In the house

How Married Candle-Makers Set Up Their Cozy California Home

It makes sense that Erika and Pete Panciera would have a stunning California house—he’s an art director, she’s got an eye for interiors, and their entire business is dedicated to helping other people capture cozy home vibes. As the founders of Norden, the pair produce candles, incense, and room sprays that capture the aura of their favorite road-trip destinations like Ojai and Joshua Tree. As luck would have it, though, they didn’t have to do anything major to bring the good feels to their ranch in the hippie town of Encinitas, California. After bouts in New York, San Diego, and Connecticut, the pair landed there when a close family friend offered to rent out his childhood home. “Even the cow skull that’s hanging above the fireplace was already here. We knew it was the perfect place for us,” says Pete of the seventies-era dwelling. Let him show you how the duo (new parents to baby Oscar!) infused it with their own minimalist, plant-forward flair.

“Every item that’s in our house, even if it’s a knick-knack on a shelf, has a purpose. We’re both bringing our tastes to the table. Erica’s a major editor. When we got married, I owned 26 different side chairs. Now, we like to keep the walls and shelves sparse, especially in the wood-paneled rooms. The small decorations are all things we really love, either from friends or our own road trips.”

“I’m a graphic designer, and the flat file cabinet is like my little archive. It was from an architecture firm that was closing, and they had all custom cabinets remade out of birch plywood. The photo hanging above is a photo I shot outside of the factory that makes most of our pottery for Norden. My wife found the rattan curved sofa behind the flat file; that’s her favorite piece of furniture.”

“Some of my favorite pieces of furniture are the two end chairs at our dining table. Those are vintage Eames molded plywood chairs. The black chairs are sixties vintage from Sweden, and the lights above the table I built eight or nine years ago. The designer Lindsey Adleman released plans to make them, and I bought all the parts and spent six hours on it. The brass has this crazy patina on it, so it just keeps looking cooler.”

“I collect a lot of different liqueurs, and we entertain quite a lot. Now that we have a baby, it’s nice to have people come to us. It’s California, so we spend lots of time outside. We have a pretty big back deck where we have an outdoor sofa and some places to be outside and enjoy the weather. Our house looks out over a little canyon, and you can see the ocean all across the back of the house.”

“Okay, my secret is going to be shared with the whole world: The living room rug is from Moroccan company called Anou. They’re focused on fair-trade rugs made by women and artisan collectives of weavers. As for the lounge chair, I wanted to get a real Eames but settled for this vintage knockoff from the seventies. But it does the job and is pretty comfy. Our house is a mix of high and low. We’re not afraid to get things from mainstream retailers and mix them with really fancy pieces.”

“Before this was Oscar’s room, it was the first dedicated Norden office. It’s the only room in the house Erika and I made a full mood board for, how an interior designer would. It was a really fun project and a good bonding experience. There are limited options for rocking chairs for mothers, but this one from CB2 is a popular one in the mom set. It’s a comfortable, wide, and plush chair to sit in that doesn’t look terrible. The room’s art came out of my flat file archive. There’s a print in there from my favorite artist Geoff McFetridge and another from Kevin Lyons. Picking art that’s whimsical enough for a kid but that we still enjoy was really fun for me.”

“Our bedroom is a weird shape, so positioning things was a bit of a challenge. It’s got two different ceiling heights, and the whole left side is all closet. We wanted it to be calming, so we keep the walls pretty clean and the furniture to the walls. Our mattress is from Helix Sleep and is probably one of the best purchases I’ve made as an adult. The other little section has our vintage walnut dresser and a ladder with a hanging blanket that we rotate.”

“We’re minimal with our plants in the house; they’re placed strategically. On the back deck, a lot of the plants are from Norden photoshoots, and it’s a project to keep them alive. In the front, we have an orange tree and a macadamia nut tree, and in the backyard, we have a peach tree, an apple tree, and a lemon tree. If you’re nearby, come over and take as many oranges possible—the tree has hundreds and hundreds of pounds of oranges.”

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