Is there anything more quintessentially fall than a cozy cabin tucked into the woods? We don’t think so. This is why we haven’t been able to take our eyes off Courtney Equall’s home in central Oregon. Its style is best described as midcentury meets cabincore. Wood-paneled ceilings, a gallery wall of moody landscape art, and an amazing wall of windows are just the beginning of this gorgeous home tour.
Looking at Courtney’s Instagram feed and blog, Girl & Grey, it’s hard to believe this home wasn’t always as beautiful as it is now. But thanks to some seriously impressive DIY skills, Courtney and her husband turned a total fixer-upper into the cozy home we all dream about, especially this season when the fall foliage peeks through those huge windows.
Of course, we had to ask her every last detail about how she turned what she called “the ugliest house on the street” into a home that has been featured in countless publications. Be prepared to get lost in this dreamy home tour.
Courtney Equall’s Cozy Oregon Home Tour
Name: Courtney Equall
Location: Bend, Oregon
Square Footage: 1,489
You purchased your home as a fixer-upper. What drew you to this property, and what was your vision for the house?
We already lived in the area—just a couple of streets away, actually. This house was on my daily route that I take our boxer, Rudy, on for his afternoon walk. I would walk down this street and admire the houses, and I could see that all these homes sit on the banks of the Deschutes River—a total dream location! One day, I noticed a for sale sign in front of the ugliest house on the street. I called my husband while I stood out front and told him about the house, and we decided to go have a look. We saw the house the same afternoon, and it was love at first sight for both of us.
The house was going to be a big project, but the location and the property made all the work worth it! We still can’t believe how lucky we are to own such a beautiful piece of property here in central Oregon.
Did you have DIY experience before fixing up this home?
This was our third fixer-upper, but our first two homes were mostly what I would consider cosmetic fixers. Think easy updates like fresh paint, new tile backsplashes, and swapping out light fixtures. This home was different because it required completely starting from scratch in the kitchen and bathrooms—a total gut!
We just learn everything as we go, whether it’s from YouTube tutorials, online research, and my dad (who does have a construction background and taught us so much). My husband works in finance, and I went to school to be a teacher, so we don’t really have backgrounds or experience with construction. I always tell people: If we can do it, you can, too! The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll mess it up and have to do it again. We’ve had to redo many projects that didn’t feel right or didn’t turn out the way we had hoped. But it’s all part of the DIY process. We’ve made lots of mistakes along the way, but we are always learning and improving, too. It’s so rewarding to finish a project and be able to say, “We did that!”
After you moved in, what projects did you tackle first?
Our to-do list was long! But there were some things that needed our attention right away. There was wall-to-wall carpet throughout the entire home (from 1984!) that needed to be removed before we could move in. After my husband and I signed on the house and got the keys, we went straight over and started to tear out the carpet. It was crazy!
A few weeks later, I started the One Room Challenge with Better Homes & Gardens, a twice-annual design challenge where you have six weeks to completely transform a space. I had committed to participating in the challenge long before we even knew we would be moving, so I decided to tackle the kitchen in the new house. It was probably the craziest six weeks of my life, but we finished the kitchen, and I am so happy with how it came out.
After the challenge was finished, we decided to slow down and take on remodels as time and budget allowed. We’ve been tackling one room at a time since then. It’s been a lot of fun, and we’ve learned so much, too!
What is your favorite DIY project in your home so far?
Our kitchen remodel would have to be my favorite! It was tough, and we were on a tight timeline, but I am proud of all of our hard work. I often think about all the fun memories we made while we worked on it for those six crazy weeks. Second place would go to a more recent project, where my dad, my husband Nate, and I laid new brick pavers on our front porch. It looks like it should have always been there and adds so much curb appeal!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to change the feeling of their space but only has the time or budget for a few changes?
Paint is my number one go-to! It’s relatively inexpensive and makes a massive impact. Fresh paint on the walls or painting your kitchen cabinets can completely transform a space. Add some new hardware (lots of inexpensive options there, even on Amazon) for an added bonus. Small changes like these don’t cost a lot but pack a big punch. Don’t like your floors? Cover them up with a rug that you love! I’ve even put area rugs over wall-to-wall carpet until we saved up for new flooring.
How would you describe your design style? How has it evolved over the years?
Oh yes, it’s always changing, but I make an effort to stay true to the things I love. Like warm woods, pops of color, and a layered and casual vibe. I pay attention to trends, but I try to not lean too heavily into them. I want our home to feel like us—not just a trend that will almost certainly change and go out of style.
Your home is nestled in a beautiful wooded area along a river. How did you weave in nature throughout the design?
Thank you! We feel so lucky to have found a home in such a lovely setting. I love to incorporate lots of plants and natural elements throughout our home. We replaced the old carpet with light hickory wood, swapped out our old metal back door for a wood one, and changed the brass chandelier above our dining table to a woven rattan one. All of these elements combined help to give our home a kind of organic, collected vibe that I am always drawn to.
We’re drooling over the wall of windows in your living room. What was your thought process when designing around this stunning feature?
Thank you! They really are the focal point of the entire home. When we moved in, the windows were covered with old pink vinyl blinds, which were kept down most of the time. We tore them out on our first day in the house and decided that, with all this natural light and sunshine to enjoy, we shouldn’t cover these windows up! When it was time to furnish the space, my sole goal was to not impede the view—nothing that was visually too heavy in front of the windows.
You’ve added a lot of modern elements to your home, but it still has a cozy cabin vibe. How do you intentionally maintain that balance?
That’s exactly the vibe I’m always striving for! I want to allow the house to be what it is: a rustic chalet-style home that sits out in the woods. The juxtaposition of more rustic elements, like our vaulted pine-clad ceilings, with modern decor, like our Malm fireplace, is my favorite design combo! They just complement one another so nicely, in my humble opinion.
Working with such an open layout (including an open-concept kitchen and living space and a lofted area that serves as the primary bedroom), how did you define the various spaces?
I was really worried about this when we bought this home, but it turned out to be a non-issue for us. The open floor plan downstairs is great for family time and allows us to cook in the kitchen, sit at the dining room table, or lounge in the living room, and we’re all still together in the same space. My kids are growing so fast, and I am soaking up all the time we spend together! The bedroom upstairs in the loft makes for a dreamy bedroom, and I love waking up first thing in the morning and looking out the windows at the river and the trees. It makes me feel like I sleep in a tree house!
You use a lot of artwork, baskets, and other decorative items to add warmth and texture to each room. Where do you source these accessories? What is your best advice for creating a layered, personalized look without contributing to clutter?
I love to hunt down art and accessories at thrift stores and vintage shops. An old painting adds so much character to a space. I have also been known to frame a sentimental card that I love or a piece of the kids’ artwork from school. Art doesn’t need to be expensive to be beautiful! And it makes your art feel unique and personal to you and your fam.
I also use baskets throughout our home because they’re cute, they add loads of texture, and they’re so functional! Think shoe storage for the kids, extra throw blankets in the living room, or even a cute spot for hand towels in the kitchen. This helps so much when you live in a small-ish space to avoid feeling like you’re losing the battle with clutter.
We can’t help but notice the unique light fixtures all throughout your home—from the bathroom to the kitchen to the bedroom sconces. How do you factor lighting into the design, and where do you shop for fixtures that suit your style?
I love a statement light fixture! Lighting is so important and sets the mood for an entire space. This is one aspect of design where I like to go bold and big. One of the first things our guests always comment on when they visit is the light fixtures. Some of my favorite lighting sources are Blueprint Lighting, Serena and Lily, and even IKEA.
We spotted a small wooden figurine (Is it a horse? A unicorn?) on the shelf in your bathroom. What’s the story there?
Good eye! My Swedish grandmother always had a Swedish horse somewhere in her home, and I remember searching for it when we would visit her when I was a kid, almost like a game. Sometimes, it would be on the mantle above the fireplace in the living room, and sometimes it would be hiding on a shelf in the kitchen. Years later, after my siblings and I were all grown, my mom gifted us (my sister and three brothers) each our own Swedish horse, so we all have one in our homes. It’s still kind of fun to see if you can find it around the house when we visit one another!
What is your favorite way to refresh a room for a new season, specifically for fall?
Foliage and layers! Adding a few fall-inspired stems to a vase or swapping out some pillows are both simple (and inexpensive) ways to add some coziness to your home for fall. We also added a few pumpkins to the front porch this year!
On a crisp, cool fall day, where could we most likely find you, and what would you be doing?
Outside for sure! Our neighborhood has loads of winding trails along the banks of the river. Fall is the best time to explore them because they are quiet after the busy tourist months during the summer, and you’ll often be able to explore them without ever passing another person. It’s wonderful!
What project can we expect to see you take on next?
Nate and I are going to demo our old deck in the backyard. The plan is to completely replace it and add a DIY fireplace, too. I’d love to be able to enjoy our backyard even in the winter months. And a cozy fireplace will (hopefully) allow us to do just that!