Inside An Airy Victorian Farmhouse Retreat by Arterberry Cooke

If you’re looking for ways to enliven your home or give it a more airy feel, Alice Arterberry and Barrett Cooke of Arterberry Cooke Architecture‘s latest project is full of inspiration. The design firm transformed a Folk Victorian farmhouse into a sunny oasis that’s fit for entertaining. Built in 1915, the Pasadena, California, home features ingenious indoor and outdoor decor ideas — from a clutter-free kitchen prep area to a pool house that’s perfect for family gatherings and playtime with the kids. Steal the design ideas below.

Kitchen and Dining Areas

california home tour bring in the outdoors

Jill Weller

Bring in the Outdoors

Rather than settle for the choppy original floor plan, Alice Arterberry and Barrett Cooke upgraded this home’s hardest-working floor in collaboration with the homeowners, giving it an airy, open layout fit for entertaining. The designers combined the kitchen, dining area and living space and added bifold doors that open onto the pool deck.

Find a bright spot for the breakfast nook.

The kitchen’s main eating area, which features wood paneling, is nestled in an ultra-sunny corner and serves as the family’s command center for meals and arts-and-crafts sessions. For that reason, a custom quartz-composite tabletop (also featured in the kitchen) is a no-fail choice. “They wanted it to be indestructible so they could use the space for everything and not worry about damaging the table,” says Cooke.

california home tour kitchen clutter on perimeter

Jill Weller

Keep clutter on the perimeter.

When designing a kitchen, Cooke likes to “keep as much function on the perimeter as possible so the island can stay clean and be used as a prep area and gathering spot for the family.” The result is a layout that feels open and manages to prevent any untidy cooking areas from taking over the space.

Get the look: Patio Dining Chairs, $140,; Single Globe Pendant, $135,

Design Tip: The wood countertop makes the all-white kitchen feel “warm and homey,” says Cooke, and is the perfect option for an island without a built-in sink or range.


california home tour bedroom

Jill Weller

Go for a year-round beach vibe.

Your bedroom is meant to be a retreat, and that’s exactly what design firm Arterberry Cooke kept in mind during this transformation. Original wood paneling and walls decked out in Behr’s Mountain Falls make for a calming atmosphere.

Get the Look: Layne Velvet Curtain, from $88,; Seashell Accent Chandelier, $250,


california home tour bathroom shower

Jill Weller

Play with scale in the shower.

A long brass shower arm, along with gray-and-white marble tiles in multiple patterns, shapes and sizes, packs a punch in the primary bathroom. “We did pattern blocking, as opposed to color blocking, but both would be successful here,” says Cooke of the result, which includes hexagonal shower tiles from Soho Studio. A custom vanity, featuring a medium wood tone, complements the brass hardware and adds a touch of luxury to the design scheme. “A lot of the woodwork in the house was super dark, so we were looking for ways to bring woods back that didn’t feel oppressive,” Cooke adds.

california home tour bathroom

Jill Weller

Paint out wood paneling.

The bathroom’s white wood paneling mirrors the original walls in the primary bedroom and helps anchor the setup. “It was dark wood when they purchased the house, but we painted it white and kept it all lighter and brighter,” Cooke says. “We looked for elements that worked when the house was originally constructed and added to those as much as possible to maintain a cohesive feeling.”

Cleaning Tip: Don’t let small mildew spots on painted walls spoil your spa moment. Scrub gently with a brush dipped in sudsy water. Next, apply a mix of 3 Tbsp chlorine bleach to 1 qt water. Wait five minutes, scrub, rinse and air-dry.

GH Resident Cleaning Expert Carolyn Forté’s Bathroom Tips

  • Spotless Glass: Keeping glass shower doors and walls crystal clear can be a challenge, especially in hard-water areas. Drying them off after showering helps prevent residue from building up. And an oversize microfiber towel makes quick work of this daily task.
  • Stunning Stone: Natural stone, like marble, is a classic and durable bathroom choice, but many traditional bathroom cleaners contain acids that can etch these materials. Check the label and choose a shower cleaner, like Granite Gold, that’s effective yet safe for stone.
  • Power Shower: Today’s fixtures often sport high-end finishes that can be damaged by the vinegar soak often recommended to clear a clogged shower head. Instead, dip a brush in vinegar and go over the jets only. Rinse well and dry.
  • Teak Trick: Accessories like shower benches and mats will last longer and look better when cleaned with a sudsy mix of dish soap and water and occasionally protected with a teak oil or sealer.

    Get the Look: Bamboo Bath Caddy, $70,


    california home tour foyer

    Jill Weller

    Add more storage to the entry.

    Any busy family needs a simple area equipped to handle real life. Since the first floor lacked a traditional utility closet, a built-in cabinet was installed to keep everyday essentials like coats and gloves under wraps. And Arterberry Cooke didn’t stop there: The cabinet and walls are all painted in Benjamin Moore’s Gray Owl to pull the space together. “We wanted it to feel like it was already a part of the room and sort of fade away,” says Cooke.

    Outdoor Area

    california home tour patio

    Jill Weller

    Design the Perfect Patio

    Outdoor spaces need care too. Make sure yours is always guest-ready with these simple steps.

    • Stash Cushions: The best way to keep removable chair cushions and throw pillows clean is to shelter them from dirt and dampness after use and during the off-season. Invest in a waterproof deck box for easy access when you need them and easy storage when you don’t.
    • Spot-clean Furniture: Thoroughly cleaning chairs and tables at the start and end of your outdoor season is key, but regular touch-ups are what keep them ready for impromptu get-togethers. Store a stash of heavy-duty cleaning wipes, like Clorox Multi- Purpose Paper Towel Wipes, nearby to remove dirt and stains quickly without having to rinse.
    • Brighten Brick: Stone, brick and concrete walks and accents are prone to getting dirty and stained when exposed to the elements. Use a cleaner like Granite Gold Outdoor Stone Cleaner. Gentle and safe around plants, it comes in a size that attaches to your garden hose for extra pressure and reach.

      california home tour outdoor fireplace

      Jill Weller

      Build an Outdoor Fireplace

      “The connection to the outdoors is pretty perfect,” Cooke says of the inviting design scheme marked by a dramatic brick chimney and fireplace (the original one was removed in the 1980s). A striped rug ensures that the neutral seating set on top remains the focal point of the area.

      Pool “Play” House

      california home tour pool play house

      Jill Weller

      “They wanted an area that the kids could be less precious about, where they could make a bit of a mess,” Cooke says of the pool house, which is a converted ADU (accessory dwelling unit). Not only does it serve as a comfortable spot for the homeowners’ three children to gather with friends, play games and watch TV, but it also can be used as a work or exercise space.

      california home tour kitchen colored backsplash

      Jill Weller

      Install a colored backsplash.

      The sparkling tile backsplash from Wow’s Fez Collection in the pool house kitchen catches the light just right and prevents the space from feeling stark. A crisp white on the cabinets and the wall trim brings even more brightness into the room.

      california home tour bedroom living room pool play house

      Jill Weller

      Keep it bright with white.

      Instead of overwhelming the pool house with strong colors and patterns, white walls “keep as much light bouncing around as possible,” says Cooke, noting that she wanted it to have the same breezy feeling as the main house. The timeless neutral was layered with natural materials, like a rattan headboard and a jute living room rug, to enhance the coastal aesthetic. “Finally the house feels cohesive,” Cooke says.

      Get the Look: Rattan Headboard, $379,

      A version of this feature appeared in the June 2022 issue of Good Housekeeping.

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