Before & After: This Once Dated, Wood-Clad Home now Channels Cozy Fairytale Cabin Vibes

The hillside home puts a contemporary twist on the cottage-core style

A rustic galley kitchen with marble countertops, wooden flooring, and sage green cabinetry
(Image credit: Photography: Nils Timm / Design: Gibson House)

If you love the idea of a Californian cabin straight out of a storybook, then this is the dream home for you. Originally built in the 1950s, this split-level hillside home features two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and the newly renovated fairytale-like interior is one of the most charming and captivating we've ever seen.

Prior to the renovation, the cavernous interior was overwhelmed by dark wood, thick old carpets, and shutters on every window. Since then, the entire home has been remodeled by LA-based designer Naomi Gibson of Gibson House except the original tall ceilings with exposed wood beams, a feature Naomi was keen to preserve to retain some of the original character. The result is a small countryside home that channels cozy chalet energy, featuring lots of marble, warm woods, and vintage flair for an eclectic and curated look that still feels cool and contemporary. 

‘The entire house was really outdated but it had such beautiful bones with some clever changes, like moving the doors in both bathrooms and raising the ceiling line in the kitchen,’ explains Naomi. One of the major challenges was trying to configure a thought-out layout despite floorplan limitations. Since the home is built into the hillside, trapezoid-shaped rooms made selecting furniture incredibly challenging, something Naomi overcame by incorporating a large rounded DeSede sectional, a cozy bench under the corner windows in the office, and walls of mirrors to make the rooms feel wider. 

The home now feels refreshed and modern with luxurious and unexpected touches around every corner. Here, we take a closer look at this rustic modern home to find out how Naomi and her team worked their magic. 

Front Porch

A front porch with brick steps

The front porch before the renovation

(Image credit: Gibson House)

Before the Gibson House team worked their magic, the front porch, while charming, looked unkempt. Lacking curb appeal, Naomi and her team knew that the property's exterior was in need of a spruce-up, so they decided to remodel the porch, retile the roof, and repaint the walls. 

A front porch with brick steps

The front porch after the renovation

(Image credit: Photography: Nils Timm / Design: Gibson House)

‘The house was a sad shade of green, so we painted the exterior Sherman-Williams' Alabaster White and it made the charming shingles and contrast brick really sing,' says Naomi. 'We gave the landscaping a refresh with fragrant jasmine, sage, and lavender, and added a tiered vintage horse fountain. To my surprise, the fountain has become a watering hole for dozens of little birds, as though it’s always been there.’


A dated kitchen with wood panelled walls, white countertops, and wooden window shutters

The kitchen before the renovation

(Image credit: Gibson House)

The dark, wood-clad kitchen felt drab and dated, with aging floor tiles and retro appliances. While the heavy wood and brick interior had a rustic charm that Naomi wanted to retain, she knew the space needed a contemporary redesign. 

A rustic galley kitchen with marble countertops, wooden flooring, and sage green cabinetry

The kitchen after the renovation

(Image credit: Photography: Nils Timm / Design: Gibson House)

With a vintage-inspired aesthetic, the charming space now feels super cozy. Sage green cabinetry, dark veined marble countertops, and brass hardware make for a rustic kitchen feel that's classic and timeless. 

Naomi emphasizes the importance of maintaining a good balance of materials and having a light hand in the design of a vintage-inspired space. 'For example, I added a beadboard backsplash in small amounts, a peg rail at the transition from the wood paneling, and an oversized pot rail from Devol,' she says. 'To keep it modern, I used sleek brass sconces, tiny almond cabinet knobs, and stainless steel appliances.'

Pairing dark wood with delicate marbles makes a real statement with a contrastive feel, something Naomi claims makes the space feel more inviting and 'livable', 'like you won’t mess it up if you also bring in shoes and toys and books and real-life mess,' she says. 'The calming effect of natural materials but the movement of stone and wood just feels so good together!'

Living Room

A dated living area with a brick fireplace, two patterned armchairs, and wood panelled walls

The living room before the renovation

(Image credit: Gibson House)

The living room featured a huge brick fireplace that offered the perfect spot to unwind, but the interiors detracted from the impressive brick work. With an overwhelming amount of red-brown in the room and heavy thick carpet, the space felt dated and dark. 

A living area with a modern fireplace with a marble fire surround, a neutral rug, and two accent chairs

The living room after the renovation

(Image credit: Photography: Nils Timm / Design: Gibson House)

Now, though, Naomi has done away with the overbearing wood-clad walls. 'The house was too small to keep all of them, it needed a lighter resting point for the eye to really appreciate the wood in contrast,' she says. 'Instead of demolishing them, I painted them with limewash so I could keep the vertical line details and subtle texture.' 

The fireplace also became a mainstay, modernized with a marble surround that gives it a more expensive feel and a dramatic look. 'I loved the curve of the fireplace and its floor-to-ceiling presence - but it was originally all brick which felt so heavy and dark,' notes Naomi. 'We first skim-coated it in concrete and then applied Meoded Marmorino plaster to give it a slightly shiny finish. I worked closely with my marble fabricator to frame out the hearth and facet the stone around the fire to bounce the light of the flames out into the room.' 

Dining Area

A wood cabin style home with a small dining table and a vaulted ceiling

The dining area before the renovation

(Image credit: Gibson House)

The cabin-style dining room felt warm and inviting, but once again, the overwhelming wood tones aged the space. Naomi and her team knew they still wanted a super warm and inviting space despite a more modern aesthetic, so they went heavy on the layered textures, including wood, leather, mirrors, wool rugs, jute, and linen. 

A rustic dining room with wooden chairs, a linen dining cloth on the table, and candle sticks on the table

The dining area after the renovation

(Image credit: Photography: Nils Timm / Design: Gibson House)

The new dining room now feels like something out of a fairy tale with rustic chairs, linen curtains, and statement candle stick holders. 'The brutalist bench was imported from Belgium via Chairish,' says Naomi. 'The vintage Danish chairs are from Amsterdam Modern while the lion clawfoot table is from a thrift store. And the teak Brutalist light fixture is from The Netherlands via Etsy.' 

The overall feel channels cozy cabin vibes, with a touch of cottagecore thrown in for good measure. ‘We’ve been calling it a little canyon chalet,' Naomi explains. 'It has the feels of a house you would find in Laurel Canyon mixed with a cabin in Big Bear. I love to mix design styles to create a “collected and traveled” feeling in the home.'

Master Bedroom

A dated bedroom with white walls and wooden ceiling beams

The master bedroom before the renovation

(Image credit: Gibson House)

The master bedroom felt lackluster and lacked any personality, something Naomi altered completely by removing the carpet, painting the walls, and reconfiguring the floorplan to make the most of the beautiful balcony. 

A bedroom with wooden beams, wooden flooring, and a balcony

The master bedroom after the renovation

(Image credit: Photography: Nils Timm / Design: Gibson House)

With its limewash walls, dark wooden beams, and linen textiles, the space now feels far calmer. 'The clean wood floors instead of carpet really lighten up the space,' adds Naomi. 'I also stripped and stained the painted wood beams in the bedrooms, and added custom dramatic wall sconces to bring in lots of soft light. Removing the old wet bar, adding a large round picture window, and moving the bed placement opened everything up.' 


A bathroom painted in sage green with a coffered ceiling, a sink, and two small windows

The bathroom before the renovation

(Image credit: Gibson House)

Lastly, the previous bathroom was painted a calming sage green with a coffered ceiling and cute symmetrical windows. It failed to maximize the space, however, and the Jack and Jill layout made it even harder to make use of the space.

A bathroom with checkerboard tile flooring, a large bath, and double pedastal sinks

The bathroom after the renovation

(Image credit: Photography: Nils Timm / Design: Gibson House)

Instead, Naomi closed off one side of the room and added double pedestal sinks for a more practical bathroom that offers double the utility. 'When designing this bathroom I was really inspired by old-world bathrooms that feel like the white porcelain fixtures are “plopped” down in the room,' she notes. 'It makes the space feel bigger and calmer, and allows me room to add a large vintage wood cabinet.'

We can't get enough of the rustic charm throughout this hillside home. If you're designing a small space, let this transformation act as evidence that leaning into a cozy vibe really can work in your favor if you want the most inviting feel possible. 

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Lilith Hudson
News Editor

Lilith Hudson is the News Editor at Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.