East Fork Pottery’s Founders Live in an Incredibly Cute, Cozy Cabin in the Woods

East Fork Pottery’s Founders Live in an Incredibly Cute, Cozy Cabin in the Woods

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Name: Connie Matisse, Alex Matisse, Lucia Matisse (4), Vita Matisse (6), Kitty Nacho Amy
Location: Henderson County, North Carolina
Type of Home: Cabin
Size: 1300 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years, owned

Popular pottery company East Fork is known for designing, manufacturing, and selling earthy, sturdy ceramic dishware that looks as good on a table as it does on open kitchen shelving. Connie and Alex Matisse, along with John Vigeland, founded the company, and for awhile Connie and Alex had been renting a house just outside of Asheville, where the company is based. When it looked like a quarantine was going to happen, the couple and their two kids, Lucia and Vita, headed to the woods. Specifically, to this cabin about 40 minutes south of town.

“The original cabin was built in the mid-1800s in South Carolina and moved up north where it was eventually purchased by our genius friends, Helen and Josh Nissenboim, of the creative agency Fuzzco, and remodeled so artfully,” says Connie. “We can’t take credit for really anything but the stuff inside and the landscaping.” Connie explains of the cabin, which the couple purchased from their friends last year.

“Alex, my husband, had a vision for the outdoor spaces and worked with a native plant specialist to surround the property with rhododendron and ferns and blueberries and wildflowers. I can’t wait to watch them all grow in and cocoon us year after year.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Objects, aesthetics, color, texture, beauty, pleasure are a guiding force in my life and always have been, but I never really have developed language to describe my personal style outside, perhaps, of it being deeply personal. I’m called to fill my home with objects rich in meaning and nostalgia, and only if I feel viscerally drawn to them. The things in my home that are most special to me are the things I saw and had an almost animal desire to be near to, to hold, to smell, to sit on, to wrap myself in. Very Venusian over here. 

Inspiration: I never know how to answer questions about style inspiration because while I’m undoubtedly influenced by other things I see the people doing, I don’t track that consciously or go to places, people, publications, or what have you for inspiration. I don’t have any language for design or shelter, really, and I can’t point to designers or movements and speak fluently about anything. I guess right now if I had to put an inspiration mood board together it’d read something like: Baby Spice, big snakes, teen angst, the Virgin Mary, psychedelics, the woods, the desert, the ocean, my husband’s pottery, my grandma and grandpa’s little Tiffany’s blue kitchen in the house we grew up in under the 405 freeway and their big laughs, sopapillas and buñuelos, fried hot dog wrapped in corn tortillas, nopales and homemade pizzas, and the 11-foot tall opuntia cactus outside their window in full fuchsia bloom.

Favorite Element: The path through the woods down the Hungry River.

Biggest Challenge: The house looks big from the outside but it ain’t, it’s tiny, and the kids take up about 1/3 of it. I miss my big-ass bed and one day I’d love to add on to the house so Alex and I aren’t sleeping on top of each other anymore. All in time, I hope. Right now I just wish the satellite internet would let me stream TikToks.

Proudest DIY: Alex rented a tractor and drastically changed the landscape of the property, moving dirt around until we had a spot for a garden, a place to park a car, a flat spot to have picnics, and a level patio. All glory and honor to him, though. He did an amazing job!

Biggest Indulgence: These high-backed, Baroque-style couches in the living room were the biggest splurge I’ve ever in my life made. The room was so small and I felt needed impactful furniture and it was early in quarantine and I’d committed to not buying a single new article of clothing the whole year (I made it six months). So I saw these on 1stDibs, grabbed a measuring tape, and made an offer. Honestly they’re not very comfortable at all but looking at them fills me with a sense of calm and scratches an aesthetic itch at the back of my skull.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? We live in the woods! I spend a lot of time outside, lying on my back, letting my eyes go fuzzy looking at the stars, and listening to the cicadas and the frogs and the crickets. I’d known for a long time that work and social life obligations and doing stuff in the evenings was keeping me from slowing down enough to start tuning in and attending to my actual needs for solitude, healing, quiet, loneliness. My home has helped me retreat into myself in a way I — and my daughters — so desperately needed.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: I have no useful tips! I feel like I spend a lot of time trying to organize my space and it’s just an absolute shit show three days later! I think I’m ready to accept the fact that I have a 4- and 6-year-old and I like stuff and I’m never going to have my drawers be as sparse as I’ve dreamt of them being.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? My decorating advice is the same as my everything advice — everyone’s gotta really get to know yourself.  Like really, really know yourself. What makes you feel safe? What threatens your safety? Where in your body do you feel yourself making decisions from? Who are you influenced by and how do those people hold power in your life? Building a home is such a deeply personal experience and what works for one person isn’t going to work for another. Know you so you can do you.

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

Adrienne Breaux

House Tour Editor

Adrienne loves architecture, design, cats, science fiction and watching Star Trek. In the past 10 years she’s called home: a van, a former downtown store in small town Texas and a studio apartment rumored to have once been owned by Willie Nelson.

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A Rustic 320-Square-Foot 1972 California Cabin Is Exactly as Cute As It Sounds

A Rustic 320-Square-Foot 1972 California Cabin Is Exactly as Cute As It Sounds

Name: Su Pang and partner, Stephanie
Location: California
Type of home: Cabin
Size: 320 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, owned

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: My partner, Stephanie, and I purchased this 320-square-foot fixer-upper cabin in an old mining town in California, to serve as a vacation home. I’m a visual designer and wanted to create a gold country vibe while adding personal touches of old Hungary. (Some of the furnishings were shipped from Budapest.) I identity as a modernist with a fondness for vintage designs and admiration for hand-crafted goods. Small spaces are my specialty [Apartment Therapy toured Su’s other small home years ago], and my identity definitely shines through my work. The fine detail is the most fun part of decorating a space. I tend to spend more time thinking about sourcing from nature or upcycling and how it functions as well as interacts in a space.

Over a year later after nonstop work, “Heidi’s Goldnugget” is complete. We named it after Stephanie’s great aunt, incorporating the history of gold mining in the town.

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite room is the bathroom. I had fun designing the space as I wanted to give it an equal sense of warmness as compared to rest of the cabin. Bathrooms are usually on the colder side. I built the small medicine cabinet from an existing old shelf and a vintage mirror purchased off eBay. The vintage sink was upcycled with touches of gold hardware. The art on the walls used to hang in an old Budapest apartment. On the shelf sits items from nature and a piece of antler found on the property. It feels like the smallest museum in the woods.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: 1972 cabin in mining town

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last things I purchased for the cabin are board games! I have games like Monopoly, Scrabble, Chinese checkers, Jengo, and more plus some jigsaw puzzles for those cozy evenings.

Any advice for creating a home you love? My advice is to steer clear from IKEA or newly produced furniture. Designing a home with quality vintage furniture is more soulful and adds a personal identity to your space!

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.

This Small Wyoming Log Cabin Is the Very Definition of Mountain Chic

This Small Wyoming Log Cabin Is the Very Definition of Mountain Chic

Name: Meagan Murtagh and her boyfriend, Adamo, with their two dogs Rudy Boots and Waldo
Location: Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Size: 760 square feet
Type of Home: Historic log cabin
Years lived in: 2 years, renting

“My friends were looking for someone to rent their remodeled historic cabin guest house smack dab in the middle of town so I jumped on it,” begins Meagan Murtagh, an associate real estate broker and mountain town influencer in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. “Living next to my friends and in this amazing spot? How could I say no?! It’s one of the best locations in Jackson Hole, within walking distance to restaurants, shopping, and even the ski hill. It’s also only four blocks to my office. After work in the winter I’ll throw on my ski boots and walk over to the local ski resort, Snow King Mountain, and in the summers I hop on my e-bike and cruise to date nights with my boyfriend. So many of our friends are within walking distance — it’s such a lovely community!”

“My friend bought the cabin and fully remodeled it in early 2011-2012 after going to cabin-making school with his dad. He did such an awesome job bringing it back to life after it was an old wood shop that had no foundation, electricity, or water. The cabin feels really spacious after they bumped out the ceiling and added two lofts, one where we have our guest bedroom, and another above the front door, which is a smart way to add storage in a small space. The ladder is super lightweight with wheels so I can roll it from one loft to the other when I need to get up there. The best thing in the world is waking up early in the morning and walking across the creaky original wood floors when it’s dumping snow outside, then starting a crackling fire to snuggle up with the dogs and sip coffee.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Collected Mountain Chic

Inspiration: As a realtor, I see a lot of homes in Jackson Hole. I’m constantly inspired by different ways mountain homes are showcased. I like to take snap shots of different rooms or design elements in the houses so pull inspiration from. It’s my favorite part of my job!

Favorite Element: My favorite aspect of space is the wood burning fireplace that keeps the cabin extra warm in the winter. Log homes stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I love having to haul the wood inside when it’s snowing outside — I feel like a real mountain girl — and really getting it to roar.  It smells so good!

Biggest Challenge: When I first moved in, it was just me. Then I added a dog. Then I added a boyfriend and his dog. Our biggest challenge was making all of our stuff fit but we consolidated and donated a lot. I’m a big KonMari fan, so I’m happy to say we all fit with even extra room to grow. He does have 20 pairs of skis (yes, 20!) but those live in the crawlspace until ski season starts.

Proudest DIY: Closet space is limited and my boyfriend needed a dresser of his own, but our bedroom is tight… I searched far and wide for the right shape and height online but couldn’t find anything. A few weeks before he was supposed to move in, I found the perfect sized dresser at a consignment store in town, painted it, and then added fun leather pulls I found on Etsy. I think it fits wonderfully and we nailed it with the color. I am not a great DIYer so this was a big task for me and I’m pretty proud of it!

Biggest Indulgence: I traveled to Morocco in 2019 on the most epic solo trip. I fell in love with the white Moroccan Berber rug in my living room while visiting the city of Fez. It was so much fun bartering with the shop owner and shipping it directly to Wyoming… It was at my doorstep by the time I returned home! I told myself when I got a dog, I would never let him on the rug and that lasted a whole three days, ha! Now they both have a bed on it. Luckily it’s high quality and the natural fibers clean easily. I take it to the cleaner often.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Not a lot of people can say they live in a true log cabin. The rich dark logs make the walls so unique and I personally think anything looks awesome hung on them. I’m a sucker for the white chinking between each log; it adds so much character.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? My dream in life is to travel the world and to fill my home with things I’ve found along the way. I love that everything in my cabin has its place and a purpose. Living in a small space has taught me that I can’t survive with clutter. Lots of the décor and art was found abroad or gifted. I love having a house full of stories. I inherited a painting of a mountain range from my late grandfather after he passed away, and he captured the mountains in my most favorite way:  when the light dips low and every layer has a different shade of blue. My other grandpa gave me his beloved fishing pole and it warms my heart to see it every day on the wall. My boyfriend’s grandfather was a cowboy and his Stetson cowboy hat hangs on the bison skull. All of it warms my heart so much.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: When you’ve got a unique bedroom wall, like logs or stones, it’s useful to have a platform bed as it only has one touching point. The logs also add a lot of visual interest so a headboard isn’t necessary. Cove heating is all the rage in homes out West as they offer more wall space for furniture to be placed next do without having to worry about fire hazards. Mine are up high and blend into the logs, which offers additional heat when I don’t have time to start a fire. It’s also really energy efficient!

What’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? When you live in a unique space, let the house shine by adding to its charm.

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

Adrienne Breaux

House Tour Editor

Adrienne loves architecture, design, cats, science fiction and watching Star Trek. In the past 10 years she’s called home: a van, a former downtown store in small town Texas and a studio apartment rumored to have once been owned by Willie Nelson.

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A Dreamy California Cabin Has the Coolest 1970s Sunset-Inspired Shower

A Dreamy California Cabin Has the Coolest 1970s Sunset-Inspired Shower

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Name: Trent Vierra and my partner, Wesley Gray
Location: Big Bear Lake, California
Type of home: Cabin
Size: 600 square feet
Time owned: This is our second home and our vacation rental. We have owned it for just over a year now.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: Harvest Moon Chalet is located in Big Bear Lake, California. We are perched on a quiet hillside forest super close to all the amazing outdoor amenities of our community. Our home is a cozy, Maltby-style log-sided cabin built in 1960, which gives it a quaint, early mid-century charm. In those days, mountain homes were simply built to help keep focus on the natural beauty we all go up to the mountains to enjoy. We’ve always kept simple, nature-inspired, and cozy at the forefront of our design, from bringing out the natural beauty of the cognac wood ceiling with contrasting dark beams, to our warm, autumnal mountain day inspired color palette; from cozy, textured touches throughout, to making a simple vintage mirror that unassumingly hung in the original cabin the new star of the show.

The focus here is truly on the outdoors and one of our best features is the massive front deck that looks out onto our forested hillside property. Having that open space brings nature right to the chalet and inspires us for future additions, like a tucked-away forest bathing sundeck nestled into the hillside. Oh, and we have a custom, original @verygaypaint mural on our storage shed to bring some art and beauty to what was once the most uninteresting (but practical) part of our property. We had been looking for a mountain home getaway for months and as the pandemic started in early 2020, we found ourselves having more time to finally find the right home, in the right place, for the right price, at the right time. Harvest Moon Chalet is first and foremost a second home for us and in using it as a rental property, we were really inspired to create an experience for our guests that is based on all the things we love to experience best when we visit.

We set out to create a space that people could come to in the mountains that was modern and simple, with natural and vintage touches that fit the vibe of a cabin in the woods. We seek to embody Kacey Musgraves’ “slow burn” mentality. Light a candle, put on a record, and cuddle into a blanket, savoring each sip of your favorite beverage as the classic, warm sounds soundtrack a memory that’ll one day be activated by the signature scent of the candle. We were inspired to create a place that was warm and cozy, reminiscent of the golden nostalgia of fall and of fading mountain sunsets. A place where ALL guests can feel safe, especially guests in our own community who may not feel that a trip to a small mountain town is for them. We want to change the idea of what visiting a cabin in the mountains can be like.

People often ask, “why Harvest Moon?” It’s a very multi-faceted answer and is a story that we absolutely love sharing. Naming a cabin can be one of the hardest things. For us, we wanted something unique that spoke to the uniqueness of that space and community. The name was originally inspired by a vintage 1970s mirror that unassumingly hung in the original cabin and now hangs center stage above the fireplace. During our initial walk-through, we were really drawn to the mirror. Its wheat and moon motif, in signature ’70s warm tones, was evocative and instantly made me think of one of my favorite Neil Young songs, his 1992 classic hit “Harvest Moon.” After that walk-through, we drove back down the hill and discussed possible names. Harvest Moon really stood out. We put on the song. The song, while from the ’90s, evokes Neil Young’s classic country-folk sounds from the early ’70s. It sounds like a crisp night in the mountains, just as summer ends and fall is in the air. It is hanging out under the stars and moonlight with the one you love most. Its melody gorgeously floats like the scent of warm pine on the wind. THAT was the vibe we wanted to go with for the chalet, so Harvest Moon it had to be.

Harvest Moon, being the nickname of the first full moon of fall, also invokes the autumn season which, if you couldn’t already tell (haha), is our favorite season. The rich, warm tones of fall tie right into the rich, warm tones of the ’70s, an era we love and one that ties directly to the mirror. That then became a driving design inspiration for the chalet. Rich, warm neutral tones of amber, gold, and cognac complemented by darker blues and grays. Harvest Moon also coincidentally gives reference to the area of Big Bear we are in, Moonridge, a name inspired by the way the moon gloriously rises over the lush ridges of the forest that surround our neighborhood.

We were inspired to create a space where ALL feel safe and welcomed, especially those who may not feel that a trip to a small mountain town is for them. As two gay men who that grew up in small towns out in the high deserts of California (me in Lancaster) and Arizona (Wesley in Prescott), we understand the hesitancy one may feel to visiting more rural areas, even here in California. We want to change the idea of what visiting this kind of place can be because we love this mountain community and want to share that with everyone else. Being out in the forest up in the natural beauty of the mountains is the best thing for your soul and spirit. Growing up in the high desert is also reflected in the design. There’s a certain Western rustic-ness in the more nature-inspired details, like leather finishes throughout. We are also both huge lovers of autumn, the best season in the high desert (and the mountains) because the heat of summer is over, the leaves change, and a certain crisp chill comes into the air. You can see that love in the color palette and decor.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Simple, nature-inspired, cozy, mountain modern.

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite room has to now be the bathroom because of our recently redone shower. We first did a “light” renovation in the bathroom during the initial renovation of the chalet. We replaced the toilet, vanity, fixtures, flooring (it used to be shag carpeting IN THE BATHROOM), and shower walls, as well as getting the old tub reglazed. We knew that long term we wanted a new and more modern walk-in shower instead of the old tub. After this past winter, we decided to pull the trigger and get the shower done. I had this crazy idea to do a ’70s, golden hour sunset-inspired shower that was done in a color block ombré. We worked with Fireclay and ordered these beautiful matte glass square tiles. We debated between square and the more modern stacked rectangular tile look, but ultimately the square gave more of that classic ’70s look, which paired nicely with the more modern touches like the matte black fixtures and glass partition wall. We kept the same charcoal hexagonal tile floor we had already done as, for whatever reason, hexagonal flooring always reminds me of a ’70s ranch home, and in the charcoal black color, it’s like a more modern version of it. The shower really feels like a luxury, high-end hotel experience now. The window brings in this gorgeous natural light that reflects off the matte glass tile, which really makes the whole space feel bigger and more beautiful.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? So. Much. We recently got the new shower tile from Fireclay and glass partition of course. We also have refreshed our home with a beautiful new slatted wood coffee table from West Elm (as well as a couple new vases from them) and great new leather strap dining chairs from Amazon Home. We also added a great new Marshall speaker. Oh, and we’ve ALWAYS been huge P.F. Candles fans (they recently just featured us for their Comfort Zones series), so we are always buying and getting those products for our home.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Best advice for creating a home you love is to not be afraid to take design risks. If it is something that you love and you have a good feeling about, then go for it. Also, don’t be afraid to reference your design influences and inspirations and use them as starting points for your own creative output. You obviously love those spaces and places for a reason, so let them serve as inspiration and influence. Just remember to put yourself into it with your own unique spin.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.