When it comes to living spaces (and brave life choices), Summer Wick has a knack for embracing the unknown. To start, in 2020, the family of three packed everything up in their Subaru and moved to Mexico for a year to restore a beautiful Baja home. Not to mention countless picturesque road trips documented on Instagram account @wickfamilyadventures, all the while dreaming up Catskills Vintage & Co., a modest home brand devoted to beauty + simplicity.
We first crossed paths with Summer through Schoolhouse (she was one of our first project managers!), and we have been fans of her ever since. Lately, the Wick family has been hard at work in Upstate New York remodeling an old cabin into a cozy space that reflects their creative lifestyle. Inspired by Summer's enterprising spirit and design sensibility, we asked her to tell us all about her design journey + share a few favorite holiday traditions.
Tell us about Camp Aldous! How did you find it and what prompted this creative project?
I think Camp Aldous found us. You know that question: are you a mountain person or a beach person? Well, I am definitely a mountain person. Ever since I can remember, I have wanted a cabin in the woods. We actually had our eye on another cabin in the Adirondacks and were so excited. I had created vision boards, picked out paint colors, knew the furniture I wanted for the space – you know, all the things one does? Well, all didn't go as planned and we weren’t able to move forward with the contract (the real estate market can be brutal).
Eventually, we ended up going back to Zillow (if you know you know!) and found Camp Aldous on the app. As I swiped through the images, I began to feel that spark of joy again – that feeling of hope and excitement. Could this be our cabin?
“But in those times where it seems dreams are crushed, something else magical can come along.”
How did you know it was the home for you?
After we saw the listing, we went to view it two days later in three feet of snow (our realtor had to create a path for us to get to the door). When we stepped into the home we could see all of its potential. From the wood beams to the Vermont Castings wood stove, the crystal knobs on the doors, the peekaboo window out to the screen porch, etc. In this old beat up hunting cabin, we could see beyond its current condition and envision our very own Scandinavian Cottage.
Could you tell us a little bit about your background and what you’re up to currently?
Since leaving Portland, I have taken some life-changing paths. Our little family of three packed up and moved to Mexico for a year in 2020. Milly was able to go to school remotely and Brandon and I could work from anywhere. We thought, “when will we ever get the chance to do this again?” So we jumped in our Subaru and went off into the unknown.
I am currently relaunching my brand, Catskills Vintage & Co., a modest online home shop devoted to simplicity, form, and function. Moving from the West to the East has inspired me to rebrand and reimagine what my small business can look like. I hand pour small batch candles, make pottery, home accessories, and curate other items to round out my line. I focus on the modest, where utility and beauty intersect. I want to be accessible and provide affordable design elements for the home. Nothing says cozy like burning an earthy candle on a cold winter's night, and I mean, who doesn’t love a candle?
What are some key updates you made to the space?
When it comes to making immediate changes, who you gonna call? Paint brushes that's who! Paint has been our main tool for transformation. We were instantly able to revitalize walls, ceilings, floors, doors, the exterior, and even the wood stove!
“The power of paint can go a long way. When someone tells you that you can’t paint that, think again.”
The simplicity of creamy white, mushroom gray, and ash black are transformative. The cottage has reached a point where we want to spend time there (without constant projects!) and look forward to all the seasons of the Adirondacks. Next up, a new drilled well and hot water heater.
If you had to pick three themes for your interior aesthetic, what would they be and why?
Cozy: We want to feel like we can relax in our home. We don’t want it to be overly fussy, but approachable and liveable — like you can get a watermark on our dining room table or bring in your muddy boots after skiing (and that's okay).
Cottage: I wanted to call it a “cabin” so much, but it began to feel more and more like a Scandinavian cottage – and that’s fine, right? Brandon and I have always wanted to live in Scandinavia, so this might just be our consolation prize.
Timeless: I want our paint colors and furnishings to stand the test of time. The “things” we bring in should be heirloom quality and not fall apart. I’ve spent many hours sourcing vintage items for our home — things that are built to last.
Do you have any design or life philosophies you abide by?
This is a hard question, as I think we are always evolving and finding ourselves in new seasons of life. My style has become more minimal over the years and I truly feel like “less is more." I am working towards becoming less of a collector and making more intentional purchases. Simple is good. Find what makes you happy. Declutter when you can. Be present. Find the beauty in the unexpected (we certainly did with our cabin). Mindful, slow curation is the season I am in.
"Simple is good. Find what makes you happy."
This holiday, we’ve been talking a lot about the importance of "play” no matter how old you are. What are some things you + your family enjoy doing together during the holidays?
Every year we can’t wait to get out the family puzzles. This is a tradition that stemmed from Brandon’s family and we loved it so much that we brought it into our little family. We congregate around the table after dinner and can spend hours trying to find the right pieces.
When we fit a piece in the puzzle, we do a double tap with our finger to let everyone know of our success, it’s quite funny (to us anyway)! What I love about putting a puzzle together is it’s a slow family activity. We bring puzzles into the home that have meaning to us. We traveled to Iceland a couple of years ago, so we got a map of the country, and when we moved to NY, we found a puzzle with our beloved Strand bookstore. It reminds us of all the fun we have had as a family over the years.
What’s playing on the record player right now?
We have an assortment of holiday albums and as soon as Thanksgiving is over, we throw on the She and Him Holiday album. We each take turns playing our favorite records. Brandon likes George Winston's “December” and Milly loves the Sound of Music (good during any time of year, right?!).
Last but not least, what are some of the most nostalgic memories you have around the holidays?
Some of my favorite memories are of hosting Brandon’s family every Christmas Eve in the Pacific NW. We would make all of the appetizers, create gingerbread houses, open one gift, sip champagne, and have snowball fights. We would sit around the fireplace for hours talking, laughing, and spending time together. We miss this tradition, but look forward to making new ones on the East Coast.
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Photos by Summer Wick