When Jo Ann Thrailkill purchased a 1959 cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains, it had been abandoned for two decades and then carelessly updated to be put on the market.

“Everything looked brand new, but it didn’t match the era or style of the house,” Thrailkill recalls of the unfortunate quick-fix. “It was a deterrent. I had to look at it three times before buying because I wasn’t sure there was a way to save it.”

Eventually, Thrailkill was able to envision the double A-frame’s potential and completely gutted it to start from scratch. She combined her creative experiences in fashion, music video production, and nonprofits to craft a light, joyful home that serves as her own weekend getaway, as well as a perpetually-booked vacation rental.

Black kitchen cabinets

Photo via MLS/Redfin

White and pink kitchen

Photo by @rosiecheeksx3

Defying Norms

Thrailkill’s decor ignores the wood-covered and plaid-heavy tropes of the typical mountain cabin in favor of her preferred interior style: a combination of bright white and bubblegum pink finishes that make guests feel like they’re staying in mid-century modern Barbie’s dreamhouse. “The goal was to create a comfortable place, but I definitely lean towards the feminine, so it’s a different version of cozy,” Thrailkill describes. “I wanted it to be whimsical and playful.”

In the kitchen, traditional Semihandmade Supermatte White Shaker cabinet fronts are dressed up with brass, pill-shaped pulls and complemented by a white tile backsplash that Thrailkill likened to a subway silhouette with a Moroccan twist. A contemporary, rounded faucet and durable Caesarstone countertops with an elegant waterfall edge complete the look.

 

Incorporating Personal Touches

To accentuate the angled walls and avoid cramping the small space, Thrailkill decided against upper cupboards and opted for floating shelves instead. She uses them to display colorful personal items that bring the room to life, like a handmade pink ceramic coffee mug from Oaxaca, crystal decanters that belonged to her great-grandmother, and books by culinary icons Ruth Reichl and Carla Lalli Music. An image of Griffith Observatory from Thrailkill’s The Pablove Foundation photography class rests on the ledge, as well.

White and pink bathroom

Photo by Kate Johnson

Solving Problems

Perhaps the boldest evidence of Thrailkill’s personality in the kitchen is the cotton candy-hued Dutch door that matches Semihandmade’s Sarah Sherman Samuel collaboration Blush Beaded vanity drawers in the bathroom. The cheerful shade is an instant mood-booster, but the door does more than just add pizzazz — it allows for crucial ventilation while cooking, too. “I don’t have an exhaust over the stove because it would mess with the line of the triangle,” explains Thrailkill. Opening the top half of the door does the trick.

Thrailkill’s choice of luxury vinyl flooring was also a smart move. Knowing that visitors would be skiing and playing in the snow, she predicted that wood would be ruined by moisture and tile would be cracked by boots. Her creamy white LVF, however, is nearly indestructible. “Everything gets mopped, swept, or vacuumed up,” she raves. “It’s really been wonderful.”

And though guests may be hard on the materials, they’ve actually been the most rewarding aspect of Thrailkill’s experience. “I feel really lucky that we’ve had this place, especially during COVID, and that we’ve been able to share it with others,” she reveals. “Part of the fun is having people tell us that they’re enjoying it and ask for design sources.” It seems like her idea of cozy is rubbing off.

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Renovation

We don’t believe that renovations should be daunting. The key is to arm yourself with the right knowledge, people, and products to achieve your goals. It also helps to ask the right questions: How much does it cost to renovate a kitchen? How do I find the right general contractor in my area? Where do I even start if I’ve never remodeled before? This is where we come in. Through hard-to-believe before and afters, first-person renovation accounts, and step-by-step DIY projects, we demystify every aspect of remodeling and give you a ton of full-house, bathroom, and kitchen renovation ideas. Semihandmade was built on a strong make-it-yourself spirit and we’re carrying that legacy beyond DIY kitchen cabinets (though we’ll certainly touch on those too) by bringing you a ton of weekend projects for novices (have you ever tried making your own planter?) and experts (try your hand at a full-wall media center). What do people really mean when they say a house has “good bones”? Before and after projects show first-hand what’s possible in a transformative remodel. How do you make the most of a narrow galley? Should you swap your upper cabinets for floating shelves? What would it look like if you opened up your small kitchen? Renovation ideas abound in our spotlighted projects. A lot goes into a kitchen renovation, but it’s usually hard to tell from a beautiful “after” shot. Our monthly series “Island Hopping” is about getting a behind-the-scenes account of what the process is like through honest conversations—you know, the kind that typically take place around a kitchen island. We’ll chat with designers, homeowners, and architects about their projects, hoping to peel back the curtain on picture-perfect spaces.
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