A 1900s Cabin in the California Wilderness

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Dawn De La Fuente, founder of s/he apothecary line, and Ian Ernzer, lead designer at Butchershop creative agency, are lovers of the outdoors. Dawn studies herbalism and Ian is a surfer, climber and nature photographer in his free time. Their connection to the wild inspired a move to Mill Valley, CA three and a half years ago, when they found an early 1900s cabin for rent, tucked away in the redwoods. Their home and environment have been sources of inspiration for Dawn and Ian. “To live in the forest with access to boundless nature is one of the greatest gifts we could ask for. [It] reminds us that we’re all connected — it’s like medicine for the soul,” Dawn says.

“Most all of the home’s original features are intact, but they’re also slightly antiquated and very rustic. Our goal was to honor [in decorating] and embrace the history of the home, but to brighten and simplify the interior with more modern elements,” Dawn says. “To me, a home is a reflection of the people within it. Our home is our sanctuary filled with relics from world travels, art from dear friends, and treasured vintage finds. Every touchpoint holds a story or memory, from the blankets and rugs to our morning ritual with our favorite tea and coffee mugs. Building a home is a forever work-in-progress.”

Natural wood, white walls and cherished furniture and decorations fill their home in a meaningful way. The trees surrounding their home have become part of the aesthetic as well. This cabin away from the city is the perfect place for Dawn and Ian to call home. —Lauren

Photography by Caddie McCumber


  1. Briana says:

    I love/need this house!


  2. Kristan says:

    Stunning. I feel more at peace just flipping through these photos. And yes, the Crow’s Nest (and out to the roof) would no doubt be my favorite features. The only thing I would change are the light fixtures in the kitchen!

  3. It’s absolute perfection, a total sanctuary! Kudos on the decorating. It looks so serene yet sophistocated.

    I’m just curious to know if they get a lot of spiders in the house, not having screens on their windows, and living in the woods. I know that wolf spiders love ivy. When I had a garden flat in a converted Victorian mansion in Highgate in Lonodn, we also no screens, and the brick facade was covered in ivy. I have never see so many wolf spiders (and other spiders, wolf being the largest) in my whole life. They have a mean bite, and are quite aggressive. Maybe they spray their windowsills with detering essential oils? Would love to know, because it’s so lovely being able to open up to the outdoors like that, and my current Weho windows open up to stunning trees, but I have screens. If they have a trick, I’d love to get rid of the screens altogether.

    1. Dawn says:

      Hi Elizabeth,

      We do receive a fair amount of spider visitors, but thankfully the big guys stick to the ivy and other flora. I think that because we don’t have ivy growing on the house itself, more so the front and back yards, they tend to stay away from the house. However, we are often greeted by new webs that cross our doorways.

      We do not treat our window sills or any other area of the home. And I do think that closing the windows in the evening does help to keep many of the spider and other critters from coming in. This is really important for us to do because we often receive visits from neighborhood raccoons and other animals and it’s too easy for them to step right in.

      For all my years in California, I’ve never had screens. Coming from the east coast, that was a huge difference, and I love it! Maybe try removing screens from a couple windows and see if you notice any changes before doing so to the entire house?

      My best,

  4. Emily says:

    I love the rooster print. Where can I find it??

  5. MK says:

    Great house. Where is the chicken sketch from?

  6. Nancy says:

    What a great rooster print- would love to know more about it!

  7. S. says:

    What an absolutely gorgeous home! This is very close to my own personal style and I loved looking through the photos and reading the thoughtful captions (more than once!) Kudos on creating such a serene and lovely space!

  8. Brittany says:

    I’ve been looking for inspiration for my next home (which isn’t immediate), but I know I want to move out of the city and into the Redwoods. This is that home. Thank you for the gorgeous pictures and the beautiful inspiration. It’s like taking my dream and making it real, and affirming to me that IT IS POSSIBLE! That bird’s nest would be a dream come true for my meditation, yoga, and journaling!!! All the feels …

  9. rosekraft says:

    Had to laugh at the description of Mill Valley as ‘California Wilderness’ – it’s at most 15 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge and probably just as far from the nearest Whole Foods.

    From the title I thought the cabin might be in the Sierra foothills!

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      Yes, it’s close to the city, but it’s also right on the edge of a redwood forest in Miur Valley. The bay area is amazing for many reasons, one of which being the close proximity of everyday conveniences (like a grocery store) AND pristine forest and wildlife. I think that’s what we’re going for here.



  10. rasa says:

    This place is so dreamy… Absolutely stunning.

  11. I love the natural wood and the mix of old and new. I love that it’s spare but not ascetic, that it has personal touches but isn’t “decorated.” And of course the setting is amazing.

  12. Megan says:

    Beautiful! Has such a cozy feel to it and I love all the natural light.

  13. JT says:

    How absolutely beautiful! I want to move right in!

  14. nancy says:

    Love the color scheme, so peaceful. My husband can’t get enough color on the walls and I can’t get enough white. So difficult to compromise in this area.

  15. perfect. thank you for sharing!!

  16. Sarah says:

    Very Inspiring. The house is really radiant. I need a lot of windows like this.

  17. Sally says:

    how does one find rental perfection like this? i live in the city and want this for my own! rent must cost a mint

    1. Dawn says:

      Hi Sally,

      I’ve actually found rental prices outside of the city to be more affordable than within San Francisco. This home is actually less than what I paid in SF four years ago. That being said, it would likely rent for a fair bit more if put on the market now. Just keep scouring craigslist and other rental sites. They are out there.

      My best,

  18. Amy says:

    What an amazing home! I could easily live in it! Not sure about the kitchen counter tops or the bathroom vanity….they seem unnatural compared to the rest of the house’s vibe. I could see some reclaimed wood tops or something simple.
    I don’t know about the insect situation there, but here in Ireland we don’t have any screens either (I’m an American transplant) and I too love it! I have found that using thin curtains that let the light in but still stop the bugs work really well.
    I do love your lack of clutter and the white walls (I have the same) but I do feel it needs a wee bit more in the textile department. Like a few more soft furnishings.
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Dawn says:

      Thanks, Amy! And I totally agree about the need for natural elements in the bath. Not all of the updates made by the owners over the years jive with the original design of the home. A con to renting I guess… We try and work around it best we can but goodness how we’d love to make our dream changes!

      – dawn

  19. What an absolute dream, would love to have something like that in Sweden. Great inspiration.

  20. taylor k says:

    What a beautiful home. I dig all the huge windows — and the living room!? Perfection!

  21. Krista says:

    That rooster print is fantastic! Where did you get it? I’ve been looking for something similar.

    1. Dawn says:

      So sorry…but I’ve been trying to track down the artist’s name since Feb when this piece posted and still haven’t had any luck. Once I do, I will share!

  22. Sarah says:

    Hi – Beautiful home. I’m also curious about the rooster print – could you share where it’s from?

  23. ashlee says:

    what color is this white on the walls?

    1. Diane says:

      I love he black and white striped rug in the first slide.
      Any chance of finding out where I can purchase one?

      1. Dawn says:

        Hi Diane, the black and white rug is handwoven and made of wool. I acquired it while traveling through India a few years ago. If you have India on your list of places to visit, then I highly suggest the Kutch region of Gujarat. It is beautiful and home to many talented textile artisans.

        My best,

  24. Emma says:

    Sooo beautiful! x

  25. Beautiful! Has such a cozy feel to it and I love all the natural light.

  26. Care says:


  27. Sonja says:

    I love how D*S continues to celebrate real spaces. You inspire with attainable, authentic, personal HOMES. Hooray!

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      thanks, sonja :)


  28. Charis says:

    Saved as a favorite, I really enjoy your blog!

  29. my blog says:

    Rather helpful, looking forth to returning

  30. Atlanta says:

    Any update on the artist of the rooster print? Love it!

  31. Liam says:

    Wow! And in Cali. That just feels right man. Such beauties should be taken into consideration big time. Thanks for the info.


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