We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.
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.
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.
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.