Edit ModuleShow Tags

Inside Julia Wheeler's Boho Abode

A local tastemaker, stylist, and thrift store pro gives us a tour of her home


Published:

The living room houses vintage pieces like the couple’s authentic Womb chair from Boomerang for Modern, and an army cot styled with a sheepskin throw and Moroccan pillows. The vintage rug, purchased at a La Mesa antique shop, was an anniversary gift.

Julia, Gram, and Dusty Wheeler in the kitchen entry.

“It’s a little modern, a little bohemian, and a mixture of things from places we’ve traveled,” says Julia Wheeler, describing the style of her 1959 cottage ranch house in the College East area. Julia has gained a following thanks to her burgeoning e-commerce site Gunn and Swain, which sells an eclectic assortment of global goods, and through various styling projects at Wayfarer Collective alongside friend and local photographer Taryn Kent.

But nowhere else is Julia’s free-spirited aesthetic more apparent than at the home she shares with her husband, Dusty; son, Gram; and newborn daughter, Elizabeth. At the time of this photo shoot, she was quite literally barefoot and pregnant, about to give birth any second as she chased her toddler from room to room, almost unaware of the camera.

The domicile itself—decked in macramé, sheepskin, and more—exudes an authentic bohemian vibe. Almost everything is vintage, found at local thrift stores and Kobey’s Swap Meet.

Dusty built a custom shelf system in the dining room, inspired by a trip to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. A mix of old schoolhouse and Eames shell chairs surrounds the table, which was also made by Dusty. The couple found the vintage record player at the swap meet.

“We’ve always been more into the eras of the ’60s and ’70s,” Julia explains. “I’d rather have an original piece than a cheaply made replica. The older stuff tends to be made better.”

And if something in her house didn’t come vintage, it was probably handmade by Dusty. He is a talent in his own right, at the helm of two businesses, Rael Made wood and metal fabrication and Dusty Wheeler Stone & Tile. Although Julia insists, “It’s so hard when your husband is handy; there are so many projects and never enough time,” he has created something in almost every corner of the house. He refinished the kitchen cabinets and laid the tile in several rooms. But then there’s the more artistic stuff, like the custom shelf system in the dining room, and the crates that hold the couple’s vintage record collection. In the backyard alone, Dusty built a midcentury-style shed (it looks like a little ranch house), full-size teepee (the cool-kid version of a standard playhouse), and a skateboard ramp (a gift for Gram’s first birthday).

Julia commissioned the velvet painting, based on their wedding photo; it hangs above their makeshift bar, another thrift shop find.
The breakfast nook is white and bright, with an Ikea table and pendant, and vintage chairs found on eBay.

Prior to breaking out on her own, Julia worked in marketing for TransWorld Skateboarding magazine, which explains the homages to skateboard culture. A vintage skateboard and a photo torn from the book Locals Only hang on the wall above the sofa in the living room.

Hanging and potted plants are scattered throughout the house, which, as Julia says, make for an “easy and cheap way to accessorize your space.”

Many of the home’s most interesting details come from the couple’s art, like the work above the fireplace, which was painted by their friend Nilo Naghdi, who also sketched the octopus on the kitchen’s chalkboard wall. A Tijuana artist created the velvet painting in the dining room, based on one of their wedding photos. Julia commissioned it as a first anniversary gift for Dusty. There are also two large framed photos, taken by Taryn Kent, both mementos from trips the friends took together.

Julia scored this rattan peacock chair for $15 on Craigslist.

Through Instagram, Julia found Las Vegas macramé artist Veronica Torres-Miller and asked her to make a custom piece that would double as a window treatment in the master bedroom. “I had the hardest time figuring out what to do with that weird little window above our bed,” Julia says.

On the opposite wall hangs a colorful weaving that was part of a community art project in Queens, New York.

The master bedroom is filled with unique and artful details, like a custom macramé hanging that doubles as a window shade and a large weaving that came from MoMA PS1 in New York.

For the nursery, the Wheelers converted an old sunroom with garage access into a mini hipster’s paradise—complete with a teeny drum set. The room features a 5-foot-tall mural of another Kent photo, taken in Joshua Tree. The couple had the image blown up and printed in three sheets at a neighborhood copy shop. Then they taped them together and suspended the entire mural by a wooden dowel.

The Wheelers converted an old sunroom into the nursery. Dusty built the closet system, with sliding doors and a center bookshelf.
The backyard has a midcentury-modern shed, teepee playhouse, and skateboard ramp—all made by Dusty.

The mural was the brainchild of Julia’s friend Summer Meza, a designer at Modernhaus. Elsewhere in the space, Meza opted for a US General mechanic’s cart that serves as a changing table and an Ikea crib that pops thanks to hand-painted neon yellow slats.

But as so many homeowners learn, decorating a house is a marathon, not a sprint. “I still don’t feel like it’s done,” Julia sighs. “There’s stuff that would be cool to have. I just haven’t found it yet.”

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Trending: Houseplants are Having a Moment

Forget faux ferns. Houseplants—and their accessories—are making a chic comeback

San Diego Neighborhood Guide: Solana Beach

Del Mar's neighbor to the north has always been laid-back, down-to-earth, and family friendly; now its cuisine, fashion, and arts are on the way up, too

Two New Nurseries Bring High-Style Greenery to San Diego

Point Loma and University Heights are seeing green thanks to Eden plant boutique
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. San Diego's Best Restaurants 2018
    Dig into the 260 winners defining San Diego’s food scene in 2018
  2. San Diego's Best Restaurant of 2018: The Finalists
    San Diego Magazine's Best Restaurants issue comes out in June. Here are food critic Troy Johnson's finalists for the best of the best.
  3. The Coolest Things Happening in San Diego Beer Right Now
    A dive into the new, notable, and lesser-known in our city’s beer scene
  4. Good Night, Cafe Chloe
    San Diego’s beloved French bistro is closing due to California’s unfair labor laws
  5. Pacific Gate: Downtown Living at its Finest
    Bosa Development brings Super Prime luxury to Downtown San Diego
  6. 5 Hot San Diego Pools That Are Open to the Public
    Where to go for lounging, sipping, dipping, or attending a grown-up pool party
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Vote Now for Your Orangetheory Winner!

Winners will be announced at our Sweat event on May 12

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

AquaVie: 10 Reasons It’s Downtown’s Best Kept Secret

The best workout and spa getaway around? It’s actually right underneath your nose.

Enter a Drawing You Could Actually Win

There are more than 1,700 prizes in the Dream House Raffle
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags