Plan A was Portugal. In search of warmer weather and less house to care for, longtime Northern Californian and interiors photographer Thayer Allyson Gowdy got as far as putting a deposit down on a small farmhouse in Olhão after listing her 5,000-square-foot property in Bolinas.
But in the fall of 2019, she decided to pull the plug in order to save some money, so she moved 400 miles south to Ojai—with her Yorkie-dachshund mix, Wilder, and rescue pup, Scout, in tow. “I felt that I could create my own version of Portugal here,” says Gowdy.
Her only prerequisites during the house hunt was that the place needed to cost less than $500,000, be east- or west-facing (to avoid the harsh sunlight), and be in bad enough shape that she wouldn’t feel guilty taking it down to the studs. A horseshoe-shaped home situated in the rural enclave of Meiners Oaks checked all those boxes. “I had the chance to do the kind of renovation I always wanted to do but never could afford,” she says.
Introduce some Portuguese charm to a tiny, rural Ojai home—arches, terrazzo, and plaster included.
But Make It
Bringing her dreams of a European villa Stateside, photographer Thayer Gowdy reinvented a run-down ranch in Ojai, California with archways and terrazzo galore.
Photography by Thayer Gowdy
Introduction by Lydia Geisel
June 10, 2021