Chris + Kenny’s Ojai Rancho Inn

published Aug 19, 2013
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A white brick fireplace with several terra cotta pots with plants on top of the mantel
(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

Name: Chris Sewell + Kenny Osehan // Ojai Rancho Inn
Location: Ojai, California
Size: 18 Rooms + Swimming Pool and Sauna
Years lived in: New ownership as of June 12th, 2012

The last time I visited Chris and Kenny was when I photographed their old apartment in Downtown Santa Barbara for their first House Tour. At the time they were running the Presidio Motel on State Street, as well as the Agave Inn. A few years later their company, the Shelter Social Club, no longer runs the Presidio, but they have acquired the Ojai Rancho Inn. By turning this 1950’s retro roadside motel into a new destination for locals and travelers, I truly believe they have put Ojai back on the map.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)
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The only thing I ever really remember about Ojai is that Dylan’s mom Iris McKay lived there on Beverly Hills 90210. I knew it was a small town north of LA and that it was supposedly occupied by farmers and hippies. Besides driving through town once on whim last spring, I had never really spent any time there. Seeing photos of Chris and Kenny’s new hotel all over Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook finally piqued my interest in another visit.

Pulling into the parking lot of the Ojai Rancho Inn, you’re immediately transported back to 1950’s. Chris and Kenny aimed to restore the style of the original architecture and decor, but added their own flavor of bohemia and mid century design. They have combined design elements, artwork and decor by independent artists and makers to modernize the design, while emphasizing a vintage feel.

The hotel is equipped with bikes available to ride into town, barbecue grills on the lawn and a campfire pit. In the summer there are live concerts in the backyard, where Chris and Kenny have built a new deck and a table big enough for events. They also own the two story home next door to the Inn, which is available for rental. This will be a great spot for families and large group events, especially when the Inn starts hosting weddings.

Welcome to the Ojai Rancho Inn!

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Rustic Californian nostalgia meets the Spiritual Vortex.

Inspiration: The rustic/architectural elements of the Rancho: the wood cabin feel to the rooms, the red and white ranch/barn colors of the building, the way the space is set up to feel very communal and inviting. Also, Ojai itself inspired a lot of our design features. Krishnamurti paved the way for spirituality in Ojai, which brought followers such as Beatrice Wood to bring her influence to the valley. We wanted to bring that sense of spirituality and the arts that Ojai embodies to the Rancho

Favorite Element: Heather Levine’s Ceramic light pendants.

Biggest Challenge: Addressing all the years of neglected plumbing and electrical work and keeping up with all the problems that constantly come up with an old building.

Biggest Embarrassment: The bathrooms… one day we’ll be able to renovate them. Baby steps!

Proudest DIY: Overcoming the City Permitting for our new sign! It took us 5 months to get it approved!

Biggest Indulgence: The Heather Levine ceramic chandeliers in the lobby…worth every penny! Now we just wish we had one in our own home!

Best Advice: Be really nice to city planners.

Dream Sources: All the amazingly talented artists who worked with us on this project!

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resource List:

  • Bed frames – already here when we took over the hotel.
  • Desks and clothing racks- built by our contractors
  • Metal frame leather woven patio chairs- Eric Trine
  • Shuffle Board and wall art above bed- Adam Pogue
  • The pool was never renovated, just added new pool furniture
  • Indigo Tie Dye Curtains- Lookout and Wonderland
  • Vintage airstream, which is not for rent but occasionally occupied when friends come to visit.
  • In the large guest house- some pieces from Amsterdam Modern
  • In the large guest house -Sofas + desks by Shaun Wallace
  • Wood stage and main office desk, benches and shelves – Shaun Wallace
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Chris + Kenny!

(Images: Bethany Nauert)

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Re-edited from a tour originally published August 2013 — AB