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When your family of five calls a 180-square-foot RV home, any living situation that follows is a piece of cake. This was certainly the case for Arrows and Bow‘s Ashley Petrone. After 17 months in a camper, the family packed up their (admittedly minimal) belongings and moved north, upgrading to a 1,392-square-foot 1930s home in Northern California.

Drawn in by the Spanish-style house’s old-school charm—think: arched ceilings—Petrone and her husband, Dino, bought it as a fixer-upper. They got the keys at the end of August 2018 and had fully finished renovations by October, the result of diving in headfirst and starting out knowing exactly what they wanted—all while admirably adhering to the principles of minimalism that Petrone learned from living in the RV.

Photography by Ashley Petrone

Photography by Ashley Petrone

“We were excited; it was really fun to start with a clean slate,” says Petrone, who decorated the family’s new digs entirely from scratch. After giving the whole house a fresh coat of paint and redoing the previously orangey red oak floors so they were more modern, Petrone accomplished a cozy but streamlined feel by layering the little details. She carefully chose warm finishes and scoured local thrift shops and garage sales for unique finds, like old books (though she cops to finding some gems at HomeGoods, too).

Photography by Ashley Petrone

What’s more, she DIY-ed most of the reno projects with the help of her family. The fireplace that anchors the living room, for example, is the product of faux brick found at Home Depot that Petrone painted black for a high-contrast statement. They also revamped the guesthouse in the back (which she and her husband plan to Airbnb) with board and batten strips on the outside, shiplap on the bedroom walls, and an updated bathroom, finished with help from her mom.

Photography by Ashley Petrone

The guest bath was another labor of love. “It was just crazy weird,” Petrone remembers. She gave it a makeover without ripping anything out by adding wallpaper and a backsplash of leftover kitchen tiles. Below, Petrone reflects on the transformation.

Photography by Ashley Petrone

Photography by Ashley Petrone

On Decorating With Three Kids

We have certain rules, like we don’t wear shoes in the house for cleanliness, but otherwise, we’re not crazy strict. I have to be okay if apple juice spills on the rug. It’ll come out! I try to think of that when I’m buying things: If I buy this white rug, am I okay with it getting dirty? If the answer is no, I don’t buy it.

On the One Major Rule of Minimalism She Follows

Just because we had more space I didn’t want to feel like we needed to fill it—we were perfectly content where we were.

On the Importance of Doing Some Things Yourself

If I don’t know how to do something, I’ll look it up online. It’s empowering to go for it and try it. What’s the worst that can happen? When you go into a DIY project, know that there are going to be imperfections. What you’re seeing in a photo is not going to necessarily be the reality for everybody.

On the One DIY Everyone Should Try

I love painting. It’s not hard—everyone can at least give it a go—and it’s an easy way to save money.

On Her Favorite Part of the Home

Inside our kitchen nook, we have an arched cutout where we keep our mail. That was the one thing we left on the kitchen side that’s original because it’s unique and special.

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