For one L.A.-based couple, coming across a midcentury modern A-frame cabin in Big Bear, California, was all it took to pull the trigger on a lake house for their young family—a short two-hour drive from their Silverlake home. The creative couple, who owns The Odells, a clothing store in Los Angeles, had always dreamed of owning a weekend retreat in the iconic architectural style—but the space was less than ideal for a family of four. Still, this didn't deter Laura and Jason Odell from turning this tiny space into a dream family home to share with their son, Shaun, 6, and their daughter, Layla, 3.
"It was a complete renovation and expansion project for us," explains Laura. "We love A-frames," adds Jason. "When we saw the house and its lakeside location, we knew we had to pounce on it. The house wasn't livable, not even for a night when we purchased it. It was super dark, with small windows and low ceilings. Let's just say I had a vision of a bright and airy open A-frame in my head." After extensive work, the creative couple was able to turn this tiny space into an airy three-bedroom, two-bath weekend retreat for the whole family to enjoy. Take the tour, and pick up a few family-friendly lake house decorating ideas for your own space.
Driven by the dream of owning an A-frame house, along with the space requirements that a young family needs, the Odells undertook an extensive renovation of the original space. "We literally removed everything except the existing A beams," explains Laura. "We added the 'wings' on both sides while extending the A closer to the lakeside and building the large decks made of wood on both sides of the house. We removed a low second story and had custom windows made. We had to hang a huge beam across the back to make sure the windows extended across the entire back of the house."
"We wanted to create a bohemian yet modern retreat that was both chic yet completely kid-friendly," says Laura. For Jason, it was all about adding in the cool factor for the kids: "At night we love to screen movies. There is a hidden movie screen that drops down from the last beam, and the surround sound has a hidden subwoofer under the couch that shakes the kids when the Death Star scene comes on [in Star Wars]!"
Once the renovation was complete, the couple began furnishing the space from scratch: "We wanted white floors and added color with art and furnishings," explains Laura. "Since it’s our second home, we had to start from scratch. We started with our rug and sofa and rolled everything out based on complementary colors."
The couple's greatest find: "The marble in the kitchen," says Laura. "Marble is hard to find. No two slabs are completely alike, and I absolutely fell in love with the patterns and colors of this veiny Calcutta marble. We had to install three large slabs of it since we wanted the waterfall, and Jason met with the contractor multiple times to make sure the veins lined up on the corners."
The marble might have been a splurge, but the couple was able to save a few dimes on the cabinets, by mixing in a little IKEA: "We went with Lews Brass pulls on IKEA walnut cabinets," says Laura. "Jason built the wall around the fridge to break up the cabinets."
In the bedrooms, the couple kept the walls and furniture neutral and layered in color through accessories: "We wanted a modern yet bohemian vibe so we decorated accordingly," explains Laura. "We were very much inspired by our travels and also love to mix prints, which is reflected overall in the furnishings and details throughout the house."
To keep in line with the house's midcentury architecture, the couple mixed in vintage pieces with more modern ones: "Every room in the house is pretty eclectic," says Laura. "We have lots of vintage pieces mixed with new ones. The whole house is very colorful but the pieces chosen definitely also have a modern vibe." By keeping the walls and larger furniture neutral, they were able to infuse a bohemian vibe that was still sleek and elegant.
Though Jason got tired of driving back and forth during construction, the result was entirely worth it: "Toward the end of the project, I was driving back and forth a couple times a week to deal with finishing touches. Luckily we had a mellow winter when we built it, so we had it ready in time for summer."
"We wanted a modern mountain home, with indoor and outdoor flow for the summer," adds Laura. "I love the large open living room and glass doors that open up to the lake. And Jason loves having his morning coffee on the deck overlooking the lake."
Next up: Tour an interior designer's light-filled midcentury Denver ranch.