If you have spent any time fantasizing about living the California dream life in the Los Angeles hills of Topanga, you’ve probably lingered a while on Serena Mitnik-Miller’s Instagram account (@maraserene) and her well-searched hashtag, #OurTopangaHome. The artist and owner of General Store, a thoughtfully curated lifestyle shop with locations in Los Angeles and San Francisco, shares a cottage with her husband, architect Mason St. Peter, and their newborn son, Wild Hawk Moon. It’s only a 30-minute drive to their store on busy Lincoln Boulevard, but that seems an entire world away. The homestead, originally built as a one-room hunting cabin in 1927, can be hard to leave.
Strut X-Large Table by Blu Dot $1,399 bludot.com; Bleached Maple Stool by Sawkille Co. $850 sawkille.com; Three-Arm Light Fixture by Ramsey Conder $1,200 ramseyconder.com
“We use the stove a lot,” says Mitnik-Miller, who is refreshingly candid about the work that goes into crafting a woodland aerie and artfully embraces imperfection. When the couple bought the house, after years of splitting their time between a rental apartment near the shop in San Francisco and a makeshift cabin they built on a friend’s property nearby, they knew the restoration would be a labor of love. “Only three or four people have owned the house, but they all added on, and the layers have accumulated over time,” says Mitnik-Miller. “Mason and I worked hard to strip it down. It was so fragile that we did most of the demo ourselves.”
A row of hooks keeps hats and layers of clothing (two California mountain necessities) in easy reach, while also complementing the soft earth tones and natural materials found around the space.
Making things—and creating unexpected spaces that are minimal yet warm—is what Mitnik-Miller and St. Peter do best. “Since we opened General Store, I’ve had this desire to live with less and less. Everything we sell is so carefully selected,” Mitnik-Miller says, “and that carries over to where we live.” At home, they mixed mid-century pieces with furniture made by friends. The kitchen equally channels their minimalist leanings, with budget-friendly plywood cabinets and a half-fridge tucked under the counter. In the living room, oversize pillows and cozy rugs create the perfect spot for an afternoon nap.
Now that most of the work on their house is complete, the couple can rest a little— especially since welcoming their son. “It feels really good to be a bit far away from everything,” says Mitnik-Miller. Up in the canyon, the California dream lives on.
“There’s a lot of sitting and lying on the floor around here,” says Mitnik-Miller of the stacks of big pillows. “Mason willspread them out and take a nap.”
Sofa by Hans Wegner $4,000 1stdibs.com; Jute Soumak Rug by Lawrence of La Brea $550 lawrenceoflabrea.com;
Knot Pillow by Electric Feathers $289 shopanaise.com; Large Stonewall Hanging by Heather Levine $1,200 heatherlevine.com.
Plywood cabinets and open shelves create a warm and textured look.
From left: Ceramic Nesting Bowls by Julie Cloutier $120 for set of 3 shop-generalstore.com; Tumbler by Koide Studio $22 etsy.com; Lidded Kitchen Vessel by Victoria Morris $235 theline.com; Printed Linen Tea Towels by Alyson Fox $20 hawkinsnewyork.com; Spotted Whiskey Jug Vase by MerkelWare Vase $95 salon94.com; Stoneware Cup by Humble Ceramics $45 shop-generalstore.com; Triangle Cutting Board by Luke Bartels from $90 shop-generalstore.com; Marble Trivet by Fort Standard $96 fsobjects.com; Stoneware Bowl by Humble Ceramics $70 shop-generalstore.com; Pepper Mill by Pepper Mill Imports $50 amazon.com; Cherry Wood Bowl by Holland Bowl Mill $75 hollandbowlmill.com; Stoneware Bowl by Humble Ceramics $70 shop-generalstore.com.
Mitnik-Miller likes working at the dining room table. “It’s super-functional, and I can paint on it,” she says.
“IT FEELS REALLY GOOD TO BE A BIT FAR AWAY FROM EVERYTHING.”
Wall Hanging by Heather Levine $625 heatherlevine.com; Strut X-Large Table by Blu Dot $1,399 bludot.com.
Anderson Side Table by Slowood Studios $550 domino.com/winter16; Planter by Victoria Morris victoriamorrispottery.com;
Linen Sheet Set by Parachute $169 parachutehome.com;
Natural materials ground the home, whether copper and brass fixtures in the bathroom, a wood mobile in the nursery, or cozy sheepskins in the bedroom.
Ria Rug from $1,545 restorationhardware.com; Kender Hemp Rug by Lawrence of La Brea $2,750 lawrenceoflabrea.com; Anderson Crib by Land of Nod $799 domino.com/winter16; Moroccan Pom Pom Blanket by Nickey Kehoe $250 shop.nickeykehoe.com; Straw Basket by Ghanian Artists $72 shop-generalstore.com; Simple Storage Ladders by Hawkins New York $450 domino.com/winter16
Sconces by Ramsey Condor $200 ramseycondor.com; Aden Cotton Bath Towel by Creative Women creativewomen.net; Niloufer Bath Sheet by Dosa $100 tiinathestore.com; Linen Chambray Towel by Fog Linen $52 shop-foglinen.com; Woven Towel by Deck Towel $148 decktowel.com; Confetti Tumbler by Workaday $34 domino.com/winter16;
The couple installed hand-stamped Moroccan tiles in the bathroom—a refined contrast to the scribbly tub that was given to the couple “by a friend across the valley in Topanga,” says Mitnik-Miller.
Organic Cotton Shower Curtain by Bean Products $38 beanproducts.com
Mitnik-Miller treats her plants like sculpture, playing with different sizes and leaf shapes. For a streamlined look, she selects simple clay pots in similar shades.
The Peace Bell by Mt. Washington Pottery $110 mtwashingtonpottery.com.