Renovation of Our Mid Century Ranch House: First Time Home Buyers

Follow our Riviera Libre blog as we embark on an exciting adventure renovating the mid century ranch house we bought in Northern California. We are embracing new beginnings as first-time home buyers– late in life, is better late than never!

We are so happy to share our inspirations, design decisions, and the before and after pictures of the transformations of our first-ever owned home! Wow, we did it!! 

1940s Ranch House Renovation Northern California Meets Palm Springs Style
Our 1940s ranch house, prior to the seller making some exterior changes. 

We were super excited about the potential for this tiny house with an ADU and its big land footprint.

Front Yard of our house when it was on the market. 
Mid Century Ranch House Renovation First Time Home BuyersRanch House Backyard Landscape Renovation Before Picture
Backyard of our house when it was on the market. 

We have to give props to our seller’s realtor and the home stager hired to make improvements for the sale. It was a huge advantage that certain exterior cosmetic changes were made that we could evolve from. That said, there's a lot to do to make it ours! Come along for the ride!

Our First Ever Home Renovation Blog. We got the keys! Celebrate with Champagne

So how do we breathe new life into this tiny 1940’s home? 

Our geography puts us in one of the most sunny areas of town where the fog layer doesn’t intrude. When “Karl the Fog” makes his appearance, he sits on the mountain – Mount Tam – which we can see in the distance.

We are super fortunate that we get clear skies and late light at our house. This is a driving force in our aesthetic vision board headline, which always comes back to, “feels like summer” and this concept will guide our design decisions.

Feels Like Summer is the aesthetic headline for our home renovation blending Palm Spring aesthetics with Northern California vibes

Inspired by Palm Springs' desert aesthetics, we envision a blend of the arid simplicity synonymous with this SoCal region, combined with the laid-back tranquility inherent to Northern California. We will also be mixing in a high dose of color in the art collection and home goods we own. 

Inspiration Board Palm Springs Design Aesthetic Blended with Laidback Tranquil Vibes of Northern California Palm Springs Aesthetic Orange Door Wide Pavers Decomposed Granite hardscaping and Cactus

Did you know that Palm Springs “desert modernism” was a design aesthetic created by a notable group of architects and developers from the 20’s but especially the 1940’s-1970’s? Names like Richard Neutra, Albert Frey, Bill Cody, E. Stewart Williams, William Krisel, and Donald Wexler. 

Their idea was to merge mid-century modern with indoor-outdoor desert living with all the "style, allure and casual sophistication of what is still a real modernist’s oasis." The aesthetic of simple elegance and informality grew out of the architects and designer’s adaptive use of inventive materials, modern construction techniques, and post-war technologies. 

William Krisel Architect Palm Springs Original Eames Rocking Chair
William Krisel Architect, Twin Palms Home

And Northern California? We have a combination of sun-kissed beaches, bays and lagoons combined with majestic redwood forests, not to mention our own views of Mt Tam. Each destination has its unique charm, diverse eco systems and breath-taking views.

 Mt Tam in Marin County. Picture by Andrew M of All Trails 
Mount Tam

We also get super inspired by exterior and landscaping images of boutique hotels across Mexico, Australia, Greece, Italy and Spain, to name a few. So you'll find our references extend to these destinations as well.

Inspiration from Hotel Masseria Moroseta
Masseria Moroseta, Italy

Vanilla Palm Abode Australia
Vanilla Palm Abode, Australia

So we're gathering resources and Pinterest mood boards and ready to tackle our home renovation, project by project. Our DIY budget makes our resourcefulness and creativity a priority and we feel confident that we can make design updates on our own that will be visually and emotionally fulfilling. Looking forward to creating joy, happiness and a place to call home. 

We've named our house Riviera Libre. After Jeffrey's mom who named their Cape Town House The Riviera. And as an ode to the freedom of a bohemia coastal living space where all are welcome and comfort is key.

I'll end on this memory. My mom had a plaque in our kitchen that I read every day growing up. And it goes like this: A house is made of bricks and stone. But a home is made of love alone. 

Tada! We know both of our parents would be super proud to see what we're creating. Here we go...

~ Bonnie & Jeffrey

Proprietors of Poet and/the Bench, the mixed use gallery and retail shop in Mill Valley, CA and online featuring small batch, emerging and independent designers and artists across jewelry, art and home goods. Every object tells a story. 

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook. | 415.569.4383 | 11 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941