty much my dream. Way to go, Ashley & Aron! Thanks for always featuring such inspiring family interiors, Joanna! :)

    • Chance says...

      Those nursery shelves are from Ikea and very affordable!

  2. Jamie says...

    Do you have a backsplash in the kitchen? If yes… What material? And what are the counter tops? Absolutely lovely home… Redoing my atomic ranch and want to keep the vibe like yours. Thanks in advance 😀
    Jamie

  3. Pierre Guggisberg says...

    Magnifique décoration pleine de charme et de goût où il doit faire bon vivre aussi bien dedans que dehors j’aime cette ambiance de bonheur

  4. Hey there!! Wowzers this house is pretty darn great. Is there anyway she can give us the real estate agency she went with? Or did she use zillow? We’re looking to relocate from the bay area to someplace where we can actually buy a house for under a million zillion dollars.
    thanks!

  5. Lindsey says...

    i am in love with the cowboy photograph over the dining table!!! Where is it from? Please!!!

    • amber says...

      OMG, ME TOO!! I must find this print!

  6. sandra fowler says...

    What is the paint color on the walls in the living room? The house is beautiful!

  7. Well I was just sitting here you know, obsessively pinning the photos of the back yard, thinking “this looks a lot like our vegetation!” Little did I know this home is ten minutes from where we live! Love everything about it. It’s the perfect Northern California home.

  8. Lauren says...

    I was wondering where the cork flooring came from? And the color?

  9. Victoria Seigel says...

    Great House! Any chance of getting a full shot photo of the beach scene painting over the white couch? I study art and would love to see the whole composition. Thanks, Victoria

  10. kyra says...

    i’ve been searching for reviews of the restoration hardware sorensen sofa (especially regarding comfort due to the height of the seat back), to no avail! how do you like yours? both you and your husband seem to be tall, do either of you regret the purchase? is the sofa more of a showpiece rather than a comfy lounger? may i ask which color and leather type yours is? thank you!

  11. Dani says...

    Such a beautiful home!
    Would love to know where they bought the large black and white print above the brown leather sofa in the tv room!
    Thanks!

  12. Where is your large art piece in the dining room from?

  13. Hi! Just saw that there were some unanswered qs on sources–
    The laquer cabinets in the nursery are from Ikea (Besta with gloss doors). The table and stools in my son’s room are Ikea and Target, respectively. And the clock in the kitchen is… um… Ikea also.

  14. where is the small table from in your sons room? is it a tv stand? i love the stools as well :-)

  15. Beautiful style!! Would you be able to tell me where your clock hanging in the kitchen is from?

  16. AMAZING house! I love the case study Modernica planter with the wood stand and was wondering if it’s the small or the large one? Thanks for your help.

  17. I want to read this precious information that is pretty amazing and I really would like to know more about the car plates.
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  18. Love the white lacquer storage credenzas in the nursery, where are they from ??!!

  19. Wow what a lovely home. I have never seen this type of home in my life. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post with us. Everyone has a dream that how they will decorate their own home with beautiful furniture and home bars.

  20. More of this, please!

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  22. Loved this! I’ve followed Ashley’s blog for years — she’s got such great taste and way of life. Their home is amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  23. WOW!!!
    What a lovely house!

    I enjoy your photos and can’t stand to pin it on my board in pinterest.

    Hope I can buy a house someday and decorate it like with cute stuff. Hehe :)

    xxx
    Puulla

  24. Oh geez, I lost track of your blog many months ago and I’m thrilled to see your home in Davis has come together so beautifully and that your lovely family has grown!
    Stunning!
    Xo

  25. You did an amazing job with this post! What an amazing place this couple has–a perfect spot to raise children and relax without having to travel elsewhere. Looks like a great life.

  26. Hey, I live in Davis too! It’s a beautiful town, and is the perfect juxtaposition of college-y and family-friendly (with a strong hippie vibe). I’m so happy to see it featured on your blog, and their home is lovely!
    Fun fact: Davis is also considered one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world!

  27. Hi Joanna! What a stunning home. I especially love the backyard! Wow. We live in Davis and LOVE it (though the summer heat can be a bit much at times:). It’s really a perfect town, with a fun college town vibe and also super family-friendly. My husband and I adore the fact that after our babysitter pops over to play with the munchkins, we can be at a neat pub or restaurant in just five minutes. Plus, there’s bike trails galore all around town, a super beautiful agricultural setting, and SF, the beach and Tahoe are all close by. Come visit your friends and check it out! ;) xo

  28. Hi Ashley – do you know where one can purchase Josh Stanley’s photo of Richard Prince’s Marlboro cowboy? It’s stunning! Thanks!

  29. Wow, thanks again for all the generous comments! Some more source answers:

    @Mrs. Habit–glad you chimed in. I’m sorry I’d forgotten source, but yes the teepee is from House In Habit https://www.etsy.com/shop/houseinhabit
    @Stephanie Abdon–The house is by a local builder named Streng and designer Carter Sparks (an Eichler contemporary). Some article links:http://www.hitherandthither.net/2012/04/a-new-old-address.html
    @Tabitha–I’d love to learn about that painting over the white sofa, too. We bought it at a Davis estate sale and the belief is that the painter studied at Davis (with Wayne Thiebaud), but they weren’t sure.
    @two pounds–the map is a topographic US map (but oddly missing Hawaii and Alaska) from School House Electric.
    @Pear and @Rafiks777–see answer above regarding the cowboy print. The photo above the leather couch is by Jamie Street. She shared it on Instagram and it’s printed inexpensively on blueprint printer. The framing, however, is not cheap–but there’s a local shop here that had large frames made (they’re around 70×30 or 40 inches) and then used a lighter alternative to glass so they wouldn’t weigh a ton. Lots of light reflection is only downside to the plexi.
    @Rafiks777–the corner floor lamp is from Room & Board, but I know the one you speak of at Target. We wanted to order it and see if it would be right for another room, but they won’t sell it in California because it doesn’t take the efficient lightbulbs the state requires!
    @Gosia–Such a pretty book! Excited to look at it more. No stylist or borrowed props in this case. All ours. Thanks!
    @Nelly Chung–the floors in all the rooms except for the dining and master are cork. The floors in those other two are Walnut. Previous owners installed them and we love the cork. Easier on feet, clean easy, stay more temperate. BUT they do fade with sun exposure. (I guess wood does too, but…)

  30. I love everything! Can you please tell me what kind of floors are in the kitchen and what type of hardwood is in the dinning room/bedroom? I am looking for something similar and it looks perfect. Thank you!

  31. so nice to see the book MAPS, its by a couple of Poles, my kids have it (in our native Polish) and absolutely love it! Beautiful pictures, plenty of interesting bits on various countries: what’s more to love! I didn’t know there’s a version in English too.
    ps. the house is a beauty! Are all the pieces the family’s belongings or was the house styled up a bit before the photo session?

  32. I just moved away from Davis after finishing my graduate degree. I miss Northern California and can’t wait to get back. Also, it is true, the people at the Nugget are the nicest of any grocery store I have ever been. I miss their cheese selection and juice bar.

  33. Hi! I love LOVEEE your beautiful home! Could you tell where did you get all these huge frames and art pieces you have? Also, Is that floor lamp in the corner from Target?

  34. I would do ANYTHING for that bed. That headboard?! Oh my gahhhhd.

    This house is dreamy. Makes me miss California, pool parties, and enjoying a backyard.

  35. I follow Ashley on IG and have been hoping for a whole-house tour! This is exactly how I imagine every home in California to look, haha. Really not my personal style, but I find it still very beautiful and inspirational.

  36. HI!

    Just wanted to pop in and say that I am almost positive the teepee pictured is from our shop “House Inhabit” on Etsy.

    We were delighted to see it here, in this beautiful home and hoped the link might be corrected to link our shop to anyone interested.

    Thanks so much! The whole home tour is a dream.

    – Jessica Kraus

    https://www.etsy.com/shop/houseinhabit

  37. Where is the art from? Love the large cowboy piece.

  38. this couple has exquisite taste! i would love to own any/all of their furniture. thank you so much for sharing, something to aspire to. :)

    Ax
    http://homejames.ca

  39. jo says...

    i keep coming back to look at these lovely images. i had a couple of them pinned before and now it makes sense that they are all in the same house. anyway, this house is the epitome of what my style is in my head, if i could ever achieve it in reality! well done to them and now i’m off to check out her blog!

  40. My dream home! What an amazing, relaxing and inspiring space. I’d love to know where to find the beautiful map that hangs over Hudson’s bed. Thanks!

  41. it’s wonderful here in California, but be warned – not all houses are this lovely! I just love the kids space! (also, I have a Hudson too)

  42. It would be wonderful if she could do a guest post on how to go about shopping for furniture abroad. What a great idea, but I would have no idea how to do it!

  43. Inspirational! Love the calming design, yet still colorful and electic. Thanks for sharing!

  44. oh yay! i love her blog! my husband and i are talking about moving to northern cali and i’ve been following her blog for a while just for the inspiration to go to awesome places. so nice, love their home.

  45. Beautiful! I grew up and live(ed) in Davis. Great little town. That house is very Davis, I love it!