Design

A Pink Farmhouse Surrounded by Cows

Pink Farmhouse in Tomales, California

Last summer, Julie Cloutier and her husband Matt Shapiro moved to a rental farmhouse in Tomales, California (pop. 204). “The town is very rural and remote,” she says. “Our house is surrounded by cows, and we can hear a nighttime chorus of mooing.” Here, Julie takes us on a tour…

Pink Farmhouse in Tomales, California

On a secret color: The farmhouse looks white from the street, but when you get closer, it’s actually faded pink! Clearly, it used to be bright pink, which I love. The exterior needs some love, but, as a former architect, I’ve always been into existing conditions — basically, just living with the home as it is. Even if we did own this house, I wouldn’t want to change anything for a while.

Pink Farmhouse in Tomales, California

Cup: Cloutier Ceramics.

On main street: Our town is tiny — a bakery, post office and sandwich shop, that’s it. I walk there in six minutes. There’s also a town hall, where I do yoga in the mornings. Everyone is 60 or above. The same woman teaches it three times a week, and it’s definitely not strenuous.

FOYER

Pink Farmhouse in Tomales, California

Coat rack: Eames. Bag: Doug Johnston.

On upsizing: This house is 2,200 square feet, and it was so weird moving here after living in a tiny San Francisco apartment for so long. Before, we were always right next to each other, and now we have to yell ‘Honey?’ ‘What? I can’t hear you!’ We don’t have much furniture, so we were like, what do we put in the foyer?! We decided to display our record player on a wooden box. Music in the center of the house made sense.

LIVING ROOM

Pink Farmhouse in Tomales, California

On a sofa with a story: Almost everything we have is used, from flea markets, garage sales, friends who moved abroad… Our couch was from Craigslist, and when we went to pick it up, it was in a dentist’s office. It’s a waiting room sofa! The sofa overall is soft, but the middle cushion is super hard — I guess no one would sit in the middle! We’re still working on breaking it in, five years later.

Pink Farmhouse in Tomales, California

Cowhide rug: similar.

On following the warmth: We use the space differently based on the seasons. In the summer, we eat on the porch. In the winter, we eat in the living room because the wood fireplace is so pleasant — and the kitchen gets cold. We’ll just haul the table in there for the evening.

On bare walls: I like empty spaces. I don’t want to fill up the whole room and put art everywhere. Friends will come in and say, ‘You don’t have anything in here!’ But to me it feels full.

Pink Farmhouse in Tomales, California

On a hidden bookshelf: Do you see the bookshelf in the staircase? If we have a guest, these are the books where we’d say, you can choose one to read at night! We have Swimming Studies, a couple travel guides, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton — anything he writes, I love. And Bluets, which was our latest book club pick.

DINING ROOM

Pink Farmhouse in Tomales, California

Candlestick: Cloutier Ceramics. Bowl: Cloutier Ceramics.

On fresh food: We get our food at a nearby farm. They have beef, lamb, eggs, herbs, beans, wildflowers, veggies, corn, wheat, olive oil — you pick out your own stuff. I go to the grocery store only for pasta and dry goods. Six months out of the year, you can also buy wildflower bouquets for every room in the house. When I first heard about it, I was almost like, I don’t know, this sounds too dreamy!

Pink Farmhouse in Tomales, California

Wicker chairs: Marcel Breuer. Fiberglass chairs: similar.

On a personal gift: Our city apartment didn’t have room for bowls for our produce. So, I was on a mission when we got here: We need to get big baskets to put all our food in! The woven bowls are my favorite. I’d love to be able to throw huge platters myself. I can’t yet. They’re heavy and hard to center. But you see these old ladies doing it. I have to push myself!

On a candle habit: I just started making candleholders. I never had candles before, really, but now I’m burning them every day. We always light them for dinner; and since the holders don’t get hot, you can carry them between rooms.

KITCHEN

Pink Farmhouse in Tomales, California

On easy dinners: My husband is a chef at Hog Island Oyster Co, and we like to cook at home together. I’m like his prep cook. Sometimes we’ll eat late if he’s working a dinner shift. When I’m home alone, I’ll make fried eggs with vegetables. In the summertime, I’m eating open-faced tomato sandwiches.

Pink Farmhouse in Tomales, California

Dish rack: similar. Vase: Cloutier Ceramics.

On nature: We feel more connected to nature living up here. Hearing the owls as we’re going to bed — I never want to take that for granted. We spot wild cats, turkeys and deer. Every month, I’ll find a frog in the house! My husband was never an outdoors person before, but now he loves it. He’ll go fishing and mushrooming. There are two mushrooms that can kill you, but we go for the tasty ones that look obvious — porcini, chanterelles, black trumpets.

BEDROOM

Pink Farmhouse in Tomales, California

Bed: Sean Yoo. Bedding: similar.

On a little oasis: Our bedroom is pretty simple — there’s a wood table on his side and my side has nothing. I just put whatever I’m reading on the ground. I prefer a smaller room for sleeping, it’s cozier. At night, we like watching nature documentaries, but Matt falls asleep immediately so we don’t watch for very long. Once he’s asleep, I’ll turn the light back on and read.

Pink Farmhouse in Tomales, California

Bedding: Restoration Hardware. Pillowcases: Chloe May Brown.

On a trick for good sleep: Linen sheets are our favorite. We only have one set (our other sheets are cotton), so we’re always washing them. They help you sleep so much better. The pillow cases are a tidal pool fabric from Chloe May Brown.

On hosting guests: We have an air mattress in our guest room upstairs, but it still feels cozy. As soon as we renew our lease, I’m going to get a guest bed. I like putting fresh flowers in there. A few weeks ago, we had a guest, and I went outside and cut some leaves off our succulent. Rosemary is also really nice and makes the room smell good.

STUDIO

Pink Farmhouse in Tomales, California

On a second career: I worked in architecture for 10 years. But I was sitting at a computer too much and wanted to use my hands. So, I started taking ceramics classes. I took so many intro classes — I kept signing up for them! At first, I was only hand building because I was scared of the wheel. One day, I tried it, and then I kept trying. It became an intense hobby. Then I was laid off from my architecture job, which was kind of perfect timing. I started working at General Store and taking ceramics classes at City College three times a week. After a couple years, I began selling my work, and when my paycheck became equal, I grew more confident, like maybe I can make this work as a career.

Pink Farmhouse in Tomales, California

Pink Farmhouse in Tomales, California

On alone time: I work from home, but I’m perfectly content being by myself. We’ve had so many visitors — people come every week for dinner, a day trip or a sleepover. But I can be by myself for days. Sometimes, I’ll play music; sometimes I’ll go through a quiet phase where I’ll just enjoy the silence. I had a stand-up comedy period, where I listened to every comedy special I could get my hands on: Ali Wong, Margaret Cho, Seinfeld, Trevor Noah, Hasan Minhaj. I’ll listen while I’m throwing, but if I start laughing too much, I have to stop.

Pink Farmhouse in Tomales, California

Thank you so much, Julie!

P.S. More house tours, including a treehouse apartment in Washington, D.C., and a purple-filled Brooklyn townhouse.

(Photos by Lena Corwin for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Tracey Rae Beal says...

    hi julie, curious to know how far your friends/visitors are from you? an established community wouldn’t be one of my hardest things to give up.

    • Hi Tracey,
      Most of my friends are 50 miles, it’s about 75min driving time, which in the Bay Area is actually not too bad. It’s rare for me to not have weekly visitors, and I go to the city about twice a month for the day. It’s not for everyone, but I’m an introvert so it works for me. I’ve made some new friends in town too!

  2. Absolutely love this home tour. I also love Julia’s work and to see where it all comes from is so calming. Gorgeous photos by Lena too!

  3. Emily says...

    This made me miss Northern California so much it aches. I love the rich quality of that foggy light coming through the windows and can almost smell the ocean and the grass after the rain looking at these photos. Lovely home.

  4. Theresa says...

    I just had to give the perspective of someone who has lived in Marin and now lives in a small very rural community. It makes me sad to read the comments about “Trump country” people. The word “ deplorable” wasn’t used but I felt like I heard it. If you judge rural people because they aren’t just like you I think you have missed a wonderful opportunity to meet some of the most kind generous people I have ever met. Communication and understanding is a two way street people! Everybody has an opportunity to learn and grow.

    • Chandra says...

      Not sure if you were referring to my original comment which was about most of America’s most beautiful, historic homes being in small, conservative red towns which is factual. My comment was actually about myself and the safety of people who look like me (imagine that!) and not “rural people.” As a 30s something African American woman raised in the south, my grandparents and great grandparents were also “rural people,” who moved to larger cities for many reasons including safety. History and data show that small, conservative places have never been and are currently not safe for Black and Brown Americans (see: Emmitt Till, the most active chapters of the klan in 2018 or a history of lynchings in America) to educate yourself if you are not already familiar. I’m not interested in “generous people” who voted against the humanity of folks who “aren’t just like them.”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that, chandra!

  5. Amber Joy says...

    This is beautiful. It makes me feel so connected to her! Thank you for sharing.

  6. Phuong says...

    I love that this tour is a deeply different approach to making a home. Julie’s appreciation for the simple life and those boxy (handmade?) wooden pieces remind me of Jesse Kamm. Now I want to build some boxes!

  7. Kari says...

    Love her words re: bare walls! My husband and I are both artists and our home is white with bare walls too. I love the simplicity and fullness of empty walls.

  8. leslie says...

    This is just amazing, the life I would love to live!! Beautiful!

  9. Nicole Brant says...

    I love everything about this post! It’s so REAL. Like Julie could be my neighbor. I love the pink house, the simple decor, Julie’s natural look. A+

  10. Rue says...

    My grandparents lived on a farm and were professional potters (as later-in-life careers), so this gives me lots of happy vibes. I’m too extroverted to handle that much solo time, but I’m so happy it works for her!

    I’ve gone on a few dates with a professional chef, and it’s too soon to say where it will go from here. But the first time he came to my apartment, as soon as he walked in the door he picked up a big ceramic serving bowl made by my grandparents and held it up and exclaimed, “this is beautiful!” And you know, as a chef, he’s got opinions on serving bowls. It was a tiny moment but I keep coming back to it as a good omen, that the first thing he noticed and appreciated about my home was my grandparents’ art.

    • Sasha says...

      I love this story……. I’m hoping it works out with him!! 🤞

  11. Anita says...

    Oh my gosh, this is my dream!! I visited Tomales a few years back, and loved it. Thanks for the tour!

  12. Rachel says...

    I am desperate for this sort of solitude: “But I can be by myself for days. Sometimes, I’ll play music; sometimes I’ll go through a quiet phase where I’ll just enjoy the silence.” Thank you, Julie, for articulating this. I’m going to try to build in just a little bit more solitude into my life. It will be like starting an exercise regime – begin slowly and build up.

  13. Maggie says...

    I am confused…..the over 60 set in your yoga class are non-strenuous, yet the “old ladies” in your pottery class are strong enough to throw large platters…..

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      it’s just the low-key community yoga class that’s not strenuous, not the women!

  14. Betty Mitschke says...

    Julie, I am so much more motivated. To move, that is! I am living in West Texas, Odessa, living in the same small house (1100 sq.ft.) since 1984. I am retired and have been looking at small towns in eastern TX. You have found the perfect house! the house I would love! I love the way you using the space and your pottery looks great. The best to you and hubby. Where is that furry best friend? You are blessed!

  15. Rachel says...

    This house is so lovely, but I have to say I was even more inspired by Julie’s career change. I’m an architect too (going on 10 years), and I am itching to do something more creative than redlining and spec writing (what today’s work consisted of!)

    Off to look up local ceramics classes…

  16. This gave me an idea for a feature I would LOVE to see on Cup of Jo – stories from people who moved from big cities to more suburban areas. Up here in Vancouver, Canada (which frequently tops lists of Most Beautiful but Most Expensive places in the world to live) my husband and I are constantly in conversation about where we want to end up living with our kids – do we raise them crammed into small apartments in/near the city (where detached homes go for WELL over $1million) or do we buy a house further afield where our kids can each have their own room? Raising our kids in a diverse place with lots of takeout options (ha) is important to us! But every time I see homes like the one above I think… maybe…we could also have cows.

    • Jenny says...

      haha! Yes. Vancouver… we love you, but raising a family here is not always easy. I think most young parents in Vancouver are having these conversations daily. Going rural is so appealing and so scary (when you’re city people). I hope Cup of Jo decides to do a more in-depth post on this subject matter.

    • Sasha says...

      I would love to see this idea featured too. Although I grew up in a tiny, isolated town, and still live in what anyone would consider a small town (although by my standards it’s huge), I am surrounded by people who have moved here escaping cities. It’s fascinating to me what propels that change (many of them don’t actually stay, everything is not so la la in Shangri-la, especially if you don’t bring your job with you, or a huge trust fund) and I’m more than a little self-interested because all of the new comers are rapidly and irreparably changing the character and dynamics of our *small* town. What is often missed in stories about city people going rural is that by their going rural they are changing the very thing they moved there for. If I could yell full STOP, and halt the growth, trust me I would. But people will keep coming until every square inch of pasture is paved over. And then where will they go, once this place is just another city? Sigh. It’s often the powerlessness in the face of change that feels the worst for me.

    • I third this idea! We currently live in Jersey City and are planning on having kids soon and we’re torn — I love my apartment and the proximity to my job in Manhattan, as well as the proximity to friends, restaurants, and everything else city life has to offer. I also love the diversity here. But I ACHE for wide open spaces and backyards and nature. Sometimes I think, “Just go for it!” Other times I picture us in a beautiful big old house all alone because we’re so far from civilization no one comes to visit. I would LOVE more features from people who did the big city to suburbs or rural living, how they dealt with commutes, making friends, and even if they did have to deal with conservative neighbors … please!

  17. Jenny says...

    This is so wonderful! My husband and I live in Vancouver, Canada, but are often thinking of moving somewhere rural. Neither of us have ever lived anywhere but a city. I would love to hear some more insight into the pros and cons of city versus rural life, and how your transition went.

    Gorgeous home :)

    • OMG I just wrote a comment expressing the same desire for this insight, and then saw your comment! My husband and I also live in Vancouver and we are *aaaalways* having this conversation. I want to hear from people who have actually made the move, and all about what they love/hate about the transition.

    • Maggie Smith says...

      Great idea! My husband and I moved from Atlanta to my hometown in rural south Georgia 5 years ago. We now live on a dirt road in a town with 280 people. We still like to visit Atlanta and other big cities, but I’ve never been happier with our home.

    • Sasha says...

      I live in a place people move to, and I think how people like it is pretty place dependent.
      For example we have long cold winters, so for people moving from southern California, they either love it (world class skiing), or hate it (weeks of below zero this winter).
      Because we are a ski resort and wealthy second home area (or tenth home, as if often the case), our small town has amazing amenities, great Indian and Thai and sushi, art galleries, fascinating little local shops run by artisans, cider houses and microbreweries and kombucha etc. But it’s all soooooo expensive. Because it’s not really for us. Same with housing. The wages/housing gap is huge. And our community is far more conservative and less diverse (gigantically less diverse) than most cities, but some people like that.

      Now, you could move to my hometown, 8000 pop. and declining, and truly rural. Or a little town outside, with only a few hundred. But one crappy grocery store. No where even remotely decent to eat out, or hotels for guests, or anything interesting at all happening. The average age is probably 60. A lot of opiate addiction, and meth, and some of the highest alcoholism and suicide rates in the world. But it’s rural!! And lots of cows. And no one will bother you. Or want to be your friend either. And honestly, there are people that love it. I’m just not one of them.

    • Emily says...

      A good way to test it out is to rent a place in a really remote location/small town! For as long as you can (maybe 1-2 weeks). It’s a nice vacation, but if you’re going stir-crazy by the end then that life may not be for you.

      I live in a rural – mostly farming – area that feels very small town but is only 40 minutes away from 2 major cities. I think it’s a good compromise. (I say ONLY 40 minutes, but traveling longer distances for entertainment becomes less of an issue once you’re used to it.)

    • AJ Shreff says...

      I would also be very interested in a post about this subject!

    • The transition was pretty smooth, although moving our home and my studio at the same time was challenging. It took a few weeks to get my studio up and running because I needed to feel settled in the house first and figure out how to work in the space. Not being able to work for 2 weeks was stressful. After years of talking about the possible move, when the time came we were very ready. We also told ourselves that we could just move back after a year if we didn’t like it (one of the few perks of renting I guess). For us, the pros outweighed the cons by a huge margin and surprisingly we have haven’t missed the city for one second. The proximity to the city and friends who visit regularly make it an easy choice. Having an extra room for guests has been crucial. When I go to the city for work or special events I stay with friends and that’s always fun too. One downside to this place is the water, we have well water with heavy metals that is not safe for drinking or cooking with. So unfortunately, we have to buy our water and fill up our containers weekly. When living in San Francisco, I took for granted that delicious clean Hetch Hetchy water source we had!

  18. Jane I. says...

    Anyone else feel like “A Nighttime Chorus of Mooing” would be a fun name for a memoir about country living? I feel like my husband’s farmer cousins would find it delightful.

  19. Elena says...

    How did Julie come across the house? We LOVE West Marin and have wanted to move there for a while. But finding a place to live has proven difficult. Would love any insight!

    • Craigslist! It took several months, but rentals do occasionally pop up. I looked every morning and night. We were the first ones to look at this place, we got lucky for sure!

  20. Andrea says...

    Your home makes me feel like my home is justified. Living in Norway where interior decorating is pretty much the hobby every female takes up, I feel out of place when I choose to have bare walls, minimum furniture and little of everything. Your home is beautiful and most importantly you have made it yours.

  21. Elaine Tran says...

    Hi Julie,

    This looks like a dream! Just forwarded this post to my partner. It’s also something we’ve been wanting to do for awhile. We have steady jobs in SF, but it’s all so….steady. Life here would be such a breath of fresh air.

    P.S. Love your ceramics. Will be sure to buy some once we move :)

  22. K says...

    I would love a post about buying a house vs. renting. Perhaps understanding the finances behind these decisions (cost of house, mortgage rates how long people have had to save for down payments, etc.). I absolutely love this house, and have always thought I would need to buy a house like this to live in one…but I love the idea of achieving the dream life early and renting. :)

    • Rachel says...

      I think the pros of renting don’t really get talked about enough. Buying is such a focus of the US consumer culture and is encouraged in everything from income taxes to retail marketing–that you can get pressured into it, even when it doesn’t make sense financially. My husband and I just bought a house after years and years of renting, and in our group of friends it was definitely unusual to take so long!

      Here is an interesting take on buy vs. rent from a very well known “financial independence/early retirement” (FIRE) blogger: http://jlcollinsnh.com/2012/02/23/rent-v-owning-your-home-opportunity-cost-and-running-some-numbers/. Within the “FIRE” community it isn’t unusual to rent in order to achieve other goals, so I think you are totally on point saying renting can help you “achieve the dream life early!”

    • Eliza says...

      Buying a house like the one pictured would be the least expensive part of owning it. As a committed old house owner (1830s farmhouse), the maintenance is never-ending and very expensive. I always say that our house is as much hobby as it is living space.

    • Tracey Rae Beal says...

      rachel, that article is the most asinine thing i have ever read. it all depends on location, circumstance, etc.

      in san diego, at the coast. you will pay $1m for an entry level tiny 2/1 house. BUT creating more coastline isn’ t happening. creating more land in the neighborhoods surrounding the best schools isn’t happening. Appreciation (even with the bubble) will happen (it may be eventual). people have to do their own research and determination but in my experience anyone who rented their entire life ended up with very little and the same is NOT to be said for the alternative.

  23. Karen says...

    Dreamy!

  24. Hanna says...

    I love this one so much! The house is beautiful. And Julie’s story makes me see my own life through rose-tinted glasses. My husband and I ditched California altogether several years ago and bought an old school house in WV. At the time we thought it was a temporary experiment, but the rural life creeps up on you with its charm. Our kids moo at the cows in the winter, and complain they can’t sleep because of the frogs’ peeping in spring. They never want to leave. Definitely wishing Julie and Matt well!

  25. Lauren E. says...

    I fan-girled out a little when I read Hog Island Oyster Co. My friends and I ate at the Marshall location one dreamy afternoon last fall and STILL talk about the grilled oysters with BBQ bourbon chipotle butter. One of the best dishes I’ve ever had in my life!

    • The oysters at Hog Island are such a treat!

  26. This is one of my favorite home tours on Cup of Jo! So lovely.

  27. Laura C. says...

    My favourite tour as far. Lovely.

  28. LIZ says...

    I want to be these people! AMAZING!

    • Emily says...

      Same!! My dream life.

  29. Denise says...

    What a dreamy life! It’s always been kind of a pipe dream of mine to retire my urban office job and move to the coast and open a pottery studio – with a cat or 3. She’s actually doing it! I’d love to know how she afforded going to college, take pottery classes after being laid off from her job. She must’ve had some source of income during that time and while she was building her pottery sales. I wish the financial details of life-change weren’t such a mystery.

    • Hi! Thank you for asking these questions, financial transparency is important! I’ve always been very frugal. I went to a state school over 10 years ago (college was more affordable than) and I worked full-time for years while I pursued ceramics everyday before and after work. There was a couple years where I worked 40 hrs/wk at work and 40hrs/wk in the studio. My husband and I are making it work by having a strict budget, it’s not for everyone but it works for us. California is an expensive place to live but we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

    • Mandy says...

      Julie, thank you so much for answering this!

    • Denise says...

      Thank you Julie! You are an inspiration.

    • Kate says...

      That’s so awesome, Julie — thanks for sharing this. Love your home and your work!

  30. Twyla says...

    These days we live in a culture of dissatisfaction – so many blogs, shows and magazines push renovations, makeovers, re-decorating for the next season, etc.. I feel like I’m being pressured to be dissatisfied with what I already have. I LOVE that they are cultivating contentment with what they have – appreciating the home for what it is. And they don’t give in to the consumerism mentality of needing to purchase things simply to fill the space. They just let it exist. BRAVO!

    • Trish O says...

      “Culture of dissatisfaction”. Wow, you have beautifully put words to what I have been feeling about the development of the consumer culture. I am so sick of the constant bombardment of “more, different all equals better”. And I get as sucked into it as the next person. I just want to spend less and make the decision to be happy with what I own.

    • Yes. Newer isn’t always better! I’m a graphic designer and a similar pattern, people thinking a new redesign will automatically be better. Not necessarily!

    • Ah this comment reminds me of a quote from my favorite book, Tana French’s The Likeness, about these grad students who move into this house together in rural Ireland:

      “Our entire society is based on discontent. People wanting more and more and more. Being constantly dissatisfied with their homes, their bodies, their décor, their clothes, everything – taking it for granted that that’s the whole point of life. Never to be satisfied. If you are perfectly happy with what you got, especially if what you got isn’t even all the spectacular, then you’re dangerous. You’re breaking all the rules. You’re undermining the sacred economy. You’re challenging every assumption that society is built on.”

      Of course, one of them ends up murdered in their country paradise (not a spoiler, it happens in the first few pages) but that doesn’t stop me from dreaming of rural life all the same.

  31. Kerry says...

    Just reading about her home put me in a more relaxed state. Sounds like she is doing it right.

  32. Chandra says...

    What a stunning home and place!

    Every time I see these beautiful house tours of old homes in remote(r) places I can’t help but wonder if I would ever be able to have a home like that in a place like that because I’m African American. Many of America’s most beautiful historic homes are often in small, red towns with with few people of color. Living in the age of Trump and honestly even before that I always wondered if I could ever live in a place like that and be safe.

    • Peg says...

      Thanks for making this comment. I am always shocked at how naive I can be, these things not occurring to me. I would love to be your neighbor and welcome you – if we both lived in a dreamy small town. I hope so much that the tides turn for the better at the November elections. XO

    • Jen says...

      It’s a heavy and sad reality that so many people have to make those kinds of calculations. I’m sorry. (Though I think Tomales, being heavily blue, would embrace you).

    • AzureSong says...

      I wonder this too since I’m Asian. Here’s what I found on Tomales, CA: The racial makeup is 94.6% White, 1.5% Native American, 2.0% Asian, and 2.0% from two or more races. 4.4% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race. 74.26% of the people in Tomales, California are registered as Democrats. 22.96% are registered Republican. Remaining are independent: 2.78%.

      I grew up in a California town with only a 2% Asian population. I got a lot of naive questions, mostly assuming that we were immigrants, which we aren’t. It’s hard not to feel like an outsider with that kind of set up; however, overall, it was a good place to grow up for me.

    • nora says...

      I’ve had the same feeling. We are lucky to have a vacation family home in a beach town where we’ve daydreamed of moving full time. I am Latina and my husband is Jewish – we’ve both heard some unsavory comments over the years. I think if it was just us we could find a way to make it work, but there is no way I could raise my Jewtino children there. Growing up being the “other” myself in my suburban town, my feeling is it’s supposed to be better for my kids.

      On a different note, this is such a dreamy and beautiful home!

    • Hanna says...

      Thanks for bringing up this important issue. I live in rural West Virginia, and my husband and I are always trying to encourage people to move here. It’s beautiful, and we need people more than anything else. But it is hard trying to convince anyone to come to a place that can seem very . . . unwelcoming . . . in terms of the politics and world views. If it makes you feel any more hopeful, I think the 21st century is exposing even the most remote parts of “Trump Country” to the rest of the world. I see the community I live in being forced — slowly — to become more open minded and diverse. And benefiting from it.

    • Kat says...

      I live in a historic farmhouse in the rural Northeast, and the lack of diversity and general ignorance has been one of the greatest struggles and heartbreaks for me over the last few years. The house is incredible, the vistas are breathtaking, but the demographics are overwhlemingly white and conservative. I’m Filipino American, and I run a flower farm. I never saw myself as an outsider, having grown up in a large metropolitan area, but living here, I constantly feel alone, especially with the current political climate. I never thought I would have to feel scared or worried about someone might do, say, or think, but here I am.
      If anyone else is in a similar situation, I would love to hear your thoughts.
      xo

    • ARC says...

      Thank you for this comment. I am a white immigrant from Europe to the SF Bay Area, and just yesterday, I had a similar heart-breaking talk with my African American friend who is moving from the diverse Bay Area to the more rural Pacific North West. Not having grown up in this country (and of course, also being a privileged white person), to hear of the racism she is encountering was quite shocking to me. I would welcome you, and a person of any racial background in my neighborhood, and I truly hope that you will find the place of your dreams that is accepting of you. I am learning how it feels to be a minority, because I live in a heavily Asian and Indian neighborhood, and my children are an absolute minority in their school.

    • Such an important and relevant comment, thank you! Rest assured that it’s on a lot of white folks’ minds as well – my husband and I are caucasian and always talk about moving to a more rural area, but we don’t want our kids to grow up in a small town with no diversity and narrow-minded opinions (NOT that the two always go hand in hand, of course). We’re in Canada so it’s a little different, but I do wish there were more options – many rural areas here are laden with conservative-minded families and sometimes inherent racism (we have our problems up north, same as the US) and I would hate for my kiddos to think those kinds of views were the norm.

    • The town of Tomales and Marin County in general is a very liberal place to live. It’s definitely blue, however it does sorely lack diversity in race, age, and income. I can’t speak for other rural places, but I do believe it is slowly changing as more young folks move out here. I would love for you to be my neighbor. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, thank you!

    • Sasha says...

      Chandra, I would love to have you as my neighbor and a member of our community. My town and the larger neighboring town (in Montana) are overwhelmingly white, although our communities are less conservative than most other parts of the state. I’ve often wondered what it must be like for POC to live here and I desperately wish we had more diversity. The only African American friends we’ve had here in twenty odd years moved to Calgary many years ago, because it’s more diverse, and compared to here, life is just all around better in Canada. They love it there.

    • Kelly says...

      100% echoing your feelings here. I’m African-American and my husband immigrated from Poland. We would really love to move to a more rural area with our young daughter, but sadly have the same concerns.

    • I’m white, but something akin to this is always on my mind when considering rural living as well — I just don’t want to raise kids in an area where they’ll be exposed to only one kind of people and narrow-minded thinking. Can us county-loving cityfolk all band together and build a rural community of diverse and liberal people somewhere?

  33. Heather says...

    I love this. I love them. Do you think they’d like a visitor?? lol

  34. This sounds so dreamy. I recently returned from a trip in Northern California, and didn’t want to leave. My heart aches for a slower pace of life!

  35. Corey says...

    gorgeous

  36. Laura says...

    Such a beautiful part of CA! And the house looks so inviting and relaxing.
    Random question: Would Julie be able to source her studio’s desk? I love it!

  37. This has to be the most gorgeous house ever !! I’m so ready to drop everything and move into their guest room.

    xx

  38. anne says...

    This is all beautiful and gorgeous and is making me daydream about moving to proper countryside, rather than just suburby suburbs.

    I have a super ridiculous question. Julie seems to have a bunch of lovely wooden furniture made of some kind of composite wood, but it is beautiful. I’m wondering if anyone knows what that kind of composite wood is called. I’m trying to make some very simple furniture, or modify furniture I already have, but when I look for things like “plywood” I don’t see anything as pretty as what Julie has. Is this called something in particular? Sorry if this isn’t the right question, but I’m hoping the wonderful hive-mind here can fill in my ignorance!

    • elizabeth r says...

      I am not 100 percent sure if this is what you are looking for; but maybe try pinewood?

    • elizabeth r says...

      Sorry, blondewood.Pinewood is less likely.

    • Ann says...

      I was recently looking into adding some bookshelves to my home, and most of the websites I’ve seen indicate that you should use Baltic birch plywood. When I spoke to my father about it (he’s recently began woodworking as a hobby) he says it’s pretty good stuff. If you google it, it looks like a similar product to what she has.

    • Birch Plywood! If you go to a place like Home Depot you can see the different grades of plywood, thickness and grain pattern.

    • Emily says...

      Hi Anne,
      A lot of the furniture pictured here is in fact plywood, but there are many different types. If you look for higher-end “furniture-grade” plywood, I think you’ll be pleased with your options. Good luck!

  39. Marit says...

    One of my favorites house tours to date. Smiled through this whole thing!

  40. I love her comments about solitude in her home. I am working from home and am alone a good bit during the week. It has been a lovely experience, and she describes it well!

  41. Liz says...

    Loved this post!

  42. Finding frogs in the house, owls at night, making pottery all day, sleeping in that gorgeous bed…wow. Love it all. I love how she doesn’t feel the need to live up to anyone’s expectations.

  43. What a lovely serene home! And linen sheets are dreamy – we love ours from Parachute :)

    One question – can you tell me where the cylindrical terracotta cactus floor planters are from? I can’t find them anywhere! Thank you!

    • They’re from a local nursery! Cottage Gardens in Petaluma!

  44. Neen says...

    I love this so, so much. Accepting a house as it is and living into it, experiencing nature more, getting away from a desk and doing something with her hands…such a dream, Julie!

    Question for you: where are those open-box side tables from (in the living room and studio)?? I adore them.

    • I had a friend make me 6 plywood boxes for an art residency I did at Irving Street Projects. Once the project was over, I didn’t know what to do with them. They were in storage until we moved to this more spacious house. Those boxes get moved around quite a bit based on our evolving needs, they’ve become so useful!

  45. Laura says...

    We are from the opposite side of the continent (Nova Scotia), but honeymooned in Northern California, and have dreamed of living there ever since! This is beautiful and so much like what we imagine life would be!
    Thanks for sharing.

    • I’m actually Canadian myself! Was born (and partly raised) in Quebec. But I moved out here for school 13 years ago and never looked back ;)

  46. Cynthia says...

    What a lovely old house! It has such character.

  47. Kim says...

    My husband and I were stuck in San Francisco a few weeks ago due to some storms on the east coast and stumbled across Hog Island Oyster Co! IT WAS SO GOOD. We got home and immediately tried recreating some of the food (shaved asparagus salad, steamers with pasta!). I even bought a sweatshirt as a souvenir – the only thing I bought to bring home from our Tahoe vacation! :)

  48. I love how not “decorated” it is and what she said about existing conditions. I feel the same way. I haven’t renovated my 100+ year old townhouse since moving in and I love just living with it the way it is. Lovely home. Lovely people.

  49. Such an amazing house with so much character. (And yes, we do have that Ikea dish-drying rack in common.)

    I’ve read in a previous comment the other day how much work you and your team put into doing the house tours, and that makes me pay closer attention to the words, not just scroll through to get to another picture.

    :)

  50. S.Krishna says...

    I love her furniture!! Can you tell me more about her desk? (Where’s it from, or did she make it?)

    • It’s just a piece of plywood with two legs from another table that broke. It’s makeshift but works perfectly in that space.

  51. What a beautiful home and amazing pottery! such great timing to learn of another potter’s journey. I am spending more time with clay lately and hope to get better.

  52. “Swimming Studies” is the most wonderful book….it really fueled my love of getting in the water!
    Charming house!!

  53. My grandma had similar house when i was young thank you for reminder :)

  54. mwana says...

    Reading this post makes me feel so peaceful and content. Probably my favorite home tour yet.

  55. Kathryn says...

    Thank you for sharing a normal, beautiful life. Inspiring and real.

  56. Gabi says...

    Such a lovely home and what a sweet person! I love the minimalistic touch of furniture and the wooden blocks as shelves.

  57. Kate says...

    She likes Trevor Noah! That’s all I needed to instantly like this post. South Africans for the win.

  58. Beth says...

    I live in Germany, and this reminds me a lot of how people approach their living spaces. There isn’t a strong drive to renovate every few years, spaces can appear relatively “empty” and the furniture/objects tend to be a mix of used/hand me downs and very high quality things. It’s just basically not about showing off how much money you have but doing what works for you. And not caring about everything looking “perfect” which can be really lovely, as this home proves!

    • I love your comment. I like to watch British home shows as well as the American show, House Hunters International. It’s clear from the glimpses into “real” homes around the world that these shows provide, that people in other countries are not as into everything being so perfect (and big!) as Americans are. I prefer to make a homey home filled with things that have meaning to me, collected over time or made by hand, rather than going out to buy the latest thing. And I agree with you, this home is so lovely and just exudes a sense of peacefulness and love.

    • Anna says...

      So nice!

  59. Tomales Bay is one of my favorite places in the world. What a dream to live there! Bravo!

  60. sara says...

    Beautiful. I lived in northern CA for 6 years and this is bringing back allll the memories. Chilly spots in the house, weather-worn wooden exterior, nature at your doorstep, farms galore. Thank you for sharing this gem of a home.

  61. Shena says...

    We used to drive through Tomales in the way out to point Reyes from San Rafael. It was so beautiful and dreamy.

  62. Paige says...

    This house made me feel like I could exhale. Space and peace.
    Well done, you.

  63. Ashley F. says...

    A waiting room couch :) I loved that line. The vibe of this house and couple is so chill and refreshing. I love the open space and the tile in the kitchen.

  64. Katie says...

    This is a dream.

  65. Aw! I’m from Petaluma and have such great memories of driving out to Tomales to go to Hog Island or just to be in the town and near(er) to the coast :)

  66. Audrey says...

    What a brilliant woman and a balanced, lovely house.

  67. Linda Boswell says...

    Lovely! Thank you for sharing!

  68. Mary says...

    So refreshing – I’m a minimalist as well and I like to be that way, but I almost feel like I need to apologize when friends come over for the bare walls. I’m an artist, too- there’s something refreshing and inspiring about white walls and simple decorations.

  69. Sally says...

    what can you tell us about the rental scene in Tomales? is it competitive to find a place? are rents crazy there too or better than the rest of the bay area? would love to hear the story of how you found the house and landed it

    • We found this place on Craigslist and we’re the first ones to see it. We weren’t in a rush to move, but I looked every morning and night for several months. The few places that become available go very fast. There aren’t many listings, maybe 1 or 2 every few months, but they do exist.

    • Sally says...

      Thanks, Julie! Helpful

  70. I’d do everything I could to buy that house. To resist doing anything to do. And yes, absolutely, to linen sheets! I have two top-sheets, from vintage shops, and oh, they are are so lovely. A flannel bottom sheet in winter with linen on top. Heaven. And in summer, cotton on the bottom (because honestly I understand why fitted sheets were invented and I can never find a linen one…!), and the most generous linen one on top, with nothing else. Another kind of heaven….

  71. Alix says...

    I’d love to see an outfit post from Julie. Can you ask her where she got that indigo chore jacket? Looks vintage…

    • Flea Market Find!

  72. Very lovely —- where is the office ceiling light from?!

    • It’s part of the rental, definitely the best light fixture in the house! I believe it’s been here for decades.

  73. Ivy says...

    Love this whole post!

    Question – Would Cup of Jo ever consider doing an apartment in Des Moines, IA? I adore seeing these beautiful homes and cool spaces, but often feel the midwest is underrepresented in popular blogs (generally speaking, of course). And I always see chicks doing amazing, inspiring things, which is AWESOME. I hope I’m not undermining anything here. But I’m a regular gal, teacher by day, and would so connect with seeing a few more people like me!

    I will always read Cup of Jo because it’s the best blog for women on the internet, but thought I would pipe in with my two cents. :)

    • Astrid says...

      I second that. I love the posts but it seems that most are in “cool” places…what about the rest of us that don’t live near NYC or San Francisco? Somewhere in between in the heartlands?

    • As a Minnesotan, I love this idea! (And I love Iowa too. I used to live in a very small town in NE Iowa and there are some gorgeous homes there.)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!!!! we would absolutely love that. we’re always looking for places in the middle of the country, but have had a harder time scouting homes there for a few reasons. do you have any recommendations of places? would be THRILLED to consider! if so, please email hello at cupofjo dot com. xoxoxo

  74. I think that she and I may be bicoastal soul-sisters — I’m about to hit 10 years in my field, and am starting my fifth intro to pottery class. Their life looks deeply satisfying.

  75. Katie says...

    Uggggh, dream life! Like everyone else already, I loved this home. I’m curious, do either of them commute to the city or can both work from Tomales? It’s quite a trek!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      they both work there — julie does ceramics in her home studio, and her husband is a chef for the nearby outpost of Hog Island Oyster Co: https://hogislandoysters.com/locations/marshall

    • d says...

      I wondered this too. I often dream about moving out of the city– but the prospect of finding a job in a small town seems impossible unless you work for yourself or are content with having a long commute. It is really great that they were both able to make this work. I’m a little jealous. =)

  76. STACIE MARTIN says...

    This post was such a relief. :) The idea of simply living with a home as it is, and not feeling pressure to fill it, decorate it, perfect it, bring it up to trend, is kind of revolutionary!

    • Stacey says...

      Wholeheartedly agree. In a Pinterest driven world, this post was incredibly refreshing!

    • Michelle says...

      Agreed. Love their content, low key approach to homeyness.

    • jess says...

      Yes. I literally felt myself relaxing as I read about their option to do less.

    • Michelle says...

      I agree, stacie! Thanks for sharing your observation, it helped me recognize why this post was like taking a deep breath.

  77. This area is one of the most beautiful parts of California (which is saying a lot!). I often dream of having a vacation home there (which will only happen if I win the lottery! ha!) and this home tour has only made me wish for it more!

  78. Sue says...

    O.M.G. I want to move in!!!!

  79. Kristin says...

    Ok, probably the oddest sourcing question ever, but I’d love to know where the dish towels are from. I’m on the hunt to replace my current ones and those look perfect.

  80. Rachel says...

    Love that this house looks real and not overly stylized! My favorite so far

  81. Em says...

    She’s living my dream life.

  82. Eliza says...

    We had linen sheets and loved them; I have never slept better than with my linen sheets – they were expensive and from a place with great reviews so I thought I was getting great quality, and I always washed gently and line dried in the spring and summer…but in less than a year they were worn out where our feet go! I researched a bit further and found this was a common problem. The store where i bought them sent me some patches to repair it but I guess my patch skills are weak and the seams of the patches then tore. Do the Restoration Hardware linens last longer with regular use/washing? Does anyone have linens that have lasted for several years with constant use?!

    I live in a similar rural setting in west coast BC (Canada) but with less space and most of the time, I LOVE IT. We see bugs and birds I never knew existed and my kids watch squirrels stealing food from our compost bins. I love this house tour…it feels like home :)

    • Anne says...

      Our RH linen bottom sheet over time became worn and ripped. The worst is I think they only sell their sheets as sets. I’d love to just replace our set with a new bottom since the top sheet is fine. I will say I loved the RH linen sheets over others we have tried – our set from Rough Linen feels like sleeping on a burlap sack and hasn’t softened with wear and wash the way I hoped. If anyone has any favorites that last and are soft, I’d love to know too.

    • Vivian says...

      Ikea has great linen sheets. I’ve been washing them endlessly and they show no signs of deterioration.
      West Coast BC…..you are blessed.

    • Eliza says...

      Anne, our bottom sheet that gave way at the feet after about 11 months was a Rough Linen sheet – the customer service was good and after my patching didn’t work they replaced it with the summer cover (I paid the difference and shipping), which I am sure will last much longer as it won’t have the same stress load/amount of use as a bottom sheet.

      Vivian, I can’t find any linen on ikea’s website! (besides the term “linen” to describe all their bedding!) Rats!

    • Bea says...

      Never tumble dry linen, always line dry. I put mine next to the radiator with a fan on, year round. I never had a problem with my linen sheets, they just get softer and softer. Also, I only use distilled white vinegar with a couple drops lavender essential oil, never conventional fabric softener. Hope it works out for you! Nothing better than a good night’s sleep with linen bedding!

    • Jessie says...

      Sadly, no. It’s just the nature of linen. My RH set tore within 3 years. Back to cotton sheets for me…

    • Alyce says...

      We’ve been using linen sheets from the Company Store for about a year now with no sign of wear and tear. You can buy flat and fitted sheets as well as duvet covers separately. They’re pricey, but not crazy exorbitant, and they ALWAYS have sales. If you wait, you’ll routinely see offers for 20-30% off and free shipping.

    • Joanna says...

      We don’t sleep exclusively on our RH linen sheets but we’ve had them for over a year (in heavy rotation) and they have no wear but are soft and lovely to sleep on.

  83. Kat says...

    I’m in SF and dream of moving to Tomales (Petaluma outskirts). I seriously went and looked at Craigslist and Zillow immediately to see what’s up there!

  84. Gina says...

    All time fav so far!!
    Love their style and laid back house vibe.
    And that studio, may I visit??

    • Yes! I open my studio a few times a year, planning on one in early May.

  85. Claire says...

    wonderful place! I am dazzled by the space and simplicity.

  86. Meg says...

    Love this, especially Julie’s thoughts in the first paragraph on “living with the home as it is.” Such a no-fuss way of thinking, and so lovely and refreshing. Thank you for sharing!

  87. ElleBoyle says...

    Just came back and had to look at this house tour again. It’s the complete opposite of my life but I just feel drawn to the tranquilty of it. And the ceramics are so simple and beautiful. I have my eye on the candle holders. Thanks :)

  88. Bec says...

    What does ‘throwing’ mean in the context of pottery? This post has some confusing lingo!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      it’s like the part in Ghost! (where you “throw” a bowl by spinning it on the wheel)

      from the internet: “The fast wheel enabled a new process of pottery-making to develop, called throwing, in which a lump of clay was placed centrally on the wheel and then squeezed, lifted and shaped as the wheel turned.”

    • Vivian says...

      I feel so old. Like there is a whole generation that has been born and raised between the release of Ghost and now. Good for you. I am excited for your future. And I hope that throwing a few pots is something that you will enjoy. X

    • Nora B says...

      Joanna, I love that you referenced ghost….such a classic.

    • Bec says...

      Omg Vivian you’re right! I’ve never seen Ghost. The shame! I’ll have to watch it this Easter long weekend.

  89. Alex says...

    Omg obsessed. Also her ceramics are as beautiful as her home. I love reading about successful career reinventions!

    • Chandra says...

      Me too! It’s a beautiful reminder that you can always pivot and do/be exactly whatever you want when you want.

  90. Lily says...

    Her line about accepting/loving existing conditions really resonated with me. I could actually feel myself breathe a sigh of relief!

    • Mary Beth says...

      Me too! It’s such a refreshing attitude. Love her!

    • Erika Oh. says...

      Same! I feel constant pressure (maybe not that intense…) to get my house into some sort of perfect condition but maybe it doesn’t have to be that way.

    • Same on that. I feel like I’m surrounded by people who buy a house and then right away update the kitchen. This is so refreshing.

  91. nme says...

    UGH. swoon. LOVE.

  92. Joaquina says...

    The sound of mooing would depress the hell out of me. It is the sound of animal agriculture aka animal torture.

    • ARC says...

      How can cows on a pasture be considered animal torture? Where should cows be kept? If there are happy cows, I am sure they live up there enjoying wide green pastures in fresh salty air.

    • Sage says...

      I raise dairy goats and my ladies live a life of leisure. Happy cows certainly do exist. There are huge issues in industrial animal ag, but there are also lots of smaller farms doing right by their animals and the communities they nourish. All animal agriculture should not be painted with the same brush.

    • Briana says...

      When I was in that area on vacation, I was almost jealous of the cows. Vast ocean views, endless grass, fresh air. These animals live a good life.

  93. Laura says...

    This area of California is so very beautiful.

  94. Kara says...

    My husband and I live in the bland ‘burbs of Silicon Valley, and we discuss moving to one of the beautiful, nature-y areas that surround the Bay Area at least once a month. This post/their life has me wanting it even more!

  95. Holly says...

    Tomales is just about 15 minutes from my house and we drove through yesterday to enjoy a perfect beach day. I was imagining as we drove through what all the residence of the quaint homes their liked to do and how they ended up there and here this is today. Amazing! Go to tomales and then on to Dillion (the beach town about ten minutes further) you won’t be disappointed!!

  96. Julie says...

    Favorite so far. While I love looking at very very very curated homes, I love homes the most that have what the inhabitants like and need and not much else.

  97. What a lovely space! My husband and I constantly dream about moving to the country, preferably to a farm. It’s so nice to know it can be done! xAllie

  98. Sasha says...

    In July of 1995 we spent a night of our honeymoon in Tomales, at a bed and breakfast on Main Street, had dinner at a little place on the beach. We loved it there so much!! How fun to see this post. What a wonderful house tour and locale.

  99. Charlotte K says...

    Major envy! I made a trip thru Tomales about 12 years ago and felt such a yearning there and in the other little towns along the way to throw over my old life and rent a house and somehow discover a new life. I came home instead, but it is wonderful fun to see someone who went there in my place!

  100. Sarah says...

    Maybe it’s because I live in the bay area and have always dreamed of moving to West Marin County, but THIS is my favorite home tour of all! I’m curious about what to do when you spot a big cat. We have turkeys in Albany, and they gobble all night long and freak out everyone’s dogs by roaming into yards, but I don’t feel too threatened. Big cats though…

    • Lauren says...

      Sarah I live in Albany too with all the crazy turkeys! Let’s be friends! :)

    • Julie says...

      I live in Martinez, and we’ve been house hunting in Albany (and Kensington and Berkeley and Rockridge (aka Oakland) for 6 years now. When you want to leave your place in Albany, I’ll buy it! :)

  101. Gemma says...

    Well this is my new fantasy life.

    • Sarah says...

      Gemma forever and ever

    • Michelle says...

      Haha!!!

  102. brianna says...

    This was my favorite yet. I have wanted to live out in nature for the last year or so, but still be near a city. I haven’t found a happy medium yet, unfortunately.

    • Melody says...

      Brianna,

      I live outside of Philadelphia, and we have everything! You can live 20-30 minutes outside of the city, surrounded by trees. It’s a great combination of history, city culture, and the outdoors.

  103. Lindsay says...

    Sounds magical ✨✨✨

  104. db says...

    LOVE this. I follow Julie and her ceramic work (out of envy and hope some day that’s me) and was surprised to see her name pop up here – yay! I could talk hours about my love for stoneware… Such simple, but GOOD living. Plus, love the story of how her 2nd career came about, as I am on career 2 1/2 -3ish. Thank you!

  105. Lauren says...

    I am obsessed with this home tour! It’s incredibly refreshing to see a beautiful space that doesn’t look hyper-curated and polished for Instagram (although I love that, too).

  106. I rarely get jealous of people on the internet, but this did it. I’m officially envious of all of this!

  107. Marie says...

    Tomales is one of my favorite places on earth! I’ve been in SF for 15 years and love it, but this is what dreams are made of. I get up north any weekend I can. I’ve definitely driven by your beautiful house (not creepy from an internet stranger at all..right?!). Best wishes, your ceramics are lovely!

    • Thank you Marie! So sweet of you to say. The house is very visible and along the main road, so it’s not creepy at all! ha!

  108. Julia says...

    So simple, and real, and heartfelt. What a beautiful slice of life :)

  109. C says...

    This is lovely! The section “on nature” resonated with me so much. I love living in the city, but the noise really bothers me – the idea of falling asleep to the sound of an owl makes me swoon.