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3 Design Lessons to Steal from This Gorgeous 1955 California Ranch House

It took a drive down a long dirt road in scenic Penn Valley, California, for Glenn and Nicole Wright and their two young daughters to discover their new rural home. “My husband and I had been on the hunt for a home we could make our own, raise our girls, and maybe get a few animals,” says Nicole. Along that dirt road, the family found a 1955 cinderblock ranch house on 5.6 acres with a year-round creek, bridge entry to the house, and a barn and pastures.

Once the family of four settled in, they jumped into renovating their new home. It took two years just to finish the kitchen, but we’d say it was worth the wait. We took the tour, and as expected, the kitchen is full of gorgeous details! The homeowners also had three super-smart lessons to share. Let’s take a look!

1. Don’t be afraid of bold colors.

One of the standout features of the family’s kitchen: the bold color (Benjamin Moore’s Salamander green) on the custom Semihandmade door fronts. “My favorite element inside our house is the kitchen,” gushes Nicole, who bravely took on the challenge of painting the cabinets herself. “I am drawn to color even when I try to stay neutral. I am a sucker for anything green or rust.”

Cabinets naturally take up a large area of visual space, so it’s important to select a color that works well with the rest of the kitchen decor. By contrasting the dark color of the paint with the light-colored hardwood floors and the quartzite countertop, Nicole lets the dramatic hue make an eye-catching statement and take center stage.

2. Get creative at secondhand stores.

You never know what hidden beauties you’ll find at a secondhand store. For example, ReStore, which carries new and gently used furniture, building material, and appliances, is Nicole’s go-to source for all things unique. “They are a treasure trove of secondhand building materials and supplies, so I often find things there I would never get from a thrift store or estate sale,” she explains.

“Thrifted pieces have stories: There are the original stories which I may or may not know, and then the story of how I acquired them,” says Nicole. One brilliant example: the three boxes of beautiful parquet flooring she found and repurposed as part of her kitchen design. “I brought them home and took them apart to add to the back of our kitchen cabinets and the ends of our island,” she says. “They are now a very special moment in our kitchen, and it only cost me $30!”

3. Do what works for your family.

While it’s easy to look through a catalog and pick out a room to replicate in your own renovation, a successful redesign should function well for how your family lives. Plus, it’s a good idea to incorporate things that make you happy. “I love what I love and sometimes I don’t have a reason for why that is,” Nicole says, unapologetically.

“The day we got the keys I wasted no time jumping into projects to personalize the house to fit my style and our family’s needs,” she says. Her end goal? “I want a home that is both well-designed and comfortable for our lifestyle.”

Do these tips inspire you? Tell us in the comments below.


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