Scandinavian Simplicity in the California Woods

Scandinavian Simplicity in the California Woods

Ana Kamin
Apr 30, 2017

Name: Anne, Dave, Pascale and Liam Lowell
Location: Orinda, California
Size: 2,000 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years, owned

After living in San Francisco for 20 years, Anne, her husband and two children moved north over the Bay Bridge to Orinda — a small town in the lush hills of the East Bay.

It was the better schools that convinced the couple to make the move over the bridge. They found and nestled down in a beautiful house surrounded by leafy trees. The main area has a spacious layout with an open space living and dining room, kitchen, playroom and three bedrooms. While downstairs, there are two more rooms used as a family and music room (Anne's husband is a musician) and one room that serves as an office.

"We feel super blessed to live in our house in the trees," says Anne while she shows us around, "The kids are bigger but if anything our style has gotten more minimal and pared back."

By entering Anne's home, you feel the minimal simplicity throughout the space. There are lots of natural colors and organic forms, like their console table in the dining room made of a rescued plank from their backyard and hairpin legs. Anne's favorite feature in her home is the wall of windows in the living room and the view of the trees behind it.

"It just relaxes me to sit there, read a book and have a glimpse at the trees."

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Scandi-minimal

Inspiration: The trees, Wes Anderson movies, Rainbow Rowell books, Bon Iver, Maira Kalman, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Dave Eggers, Valencia Street in San Francisco and Abbot Kinney in Los Angeles.

Favorite Element: Wall of windows in the living room, and the trees beyond it.

Biggest Challenge: Leaving the sofa once we're sitting on it.

What Friends Say: "It feels like a vacation house."

Biggest Embarrassment: We have a fish named Darth Bubbles. His tank is…often less clean than it could be. It's his fault, but ultimately, we're the ones to blame.

Proudest DIY: [Anne] Painting the ceiling in the living room with my own hands — and the trim on the exterior. My arm muscles were ripped afterwards — my right arm, anyway.

Biggest Indulgence: The painting in the living room — we bought it at the Paris Flea Market at Cligancourt and carried it back on the plane with us. It was painted by a Frenchman who is also an organic pot farmer in Morocco, or so we were told. He's probably an accountant — but organic pot farmer sounds far more interesting.

Best Advice: Try not to buy anything you can't return. Figure out how the room needs to function before you decide how to furnish it. When this house was staged, it had a double living room, and the room we now use as a library/playroom/exercise room was the dining room. Wait and pay attention to what you need regardless of what the room is "supposed" to be and let it evolve organically. When you have kids, it's better for everyone if you can leave enough room for people to twirl around and have dance parties.

Dream Sources: [Anne] I don't dream about stuff, really, but I do dream about houses. I'm a total house whore. No loyalty. My family never wants to leave home, and definitely never wants to move, ever. I always have an eye on the housing market looking for our next place. Other people shop or play soccer. I rearrange the furniture in other people's houses in my mind, or imagine our furniture in a house that's for sale. It relaxes me.


Simply White, Benjamin Moore, Kendall Charcoal (front hallway, library)

My very handy husband built the floating desk out of plywood from Home Depot, the white boxes we use as drawers are from the Container Store.
Mirror – Ikea
Ottoman – Home Goods
Lanterns – Anthropologie
Lamp – Target

Sofa — West Elm
Eames Rocker — Room and Board
Round Coffee Table — West Elm
Solid Wood Side Table — CB2
Nelson Lamp — Room and Board
Floating White Cabinets — Ikea
Lanterns — West Elm
Tray — Crate and Barrel

Basque Table – Crate and Barrel
Knock-off Eames Chairs — Amazon
Side Table—Rescued Plank from the backyard, hairpin legs from
Secretary — Vintage, Goodwill
Fireplace — Lanterns, Target
Mantel Plant — Cousin Alex
Mantel Mirror — Ikea
Photograph (above secretary) Conor Fleming

Shelves — Ikea
Cabinets — Ikea
Desk Countertop — Ikea

Faux Tulip Table — Ikea
Chairs — Ikea

Bed — Room and Board, headboard was leather, covered with a curtain from West Elm
Night tables — Vintage, Pink Chair Thrift Shop in Lafayette
Dressers — Ikea

Drums — Guitar Center
Sofa — CB2
Coffee Table — Vintage table top, legs from
Round Table — Cost Plus
Piano — Gift of Marylou and David Lowell

Thanks, Anne and Dave!

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