Rachael Ann Lunghi is a stylist and floral designer based in San Diego, CA who recently purchased a cabin in the woods along with her mother, Ginni Field. The intention behind this mountain cabin is a beautiful one — taking the sadness over a death in the family and turning it into a new path and new memories. After the passing of Rachael’s grandfather — Ginni’s father — they faced a first holiday season that they’d be spending without him, so they decided to seek out a new tradition.
Having grown up on the East Coast with true seasons (especially when compared to San Diego, where Rachael now lives), Rachael and Ginni decided to head up to the mountains for some snow. They loved their time and new tradition so much that they began looking for their own little mountain escape. When they found the cabin they felt was “the one,” they enlisted designer Betsy Ginn of
SMID. Rachael gave Betsy full rein of the design, and when Rachael first walked into the cabin after the design was completed, she immediately burst into happy tears.
The mother/daughter duo has now owned their home in Big Bear City, CA for just over a year and they also love to share it
as a rental so others can enjoy the magic it has to offer — whether that’s seeing snow in Southern California, escaping the city, breathing in fresh mountain air, or making memories with loved ones. Follow along to see how this 1976 kit cabin, that clocks in at just under 1,000 square feet, maintains vintage charm and mountain vibes. — Rebekah
Photography by Ashley Kelemen and Taryn Kent Photo
Image above: Rachael explains how a part-time gig led to one of her most meaningful relationships, and collaborators: “A ways back, when I was building my career in the wedding/event industry, I started nannying to supplement my income and happened upon the most special family I could have ever asked to work with. Betsy, of SMID, was and is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Working with her on this project and just letting her run free and be creative was a dream come true for the both of us.”
“Betsy has the most special way of creating a space that feels like the client,” Rachael (above) explains of her designer. “She wanted to sort-of paint my portrait within the space and I think she absolutely nailed it — that’s probably why I had such an emotional reaction when I first walked in. Experiencing her full design for the first time was so thoughtfully pieces of myself, that I instantly got overwhelmed.”
Rachael shares, “I didn’t get to see much of the in between — just initial brainstorming and inspiration boards, a few sneaks along the way, and some images of furniture items. I really wanted to give her design control and a blank canvas and man, did it pay off! When I first walked into the front door, I completely lost it and started crying. I couldn’t believe how beautiful and thoughtfully curated everything was.”
“I feel like overall, my mama and I always care about the kitchen the most, and I think that’s why we all focused a lot of our energy on that room, specifically. I want a kitchen that is beautiful and functional and has all the things I need to cook for friends and family in it,” Rachael explains.
Kitchen essentials and vintage treasures abound on the kitchen shelves.
A cabin kitchen, with everything needed to entertain and cook meals for family and friends.
Flooring fit for a mountain escape layered with beautiful vintage rugs.
“Partnering with my mama on this project was a special experience as well. Design and travel are things I’m so passionate about — things that she raised me experiencing, and [the] bonus: she just happens to be a real estate queen. This cabin has so much of our hearts in it because we bought it in order to share it with others, of course, but mainly to start a new tradition after losing someone so special to the two of us and in a way, to honor him.”
A classic Wedgewood was one of the many vintage pieces that Betsy selected for the cabin.
Rachael has some sage words for anyone thinking about working with a designer: “If you hire a designer,
trust them. Choose someone who you feel is in line with your vision and can execute something you’ll love. It’s like hiring any creative — choose them because you love their creations, then let them run with it! If you wanted to control every element, then you probably should have done it yourself.”
Rachael explains how thoughtful design details are evident throughout their home, “It feels like pieces of myself are everywhere. Betsy does such a beautiful job of showcasing her clients in their spaces. I still get the same feeling each time I walk in, as I did on ‘reveal’ day.”
“I’ve slowly moved other bits and pieces up [to the cabin]. We’re forming a pretty great record collection, and I’ve left other books and little things here and there.”
The design process of the cabin began with none other than a slumber party! “First, Betsy and I did a design and inspiration slumber party trip, together with her assistant and her kids, shortly after closing on the home. We all stayed in the living room together on two air mattresses. She wanted to be able to see how the light moved through the house in the course of a 24-hour period and to really feel and experience what it was going to be like for others to stay there.”
A vintage plaid cot not only sleeps an extra guest, but also fits the bill perfectly for a cabin in the woods.
Fireplace tools and a stack of books are kept within reach in the living room.
Rachael shares the considerations they made during the design process, “I think we kept a few key things in mind as far as design and functionality goes. We wanted it to feel livable and cozy, but still choose pieces that could handle wear and use considering it was a vacation rental.”
“I’ve mainly grown up in San Diego, but I was originally born on the East coast. I knew seasons as a little one. I got to experience each one, fully, and it felt so magical! Because of that, I’ve kind-of always loved the mountains as equally as I do the coastline and I’ve always
dreamed of having a mountain house one day,” Rachael shares.
A close-up of the vintage postcards that Rachael and Ginni have left for their guests to use as a guestbook alternative.
The cabin bathroom features a vintage clawfoot tub and enclosure.
“When we first went looking, mama had a list of several [houses] for us to check out. This was the first one we saw and walked into, and I knew it was the one. Nothing else compared! I sent Betsy images and she was right there with me. We bought it shortly thereafter!”
When asked what Rachel’s favorite parts of the cabin are, she answers, “Everything. It’s such a special getaway place for us now. And I’m most thankful for the experience of getting to pull it off with two of my most favorite people — my mom and Betsy.”
Rachael shares her approach to creative projects: “If you’re doing a lot of it yourself, and I guess this would just be my general outlook on creating, trust your instincts/listen to your gut and what you’re drawn to. I find that nowadays, it’s very easy to be ‘inspired.’ It’s all around us! And that’s a beautiful gift. But, that being said, it’s also very easy to just do what everyone else is doing. Be uniquely you! Try things that are out of the box and have fun with it! Your energy is going into this home/space and people should see your energy when they enter it. And, I think that’s best done by just creating a space by following your heart and being open to trying new things!”
“I just can never get enough of the original cedar paneling. That was my favorite feature when we first walked in, and it’s still my favorite feature,” Rachael admits. “It’s in every room of the home except for the kitchen, and it just gives off the coziest energy.”
A sun drenched peek into the guest bedroom.
“We knew we wanted to be able to house at least four people comfortably, so that played a factor into the design ideas Betsy had,” Rachael explains.
When you enter the cabin, Rachael says the feeling is instant, “Cozy and peaceful. Once you walk in, you don’t want to leave!”
Lastly, Rachael gives us a little advice for anyone who’s facing renovations from what she learned through their own. “I think mainly in regards to time management and timelines — you learn to go with the flow. Things just come up in these renovations/projects and not always ones you would expect. Mainly, when it came to a mountain house, where it snows, we had lots to think about in regards to plumbing and electrical. I would just say, projected timelines are a good thing and of course, try to keep yourself and everyone else involved on track, but also go in knowing that things may go slightly off-course here and there and just try to be relaxed about that if you can.”
Chair in bedroom –
Record player –
Everything else – vintage sourced from thrift stores and flea markets