Nancy, Ethan, & Ohle's 1903 Cabin in the Country

Nancy, Ethan, & Ohle's 1903 Cabin in the Country

Marcia Prentice
Nov 3, 2011

Name: Nancy Neil & Ethan Brostedt
Location: Carpinteria, California
Size: 1600 Square Feet - 2 bed, 2 bath
Years lived in: 4 years

Nancy and Ethan's 1903 cabin features a wrap around porch and is situated on 80 acres. They rent the home from a friend whose family has owned the property since 1846. Because the home is so special and the grounds are magical, they don't have any plans on moving anytime soon. They plan on renting indefinitely until they can build their own home from reclaimed materials.

Looking at the home Nancy and Ethan created, it reminds me of all the elements that make a house a home - everything in their home is special and has a personal meaning. Can I move in... or at least come over to visit?

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Our style is cozy and comforting. Most everything in our home was a gift, thrift or trade...and took time to acquire. It's important to both of us that it feels warm and inviting...a home, rather than just a house.

Inspiration: We are both very visual people with an acute attention to being a photographer and Ethan with his background in we have definitely put effort into a visual vibe that is calming, interesting and unique. There are many years of love put into all that we own. We have many different friends who are constantly adding to the environment...with art, cooking and odds and ends of inspiring momentums. Our friends and comfort are the inspiration in our lives and in our home.

Favorite Element: Preservation: The fact that they kept the cabin portion of the house (built in 1903) in tact and in perfect condition when moving it here (to prevent it from being torn down for new development in town) is awesome. The wooden door with horseshoe was the original door to the cabin but was used in the master bath as the closet door. We are pretty attached to the fact that we live tucked away in an orchard close to the ocean. I'd say this is our favorite element. The house could be any type or size and we'd be perfectly happy because of the location.

Biggest Challenge: Um...parenthood is the biggest challenge when decorating any space. We constantly have to be aware of creating an environment where our toddler (and soon to be born) can feel's not appealing to be in any space where you have to constantly supervise and keeps paws and mitts off of everything! Hence all the beautiful woven baskets filled with Ohle's toys in each room of the investment ever!

What Friends Say: Oh well, this is easy. "This is my dream home, feels like home...etc. etc."

Biggest Embarrassment: None.

Proudest DIY: The best thing we did to this house was to bring a lot of light in by painting certain areas and ceilings bright white. The wood is super cozy, but can be very dark. We love that the floors are plywood! We never have to worry about scratching them, spills, or all the dirt our Australian Shepard drags in.

Biggest Indulgence: We splurge on cookware. I love to cook and Ethan loves to eat! Le Crueset and I have a certain understanding which no other cookware compares. I also can't say enough how amazing our Wedgewood Stove is...really.

Best Advice: We arranged our home with the help of our friend and expert...according to Feng Shui. Sounds silly...but really improved the feeling of the space tremendously.

Dream Source: When we do have to find a specific article or item...we love going to thrift stores, rummage sales and junk shops...this is where you find well-loved items with years of character.

Resources of Note:


  • The dining room table: Inherited
  • Wire chairs on the porch: Inherited
  • Redwood Bathroom sinks and counters: Hand crafted and installed
  • Basket Table in living room: Botanik

Most of the throw pillows, tapestries and all of the woven baskets filled with toys around the house: Botanik


  • We had our bed custom made from a design I created by a local green carpenter in Carpinteria: Greener Cabinetry
  • Ohle's Danish Modern bed was a gift from a client


  • Old round wooden light by the dining room table: Botanik
  • The spaghetti light in the living room and the green lamp in the bedroom: Whimsy Antiques (one of my fave stores in Carpinteria)



  • Over the bed, & green square in the living room: Nancy Neil
  • Yellow wood block print: Zacarias Paul
  • Woven piece: Calico Brown local artist
  • All wooden scrap Art over the Toilet: Ethan (my hubby)
  • Owl: Found thrift store
  • Stone art piece: Julia Brown local artist
  • Giraffe Plate: Rebekah Miles

Thanks Nancy & Ethan!

Images: Nancy Neil

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