Kitchy Kitchen Founder Claire Thomas Takes Us Inside Her Retro Mountain Getaway

Welcome to the Kitchy Cabin, a wonderland of midcentury decor and whimsical design.
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Claire Thomas swears she had no intention of buying a cabin; and then her sister went on a lake trip and could not stop raving about it. Immediately, she began feverishly looking up housing prices in locales with natural pools to dip her toes in.

"I wanted something elegant and soothing, but still with a pop of color, so I added the high-backed Boden chairs in Vance Rose with a little ottoman." The seating is from Room & Board.

Once a day, she’d skim through "bizarre parameters" in a multitude of neighborhoods. Some of her search queries included: "What’s the most expensive house in Bel Air? Are there any original 1920s to 1930s Spanish Colonial Revival homes available in Pasadena? What about ranch property in Ojai?"

The master suite sold the couple on the cabin. "Tucked upstairs, it has soaring A-frame ceilings and a vintage wood-burning fireplace. There’s a roomy balcony that had me daydreaming about cups of cocoa at tree height during the wintertime." To modernize the space, she added Room & Board furniture, a cozy Saatva Plush Soft mattress (that she raves about), bedding by Parachute Home, and a rug from Coco Carpets to anchor the room. A large, abstract painting by Sabina Yannone carries the color palette through the front of the room.

Thomas was unable to quell her fantasies about what she’d do with such a property—a trait she picked up from her mom. "My mom would hesitate (just for a moment!) at what she loves more: her children, or a perfectly timed house flip—so I’m sure I got the bug from her." She spent her childhood Sundays perusing open houses with her mother just for fun. Though she hadn’t been to Big Bear since she was 12, she was overcome with an obsession to own a cabin there.

The vintage olive fireplace from The Retro Burn was the first piece Thomas got for the living room. That locked in the color palette of avocado, sorbet pink, and marigold. The Fireclay Tile platform came in when, despite ordering the tallest fireplace she could find, it missed the ceiling by a few feet. The rest of the room is filled with furniture from Joybird. Thomas held fabric swatches up to the fireplace until she found the perfect hue: Key Largo Green. The Soto chairs are swathed in Bentley Daisy with a West Elm Tripod side table between them. Linen curtains in Ecru by Shade Store add drama and height to the space.

"I remembered the lake and the skiing, and now that I have my son, James, I wanted to create a cozy home away from home that we could call our own. I was like a woman possessed. An A-Frame cabin in Big Bear must be mine!" Luckily, her husband was on board to renovate a cabin into a vacation home/rental.

The airy dining room is swathed in sunny hues. A Rejunevation Sumac flatweave rug in Marigold lays the foundation with a West Elm Hayes table set and Wire Frame dining chairs. Shade Store drapes in Ecru add to the gilded nature of the space, while a Brigitte chandelier by Mitzi hangs overhead.

"We went up to Big Bear to just ‘have a look,’ which was very much like the time I took [my husband] to ‘check out this cat’ when I already had food and a litter box ready in the trunk of my car. Mochi has been very happy in our home for three years, and Craig is now a cat person."

The game room is one Thomas' favorite spaces in the house. It features W Morris wallpaper from Style Library, a Room & Board Hutton sofa, a Brigitte sconce, and flannel drapes from the Shade Store.

When they saw the 1970s chalet-style A-frame in the Moonridge area, they immediately fell in love. The mountain abode is nestled on a quiet street a mere 10 minutes from the slopes, and it shares its lot with a gathering of large trees. The house also comfortably accommodates up to 10 people, so it's perfect for hosting friends and their families.

"A game room wouldn’t be complete without the games, and I’ve been low-key stalking Ridley’s games for a while. Their aesthetic is amazing, and perfect for a sometimes family/sometimes adult space depending on who the guests are."

"I felt like an epic bar cart needed to make an appearance somewhere, and the den-like quality of the game room felt like just the place. I used the Brixton bar cart from Room & Board and filled it with some of my favorite vintage pieces as well as some new ones from West Elm. The copper Moscow Mule mugs are necessary for a cabin weekend."

"There [was] room for my full vision of an après-ski family weekend: late mornings sleeping in with the master bedroom fireplace going; puzzles and cards being played under the soaring A-frame ceiling; fondue or hot cocoa bubbling in the open kitchen; and a crackling fire pit outdoors for s'mores in the summer, or a cozy moment with hot toddies and piles of blankets."

The bathroom features a soaking tub by American Standard with Grohe fixtures, including a rain showerhead. Though she's not much of a bath person, she wanted to make it feel like a retreat with a personal spa. "The soothing color palette from Fireclay Tile plus little touches from The Little Market really set the tone...I made sure to include my favorite skincare and haircare products by True Botanicals and Parachute Home. The little bath tub tray has a lovely candle, matches, bath salts, even a little notch to put your glass of wine—everything you need for a long, luxurious bath." She tops it off with an abundance of fluffy towels from Parachute. A large vanity has Semihandmade walnut covers, connecting the modern bathroom to the wood textures found throughout the cabin.

Naturally, her first inclination was to turn to Pinterest for inspiration, where she was bombarded with a barrage of white-washed hygge spreads and Nordic minimalism. While she loves the clean aesthetic, it just didn’t feel right for their cabin. Channeling Big Bear’s "marvelous kitsch factor," her board was rife with color, texture, and surprise—a departure from their main house in Brentwood.

Thomas transformed a loft area just outside the master bedroom into a cozy reading nook with a Shabby Chic sofa, a vintage rug, and side tables. Another painting by Sabina Yannone echoes some of the hues found in the living room tile. The Tara light from Mitzi was just what she was looking for—it's simple, but it counters the extreme angles of the ceiling.

"I wanted to recreate the feeling of an après-ski fondue party—vibrant and chic, but a bit boho. Like Gstaad in the ’60s or something."

Remodeling is where her passion for storytelling—and background in film, food, and media— came into play. For her, spaces are just another way to share a narrative, with each room transporting you to a distinct place and mood.

Thomas pairs handmade goods with antique and natural elements to instill a cozy, yet artsy aesthetic.

"For each common space, I wanted there to be a clear focus, sort of guiding the activity there. For the living room, it’s the vintage fireplace; for the game room, it’s the vintage poker table; for the backyard, there’s a sunken dining room and another vintage fireplace. Every space encourages gathering around something."

To maximize space in the kids' room, Thomas used a bunk and trundle full bed that fits adults as well as children. The beds are topped with organic checked sheets from Pottery Barn Kids and alpaca teddy bears from The Little Market. A Justina Blakeney wall hangings adds a pop of texture. "I wanted the room to be kid friendly but adult appropriate—so I kept the color palette neutral and chose pieces that would work for any guest, like this cute night stand, modern book shelf, and minimalistic reading lights (the Stella Sconce by Mitzi)."

While her Brentwood abode is geared around a vintage aesthetic and preserving the tone of the house, the vacation home is all about being whimsical. It’s not without hygge vibes though—she purposely didn’t put a TV in the living room or master bedroom, as her and her husband have a habit of "two-screening" (working on their computers while watching TV). Here, she tries to disconnect a bit.

Thomas transformed the kitchen from an "awkward, closed-off space" into an airy cook's corner where loved ones can congregate. Thomas put in high-end, smart appliances (the refrigerator connects to Instacart), swapped upper cabinets for open shelving, and repainted and reconfigured the space to an L-shape to fit a row of Shaw stools in walnut from Rejuvenation. The cabinets are all IKEA with Semihandmade doors in Slab Antique, while counter tops and floating shelves are from Limber Liquidators, with brass strap brackets by Rejuvenation. "All of this is tied together with a giant wallop of color by Fireclay Tile. I chose a blend of saffron, avocado, and sorbet pink as my color cues throughout the cabin, and these custom handmade tiles are just so joyful and unexpected."

Thomas renovated the 2,000-square-foot space, transforming the open living room, dining room, three bedrooms, master suite, and kitchen into the eccentric getaway of her dreams.

Thomas loves crazy powder rooms, but leans towards softer tones for master bathrooms. Here, she adds a bit of glam with chrome Atrio fixtures by Grohe and antique brass Hinsdale sconces by Hudson Valley Lighting. "I am so happy with how this midcentury-inspired pattern using Fireclay Tile in Daisy and Sea Glass turned out. It’s dramatic, but still soothing and soft. The sconces reminded me of modernist versions of soap bubbles, and I loved them for a bathroom environment."

The complete overhaul involved reconfiguring the game room and kitchen, swapping out appliances, adding a soaking tub, and installing funky pieces from Fireclay Tile—and the results are stunning. The cabin exudes a sense of stylish wonder with a playful, retro palette and quirky but refined furniture. 

"Just as you come up the stairs, there’s a small catwalk, and for some reason I instantly knew I wanted a little jungle of plants there. I used a variety of Little Market baskets on top of the cutest little green carpet by Coco Carpets."

Currently, she spends a couple weekends a month at the Kitchy Cabin, though she hopes to start spending solid weeks at a time in the cheery getaway.

The Kitchy Cabin exterior, also in avocado green.


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