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Interiorssneak peeks

In Nevada City, a Rustic Retreat Handcrafted with Love

by Sofia Tuovinen

In Nevada City, a Rustic Retreat Handcrafted with Love | Design*Sponge
There’s one debate my boyfriend and I keep having time and time again — I want to stay in an apartment in the city, he eventually wants a house and a garden, if not a bit of land, too. But although I’m a city girl at heart, I sometimes find myself browsing real estate listings for old homes out in the country. Finding that rundown farmhouse that I could fix up to my heart’s desire is definitely a daydream I keep on having. When I stumbled upon Ariana and Scott DeFalco, two teachers who made their own farmhouse dreams come true on the outskirts of Nevada City, CA, I was instantly inspired. Today, I couldn’t be more excited to share a project that they worked on for over two years — an old barn, which they lovingly converted into a guest cabin for their parents and extended family.

Before buying their farmhouse five years ago, Ariana and her young daughters used to visit the abandoned property with the neighbors’ permission. Never expecting that she and Scott would be able to buy the house, Ariana spent hours imagining what it would be like to live on that beautiful plot of land, completely surrounded by nature. The place even included a partially converted barn, which she thought would make a perfect guest cabin. It wasn’t long before daydreams became reality, and an opportunity to buy the old property presented itself.

Converting the barn into a warm and welcoming cabin was a feat that Scott accomplished in his spare time on weekends and holidays. Ariana and Scott both wanted to preserve the rustic feel of the barn, emphasizing the original timber plank floors and building off of their worn look and feel. With a minimal budget, Scott started by gathering salvage materials and pieces, including old, weathered redwood fencing, an old enamel bathtub, and vintage sinks. While he did use power tools, much of the finer details were accomplished with an old Disston miter saw from 1908, an old Stanley hand plane and assorted Japanese hand saws.

Ariana and Scott feel that there is so much to be grateful for when it comes to their skillfully crafted guest cabin and their back-to-the-land life in general. “It’s beauty, peacefulness and the feeling of being able to offer such a labor of love to our friends and family to stay should they need shelter or just want to visit.” I hope peeking into this rustic retreat will inspire you as much as it did me.

Ariana and Scott’s cabin is also available to rent on Airbnb whenever family members aren’t visiting!  — Sofia

Photography by Kat Alves 

Image above: Ariana and Scott converted an old 425-square-foot barn on their property into a rustic retreat for friends and family. The open-plan cabin is filled with salvaged and thrifted items for a worn, authentic feel.

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The family’s guests can enjoy a moment of solitude in the eclectically decorated living area, and crawl up to the loft for a good night’s sleep at the end of the day.

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Ariana and her daughter Odelia enjoy their little cabin when it’s not occupied by visitors. After Odelia and her sister Beatrice eventually fly the nest, Ariana and Scott have plans of moving into the cabin themselves.

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Scott built the custom countertops from hickory wood butcher block. The cabinetry is made of weathered redwood fencing, which continues as wainscoting around the dining nook for a cohesive feel.

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One day during the kitchen construction, Ariana and her mother came to the barn to see Scott’s progress. To their distaste, the kitchen counter jutted across the floor into the middle of the living room! “It was impossible not to laugh because it became obvious that Scott, who is Italian-American, had gotten a little carried away with his ‘pizza parlor’. The next day he cut it down by half to fit the space a bit more gracefully,” Ariana shares.

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At first, Ariana and Scott thought about using the original wood floors as a sub floor. When Ariana’s uncle, a master carpenter, pointed out that nobody gets to have the feeling of old growth timber planks under their feet in a living space anymore, they didn’t think twice about keeping the original floors.

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Fresh eggs from the family’s chickens, handcrafted tea blends and useful kitchen items add to the charm of the dining nook hutch.

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“What I love most about our home…that it gives new life to reclaimed wood, windows, furniture, appliances and artwork!” — Ariana

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French doors lead to a cedar deck, the ideal spot to sit and listen to songbirds and watch for wildlife. Ariana remembers Scott taking her on a date to the local lumber mill to get the cedar for the deck. “Kubich Lumber is located in the bottom of a forested valley with a creek running through. The lumber houses are old herringbone barns. There’s no internet or computers at the lumber mill office, just racks of hunting rifles, a cast iron wood stove and an old cash register.” As Scott loaded up the truck with freshly milled cedar, Ariana lazed around in the flowers by the creek and enjoyed the beautiful landscape.

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An antique Afghan rug in vibrant colors anchors the living area. 


In Nevada City, a Rustic Retreat Handcrafted with Love | Design*Sponge
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A wingback chair that Ariana found on a street corner is the perfect spot for reading or birdwatching through the window. The wicker elephant side table was handed down from a neighbor.

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A sturdy ladder leads up to a sleeping loft for two.

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In order to save head space, the sleeping loft was constructed with 2×6 tongue and groove lumber, without using joists. At bedtime, guests can gaze at the stars in the night’s quiet.

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The dining nook, viewed from the sleeping loft.

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A wardrobe that Scott built out of reclaimed wood is the ideal storage solution for visiting guests.

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Rustic and weathered wood make Ariana and Scott’s guest cabin a warm and peaceful getaway. “We feel that it’s a luxury in this era to be able to live rustically, close to nature and surrounded by wood and natural materials,” Ariana adds.

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A 2×6 ledger along the bathroom ceiling holds up the loft above. Scott was planning on covering it with sheet rock, but Ariana came up with a more unique solution. She remembered her dad, a carpenter, trimming out beams and ledges to give them a softer look. “This worked beautifully in the bathroom and looks deliberate, like crown molding.”

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The guest cabin, nestled on a sunny hillside and tucked away between gorgeous wildflowers and the forest, was converted from a barn with parents and extended family in mind.

In Nevada City, a Rustic Retreat Handcrafted with Love | Design*Sponge
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Ariana and Scott with their daughters Beatrice and Odelia and some of the family’s feathered friends.

In Nevada City, a Rustic Retreat Handcrafted with Love | Design*Sponge
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Floor plan of the family’s guest cabin.

SOURCE LIST

Walls: Gentle Cream by Benjamin Moore
Trim: Washington Blue by Benjamin Moore
Stove: Hearthstone Santa Fe model
All furniture is thrifted.

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Comments

  • Just a little piece of Heaven! What a peaceful and happy looking home (and family!). Forgive me, but how nice it is not to see young hipsters or wealthy yuppies. Refreshing post! :)

  • Yay, so fun to see Nevada City and our commitment to handmade/thrifted/intentional slow living represented on DesignSponge!

  • Any chance you have before photos of the wood floors? They look very similar to what I found under the carpet in my house (built in 1913), and I’d love to know if I could achieve the same beauty!

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