Rachel's Mid Century Rancho Hideaway

Rachel's Mid Century Rancho Hideaway

Bethany Nauert
Nov 7, 2011

Name: Rachel Thurston, her husband Grant and their baby Nova
Location: Rancho — Long Beach, California
Size: 1,300 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year — Rent

Rachel and her husband live in an original atomic ranch home designed in the 60's by architect Cliff May. To bring out the true essence of this home they chose simple Mid Century Modern aesthetics and rich colors.

Many thanks to Julie Maigret for introducing me to Rachel. Rachel had previously photographed Maigret's home earlier this year. Their love of Mid Century Modern design and clean uncluttered perspective was very similar in each of their homes.

In a house that already holds so much architectural nostalgia, Rachel admits that it's the memories and her family that are the most significant part of their home. Althbough they have dedicated a great deal of time to decorate and style their place, "If there was a fire I would grab people, hard drives, photo albums and maybe our bronze star from the OK Store...in that order. Everything else is replaceable."

As a photographer, I am sure that Rachel sees a handful of different places and people's homes, herself. Rachel believes it's essential to design a home that reflects who you are and who you want to be. "It should be space you can live in and feel comfortable in. Lots of light is a must as well as great outside space. It should be somewhere you are always happy to come home to."

In a city with so many different ideas about architecture and so many generations of design, it's easy to draw inspiration. "Of course LA has amazing mid-century design and it has only made me love that aesthetic more. The style of home where we live just doesn't exist in very many places. It was designed by the architect Cliff May and is one of 700 similar atomic rancho homes in the area. Also, with all the great weather in southern California it really does make you want to use and appreciate the outdoors. Someday I dream of fruit trees and a beautiful garden with a house somewhere in the middle."

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Love mid-century modern mixed with flea market finds and sentimental pieces.

Inspiration: Danish and Swedish home design as well as indoor/outdoor living...which is one of the reason we loved this house so much. There is a door leading outside from every wall of the house!

Favorite Element: The floor to ceiling windows.

Biggest Challenge: The noise — with cement floors and slatted doors there is very little noise privacy. With a newborn who is a light sleeper this has been difficult. We had no choice but to adopt a white noise machine so she could nap and we could breath without waking her.

What Friends Say: No one wants to leave. Our yard is completely fenced in (which makes getting to know your neighbors more difficult) but the privacy really creates an oasis. The minute you walk through our front gate and past the blue pool and huge fig tree, you have no choice but to unwind. It is also a great house for dinner parties with that huge Caesarstone counter in the kitchen. We have had friends over for a few tapas parties were we all cook together and eat as we go.

Biggest Embarrassment: Our giant TV in the family room.

Proudest DIY: I bought a $5 ugly brown side table at a garage sale years ago and when we moved into this house we spray painted it a glossy red for our bedroom. It wasn't very much work but I love the pop of color and how it completely transformed that table...color does that.

Biggest Indulgence: Probably the blue Danish chair in our family room. We bought it from Mid-Century LA and had it reupholstered and refinished. We were looking for a rocker alternative before our babe was born and this chair is a rocker and stationary chair in one. I never thought I would spend that much on one chair.

Best Advice: I was told by the amazing LA interior designer Julie Maigret that her #1 bit of advice for decorating your home was to "only buy pieces you absolutely love". If you do that, then it will always look good in your space and always reflect a bit of who you are. She also said when you are first starting you don't need to buy everything for the space right away. Take your time and only buy what you love — eventually you fill your home with all the right stuff. This really took the pressure off. Our house isn't perfect or anywhere close to being filled with all our favorite stuff but we love what we have brought into it so far.

Resources of Note:


    • ? Not sure. Already painted when we moved in.


    • Bronze star from the OK Store in LA
    • Lamp base was from a grandmother


    • Couch: Room and Board
    • Chair: Mid-Century LA
    • Red step stool: Elemente, SLC
    • Shag rug: Overstock


    • Table: Elemente, SLC
    • Fiberglass dining chairs: Modernica


    • Desk Chair: Zody Hayworth
    • Orange Chair: Knoll, from the Green Ant in SLC
    • McDowell & Craig Classic Tanker Desk With Return: Global Refurbishing


    • Side board: Mid-Century LA
    • Artwork: Jared Purrington


    • Side board: Pasadena Rose Bowl flea market
    • crib: Oeuf, Sparrow Crib
    • Rocking chair: Pasadena Rose Bowl flea market
    • Rug: Costco
    • giraffe photo: Sharon Montrose
    • wallpaper: By artist, Geoff Mcfetridge


    • West Elm
    • Crate and Barrel

Thanks, Rachel!

Images: Rachel Thurston

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