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  • Date published: 03.05.24
  • Category: Home Tours
  • Author: Erin Elizabeth

The Makers

A 1950s Ranch-Style Home Turned Slow Living Sanctuary by Karen Emile

Nestled Los Angeles’ Woodland Hills, the content creator’s vintage-filled space is where idyllic family life unfolds.

Editor's Note

If you ask me about my favourite corner of the internet, it might just be Karen Emile’s home. This gorgeous space (which she shares over at @milkandhoneylife) is all unhurried moments and farmhouse charm, complete with one heavenly outdoor tub. In short, it’s exactly where I’d love to retreat to at the end of the day.

In this instalment of The Makers, Karen invites us inside her “little corner of the world”, woven together with thrifted finds and DIY projects that tell the story of her family. At the foothills of the Santa Monica mountains, she’s created something truly special.

We hope you love it as much as we do,

Genevieve Rosen-Biller, Co-Founder, Bed Threads.

F ive years ago, Karen Emile found her “corner.” That’s what she calls the 1950s ranch-style home at the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains that she shares with her husband and three children. “It’s just a little speck, a little corner of the world and that’s how I always look at it. I feel so honoured and humbled that people have seen it and are inspired by our home,” Karen says.

It's easy to see why so many draw inspiration from the space that Karen has so consciously curated. It’s part French farmhouse, part Scandinavian chic, but mostly an expression of her family. “I feel like you can sense the love in my home because of the things my husband has built and all the art that is by my son. There’s an artistic creativity in our home, and I love the fact that a lot of it is handmade and collected from within our little family,” she says.

When Karen first met her husband, Shawn, she warned him that “with a girl like me, you’re gonna have to be handy because my mind is constantly going.” Proving more than up for the challenge, Shawn has hand-built most of the family’s furniture, from the salvaged wood bed frames to the large pine kitchen island that houses Karen’s stunning collection of vintage European dishware. “A lot of the bigger stuff my husband started building for us at our last house. When we started having children, it felt like the space just kept shrinking on us and I couldn’t find pieces to fit those particular spaces, so we made our own.”

Drawn to the “solid bones” of the space she now calls home – including the original diamond wood windows and stone fireplace – the house also possessed a few dark and dated features that may have deterred other would-be buyers. But not Karen: “As soon as I opened up some of the curtains and blinds, I could see there was a lot of light that could come through with where the house was facing.” Applying her interior vision and knack for collecting reclaimed objects and furniture, she created a soulful space that serves the needs of a modern family.

One such example is the family meals Karen cooks up in her farmhouse-inspired kitchen, many of which she shares on Instagram. To follow @milkandhoneylife is to salivate over home-cooked soups, fresh-baked apple pies or olive oil cakes adorned with foraged flowers plucked straight from her garden. “I’m a big baker. I was out of my house very early on and learnt to cook very quickly. My mum was a terrific cook, and although we didn’t have much, she definitely taught me the staples.”

It’s no surprise that it’s in this kitchen that Karen and her family spend the most time. “We’re always there, that’s our space. It’s one of the spaces I’m most proud of because of how we made it function so well. It really is inviting and makes me want to be there,” Karen says. Adorned with copper cookware and a show-stopping curved stone rangehood, it’s the perfect backdrop for both impromptu gatherings and her collection of earthenware and ceramics.

When you’re putting your spaces together, just do what speaks to you. You can’t go wrong with that.

- Karen Emile

In the dining area – originally separated from the kitchen by a dividing wall which Karen and her husband knocked down as soon as they moved in – a character-filled dining setting alludes to a storied history, with each of its eight mismatched wooden chairs. “I don’t like everything to match, and I like everything to be something special and tell a story. I love so many styles, so I said, ‘You know what, I don’t need to match my chairs, I’ll put whatever chair I want!’ And that’s exactly what I did. Why do I have to have rules?”

This rebellion against convention extends to her shopping habits, too, sourcing her vintage furniture and homewares from just about everywhere. “I will go anywhere. It can be off the street, from a thrift store, from a high-end boutique, or from the flea market. I have a very specific eye and I’ll just zoom into it,” Karen says.

Karen’s “specific eye” has a flair for the details, too. In the bedroom, tree branches replace traditional curtain rods, and mismatched lamps and bedsides add depth and texture to the space. “I definitely love creating calming spaces in the bedroom, with minimalist bedding and lighter creamier colours, like my Bed Threads Oatmeal linens. And you can get creative with your bedframe – it doesn’t all have to be matchy. When you’re putting your spaces together, just do what speaks to you. You can’t go wrong with that.”

As a collector who heroes homemade over consumer trends and extolls the beauty in well-worn furniture and homewares, sustainability is at the core of both Karen’s chosen aesthetic and slow-living lifestyle. “When we moved here, most of the pieces that I had in my last home came into this home. Some of the pieces are 20 years old, they’ve literally travelled with me everywhere,” she says.

“I feel like that’s why I’m drawn to repurposing and having these natural elements, because I feel like it’s something that always stays in style to me, that natural element. I feel like when everything else dies out, that will still live on.”

Credits

Photography by Jenna Peffley

Styling by Danielle Armstrong

Video by Cheer Squad

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