A lakeside cabin becomes a family’s weekend retreat.
Imagine having a place you could escape to at the end of the week where your stress melts away as you gaze upon the serene beauty of a mountain lake surrounded by tall pine and cedar trees. Hilde and Reza Leiaghat did more than just dream of such a place for their family; they made it a reality.
Hilde grew up in the countryside of Belgium, where her father used to take her on jaunts to flea markets. She attributes her love for antiques and linen to that time in her life. “Belgium is a major producer of flax, from which linen is derived,” Hilde explains. She later moved to Los Angeles, California, where she turned her passion for linen goods into two successful enterprises: Pom Pom Interiors retail stores and Pom Pom At Home, a wholesale company headed up by her son Sam, for which she designs and manufactures 100% linen bedding and table fabrics.
But as the demand for her products increased, so did the stress of having two thriving businesses. Pom Pom Interiors has three retail stores: one in Hollywood, one in Santa Monica and a new store in Beverly Hills. Life in LA was exciting but exhausting, and the family needed a place to get away—not just once a year, but as often as possible. With two young boys, they wanted to find someplace where the entire family could relax and have fun. Lake Arrowhead, in California’s San Bernadino Mountains, fit the bill perfectly.
“It’s an hour and a half from LA, so it’s not a big commitment to go there; we can quickly go and come back,” Hilde says. “It’s a place for us to calm down and de-stress from the work week—we don’t even have a TV or the Internet. All we have is a radio and a CD player. We read, we talk and we get back to basics by connecting with family and friends. When our sons were young we went there a lot; in the summer the kids went boating, and in the winter they went snowboarding. As they got older we didn’t go there as much, but now we are going more again.”
Their home away from home at Lake Arrowhead is a cabin. But don’t picture the kind of tiny log cabin you might find in the woods; theirs is a big, airy duplex made of wood, with high ceilings and a glass A-frame design that affords a scenic view. “When it snows, it looks like a winter wonderland,” Hilde says.
When you walk through the front door, you have several options. A couple of steps lead down to what had been a play area for the kids, where they stowed their snowboards so they didn’t track in dirt. The main floor has an open floor plan, where the living room, dining room and kitchen flow together. A staircase goes up to the second floor, where there are two bedrooms, a bathroom and an open balcony that looks over the living room to the panoramic view outside.
Hilde adds interest to a farm table by draping textiles over it. She layered patterned rugs over a solid beige carpet for a cozy feel.
Hilde describes her interior design style as romantic, cozy and comfortable. “The living room/kitchen area is my favorite room. We can be cooking and have an open fire on and talk to our friends. It’s perfect for entertaining,” she says. Hilde filled the cabin with interesting and unusual furnishings, and then put her own twist on them. For instance, she cut down the legs of an antique farm table and made it into a coffee table—sometimes the family uses it as a game table, sometimes they eat on it. Another antique farm table is used as a dining table. Two antique leather chairs invite guests to relax in comfort.
A large antique Persian rug is a bold accent piece; its red, gold and blue color palette adds warmth to the cabin and enhances the wood floor. To give the faux-brick fireplace from the ’80s a classic, cozy feel, she put an old mantelpiece around it. To add a rustic, whimsical touch to the wall above the fireplace, Hilde hung a big moose head that she bought at an auction. A large, unusual chandelier built from wood barrels lights the home in style.
Further imprinting her personal touch on the cabin’s interior, Hilde’s own linen work, such as handmade blankets and throws, is sprinkled throughout the rooms. “They are simple designs famous for embroidery,” she says. “I create linens that look vintage but have a fresh feeling and are affordable, because antique linens are generally very expensive. My goal is to make something elegant again in a more affordable way.” She also “shops her shop” for the cabin’s accessories, from small knickknacks and dishes to large chandeliers.
The decision to have a family vacation home has one benefit that surpasses all others, especially during the holidays: the memories that are created every day. “We always spend Christmas there,” Hilde says. “We love to put a tree, pull out the Christmas ornaments and watch the kids and their friends decorate the tree, play music and drink wine. At the start of the holidays, we put a big wreath on the balcony balustrade that looks over the living room. The time we spend there cooking and baking make it a home.”
By Meryl Schoenbaum
Photography by Jacqueline deMontravel