A serene rural setting where you’re surrounded by towering trees, rugged mountains, and shimmering lakes is the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of city life. So naturally, when SoCal dwellers Gloria Noto, founder of organic cosmetics line Noto Botanics, and her partner designer Ash Owens first set eyes on the arresting 1,900-square-foot rustic hideaway that they now own, they knew it would reshape their lives. And not just in its triangular A-frame form, but by providing both a personal refuge and workspace.
Located in the remote wilderness of Crestline, California, with its cozy cabins and quaint cottages, their 1964-built midcentury marvel is the first home the creative couple have bought together. “I was in L.A. and Ash was commuting between there and New York, so we really wanted to find a home for all of us,” Gloria says. She shares a dog, Mio, and cats, Holly and Benny, with Ash. “I still keep a loft in the Arts District so we can go back and forth, but it’s nice having the option to step away from the city now, and to submerge ourselves into this sanctuary we’ve created.”
Neither wanted a costly renovation project, and thanks to its good bones, the property was the perfect turnkey opportunity. Not only that, but the home consists of three levels that include an office-cum-studio and bathroom on the ground floor, an open-plan main floor with a kitchen and dining area, and two bedrooms, a bathroom, laundry room, and Gloria’s office and art studio upstairs.
In their odyssey of bringing the residence into the 21st century, the couple opted for a modern makeover, so as not to compromise its original charm. “We got really lucky in that the house didn’t need any major repairs,” Gloria says. “That was one of the main reasons we loved the place. We changed the old furnace and also the windows, which were single-pane and so thin you could feel the breeze through them, as we needed something more supportive to the elements—and that also looked better.”
Their choice of black aluminium window frames further enhances the stellar views of the ever-changing landscape, and connects to their surroundings—like the tiered seating areas and a therapeutic herb garden, all of which they carved out from the dirt hill that greeted them when they first moved in.
Gloria and Ash left the flow and layout of the home largely intact, and letting restraint be their guide, allowed sensuous textures, abstract patterns, and strong colors to dominate. First, they chose a neutral white palette for the largely exposed wood-lined walls, but then added accents of black across brickwork, doors, and the railings and trimmings of the wooden spiral staircase that snakes upwards.
“It was 17 different shades of orange-brown inside when we found it,” Gloria says and then laughs. “So we painted the old honey-colored kitchen cabinetry a fresh forest green and chose a pewter shade for the upstairs bathroom, to match the existing tiles. We didn’t want to completely change it so it looked like a totally different house, but we wanted to get the color palette to where it felt comfortable for us.” They also replaced old light fixtures and updated plate switches with a brushed steel finish, and added brass fixtures—including a medicine cabinet to the upstairs bathroom—to warm things up a little. “It feels more like us and liveable for now,” Gloria adds. “It’s really been about just changing the identity of the house more to fit ours.”
Eventually, the couple plan to retile the downstairs bathroom and the current ceramic flooring throughout the house that has a wood grain stamp on it. “It mimics the mountain tree life up here; they’re super unique!” Gloria says. They’ll also open up the kitchen space to create a bar area and change the current quartz countertops for a more sustainable option made from paper that resembles sandstone—a nifty design idea by U.K.–based company Richlite.
Elsewhere inside, despite the cathedral-like ceiling in the steeply pitched roof, the main living area is a sanctum of deep serenity—particularly after sunset—made luminous by a set of Gubi Cobra wall lights by Greta Grossman and the gentle flickering of light from the solid iron wood stove. “We really try to use that heat source because it’s more cost-efficient and sustainable, keeps the house warm, and it sets a cozy mood, which is really special too,” Gloria reveals.
The space, with its abundance of healthy houseplants, makes for a prime hangout spot with friends who visit from the city, and the harmonious compositions of furniture make it the go-to place to curl up on the fireside Togo chair, read one of the many poetry or art books the couple have amassed, or simply watch the weather form.
With its unwinding inner calm, the house epitomizes the mindful positivity of its owners. “The house feels like it has its own identity, and it’s fun getting to know it,” Gloria says. “It can become a little bit like Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining at times though,” she jokes. “You have to find the balance, but we have the best of both worlds. I appreciate the city more when I’m away from it, but then I appreciate living out of the city when I’m here. I really love coming home to this place.”