At This California Farmhouse, the Quickest Way to Get Downstairs Is by Slide

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garden beds outside farm

Door to door, it’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive north from Maggie Clancy’s full-time family home in L.A. to their weekend getaway in Santa Ynez. In the last 30 minutes of the journey, the roads start to wind a little more and concrete sidewalks are slowly replaced by wineries. That’s about when Maggie’s youngest daughter, 7-year-old Ruby, will roll down the window, smell the air, and announce to the rest of the car: “It’s countryside now.” 

Before Maggie and her husband, Tripper, bought their second home in December 2020, they’d made countless trips north (sometimes for wine tastings, on occasion for weddings). But house hunting in the area was unfamiliar territory: They discovered that a lot of homes were either too neighborhood-y or on too much land. They wanted a sweet spot, a place that felt secluded and could support a few animals but was still manageable. Eventually, their real-estate agent showed them a place with 10 acres—the catch was, the house was technically an art gallery. “There was art everywhere,” recalls Maggie. “Carved into the hillsides, sticking out of deep poured concrete stands all over the property.” The building was an empty shell with a spiral staircase leading to a second level. Luckily, the couple was game for a project. “At least there was plumbing!” she says, laughing. 

white stools at island
Cabinet Paint, Relentless Olive by Sherwin-Williams; Stools, Design Within Reach; Pendant Lamp, Boxwood Ave.; Faucet, Newport Brass; Range, Monogram; Island via Los Alamos Depot Antique Mall.
wood dining table
orange pegboard wall
Wall Paint, Pollen Powder by Sherwin-Williams; Trim, Cabinets, Shelves, and Pegboard Paint, Sunflower by Sherwin-Williams.

After receiving bids from architects that were five times their budget, the couple decided to act as their own project managers. Tripper oversaw the detailed plans and elevations they’d hand off to their contractor; Maggie took on the role of interior designer. For three years, as construction progressed, the couple and their two kids holed up in a one-room cabin on the property, but it was during these visits that everyone got to know the land and was inspired by it. “The kids would come back with huge piles of weird grasses and wildflowers and be like, ‘I love this one. I love that one,’” says Maggie. “A robin laid her eggs, and the blue [of the eggs] eventually got pulled [into the house].” 

living room striped rug
Sofa, Rove Concepts; Coffee Tables, HueGah Home; Rug, Kit Kemp for Annie Selke.

Once the interior walls were installed, Maggie had some serious fun with paint, introducing shades ranging from dusty pink to chartreuse. She plucked a hue called Relentless Olive for the kitchen cabinets, mostly because her 11-year-old daughter’s name is Olive. When she went on the hunt for a Malm fireplace for the living room, she opted for a reissued marigold shade that reminded her of her grandmother’s favorite color. 

pink bedroom
Paint, Countryside Pink by Benjamin Moore; Shelf, Hay; Pendant Lamp, Woven Shop; Quilt, Schoolhouse.
plaid tile shower floor
Floor Tile, Heath (in colors grapefruit, hickory, and barley).

Maggie found budget-friendly ways to incorporate the rainbow in the bathrooms, too. While new Heath tile wasn’t in the cards, discarded ones from the Northern California–based brand were. She traveled to Sausalito to check out Heath’s “seconds room,” which is basically a large shed filled floor to ceiling with discounted tile (some of it is surplus from jobs; others have slight imperfections). She spent seven hours searching for the right number of tiles and colors she’d need to create a plaid design on the guest bathroom floor. “One woman kept coming in to check on me and ask me if I was okay, if I needed water,” says Maggie. She then found a driver to deliver the pieces to Santa Ynez, where she laid them out by hand to show her installer exactly how the pattern should look. 

slide next to stairs
Paint, Southfield Green by Benjamin Moore; Rug, Safavieh.

Meanwhile, Tripper had playful ideas of his own. There is one way to get up to the second level (by stairs), but there are now two ways to get down. “The slide was 100 percent my husband,” Maggie is quick to point out. While Tripper gets credit for the addition, he, at 6-feet-4, can’t use it all that much (the couple added a wall pad after he almost broke a toe coming down). Still, Maggie confirms it’s adultproof. “I go down it every time we’re there,” she says. “Or I’ll throw laundry down it like it’s a chute.”

secret door bookshelf

Tripper is also the reason behind the secret portal at the bottom of the slide. In the first few months of construction, she would notice him sneaking off for some heads-down time (he’s a screenwriter). Maggie wanted to find a way for him to feel like part of the action without being bothered in the moment. “I’m like, ‘I’ve taken the day off and it’s such a bummer to watch you work.’ So finally we compromised and created an office with a hidden door,” she shares. The room is totally soundproof: “We can be sliding right outside of it and he can’t hear anything.”  

phone call room
Sconce, Matt Alford; Checkerboard Paint, Southfield Green and Mysterious by Benjamin Moore.
scalloped marble backsplash
 Sconces, Mitzi; Mirrors, Etsy.

When service is spotty (which it often can be), they can take a call on the landline in the designated phone room near the porch. Olive and Ruby have recently memorized their parents’ numbers, so they’re the ones putting the space to use. “One of us will go to the grocery store, and they’ll call and say, ‘Oh, we’re also out of yogurt,’” says Maggie. 

After weekends when every bunk and trundle bed has been occupied by a guest or kid, Maggie doesn’t stress over the cleanup. By outfitting the laundry room with double washer and dryer stacks, she can get most of the bedding stripped and clean in one go. “I genuinely love laundry, but I don’t want to sit here waiting for sheets to dry,” she says. The setup is also a lifesaver now that they’ve listed the house as a long-term vacation rental.

family on bench

Instead she wants to be outside with the “loves of her life.” Yes, her kids, but in this particular instance, she’s talking about her two donkeys. Initially, the Clancys got them to help protect the now 28 goats on the property, but there’s a real bond that’s flourished. “I didn’t know I was going to love these animals as much as I do,” Maggie admits. Olive’s domain is the coop. “She’s the chicken mother,” jokes Maggie. In the morning, it’s her job to gather the trimmings from the veggies the family cooked the night before and add scraps to the hens’ feed. It’s a small ritual that starts everyone’s day off on the right foot. 

cedar hot tub
Cedar Tub, Gordon & Grant.

The Goods

Kira Wall Sconce, Mitzi ($106)

Porter Extended Sectional, Rove Concepts ($5,185)

Woody Sustainable Stool, DWR ($245)

Stillwater Floral Quilt, Schoolhouse ($299)

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.

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