Inside a Big Bear Lake Cabin Where Retro Tiles Steal the Show

The Kitchy Kitchen's Claire Thomas invites us in.
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Claire Thomas’s cabin in Big Bear Lake, California, was practically an impulse buy. Last year, Thomas, the woman behind The Kitchy Kitchen and cofounder of Los Angeles’s Sweet Laurel Bakery, made the two-hour drive from L.A. to the picturesque mountain town with her husband just to look around. Before the day was done, she had stumbled upon the rustic-chic A-frame of her dreams. “We went in and I was immediately like, ‘This could be so amazing!’” says Thomas, who describes her unexpectedly quick path to second-home ownership as “a six-hour journey.”

When it came time to design the space, however, she took a more deliberate approach. Her very specific vision:

“I wanted it to feel like Annette Funicello could be eating fondue here.” To that end, Thomas settled on a groovy palette of avocado green, marigold, and sorbet hues and installed freestanding, retro-modern fireplaces both indoors and out. “Whether it’s winter and you want to sit outside by the fire under a blanket, or it’s summer and you want to roast s’mores, you have the opportunity to do it here,” says Thomas of the appropriately dubbed Kitchy Cabin, available starting this winter on Airbnb. “I wanted every space to have a moment where people would find joy.” Ahead, Thomas invites us on a tour of the gorgeous new space and shares her top tips to create a rustic haven at home.

Add Pops of Pattern

Thomas used both wallpaper and tile accents to bring in color and add interest to the otherwise white walls. The dining room’s verdant tree print nods to the cabin’s woodland setting. In the living room, the raised platform on which the vintage fireplace sits is tiled with the same eye-popping mosaic as the kitchen backsplash. “I thought it would be so fun to have these unexpected moments,” says Thomas.

Take It Easy in the Kitchen

With a double oven and high-tech refrigerator— her snazzy Samsung can play music, search for recipes, and take notes—Thomas’s cabin kitchen is a cook’s dream. Still, the pro baker and recipe developer isn’t one to slave over the stove while her friends feast. “I would describe my entertaining style as lazy hostess,” she says, laughing. A big fan of group efforts like her annual cookie swap, she’s also keen on getting the lion’s share of work out of the way before her guests arrive. “When it comes to dinner parties,” she says, “my rule is that for every one thing that’s hot coming out of the oven, three things have to be made ahead.”

Play Up Your Centerpiece

Thomas snagged the vintage avocado green fireplace in the living room on Craigslist— after picking up some haggling tips from a fireplace expert she discovered on Instagram—and used it as a jumping-off point for the home’s unexpected, cheerfully nostalgic color scheme. The platform on which it sits was born out of necessity—the fireplace needed to be elevated 18 inches to fit the space—but ended up becoming a focal point, clad in the same Fireclay Tile pattern that graces the kitchen backsplash. “When I go away for a weekend, I want to be transported,” says Thomas, “so I wanted to do something that was really different and out there.”

Work With What You’ve Got

Aside from renovating the tiny bathrooms—“I could not fathom how someone over 6 feet would shower in there,” she says—Thomas and her husband made very few structural changes to the home. Instead, the couple chose furnishings that worked with the cabin’s charming quirks. The master bedroom, for example, is tucked under the A-frame roof, with 10-foot ceilings but a modest footprint. “The issue with a lofted space is that it’s deceptively small,” says Thomas. To echo that verticality, she made sure to choose pieces with some height—a tall and skinny mirror, high-backed accent chairs—“so it didn’t feel like there was this superhigh ceiling and all this small furniture,” she explains.

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of Domino, titled “Into the Woods.” Subscribe to be the first to receive each issue!

Lydia Geisel Avatar

Lydia Geisel

Home Editor

Lydia Geisel has been on the editorial team at Domino since 2017. Today, she writes and edits home and renovation stories, including house tours, before and afters, and DIYs, and leads our design news coverage. She lives in New York City.