It’s no secret that Pinterest was flooded with all-white, mid-century minimalist interiors in 2016, and is it any surprise? We’ve all fallen hard for the look and have cast our vote that the trend is here to stay. Nobody nails this laid-back modern vibe quite like Serena Mitnik Miller, seriously talented painter and owner of one of the coolest home decor shops on the west coast called General Store. Our friends at Rip & Tan gave us a sneak peek into the Malibu bungalow Serena shares with her husband Mason and their sweet baby boy named – wait for it – Wild! Scroll down to check out their home and head over to Rip & Tan for even more photos.
Rip & Tan: What first sparked your interest in art or made you think about becoming an artist?
Serena Mitnik Miller: Both my parents are artists so I grew up surrounded by creativity and cannot remember a time when I wasn’t drawing, painting, or creating. There was a point in high school and college when I rebelled against the idea of being a working artist, but that phase passed and here I am.
How did you eventually come to open General Store?
We never planned to open a store but when the opportunity to rent the space on Judah Street in the Outer Sunset presented itself, we decided to give it a go. The intention was to sell a few things in the front space and have a studio in the back. Within a year, the studio moved back to our house and a few years later we partnered with our friends in Venice to open our second location.
What was/is your mission for the store?
The store is essentially an extension of our lives and what we are interested in. Over the years it has evolved and grown and I imagine will continue to do so.
What are your other outlets for creativity?
Besides the store and painting, I love working on the house and getting dirty in the garden, knitting and mending while we drive, and thrifting and exploring when we travel.
How do you like living in Los Angeles now that you are here permanently? What do you like about the city?
I have always loved Topanga because you feel like you’re living in the country but you can be downtown in the thick of it within the hour. After living in San Francisco for almost 15 years I was eager to get back to the country and get dirty. I grew up barefoot and wanted the same for my children. This way I feel like we can have the best of both worlds.
How did you discover your home in Topanga? What drew you to the space or neighborhood?
We have been spending time in Topanga for years and when we started looking for a place to buy, it ended up being more affordable than San Francisco. A neighbor tipped us off to this house which was a real fixer, which was exactly what we were looking for. We love this area, the state park is in our backyard, and children and dogs run free in the streets. Life is simple here.
What’s your favorite spot in the house? Where do you spend the most time?
That’s the best part of an open floor plan. We spend most of our time in the main living space. Since moving in while pregnant and now being a mom, the dining table has turned into my office/studio.
A glimpse into Serena’s painting studio.
What are some of your favorite places to buy home items or makers of home goods?
I love travel finds and flea markets for vintage. Of course most of the items in our house can be found at General Store. My favorite vintage furniture shop is Farnsworth in San Francisco. I also love Japanese home goods; Tortoise General Store is the best in place of traveling to Japan.
Serena and her husband Mason at home with their son Wild.
How has becoming a mother changed your perspective on your career and life goals?
Becoming a mother has always been something I wanted, and it has been more incredible than I could have ever imagined. Maintaining my work life has been challenging, but I feel very fortunate that Mason is so supportive and I have wonderful and inspiring mothers around me who can guide me. At the end of the day, my goals are the same.
Has living in LA or becoming a mother changed your personal style? If so, how? If not, why not?
The weather in LA allows for more dresses and less layers, but I have always been a no frills kinda gal. Comfort is my top priority. I love the basics with a vintage flair. I have always loved overalls and am a huge fan of the onesie. I would say mostly my style has remained the same, but breastfeeding has limited me to boob-accessible outfits for now.
What do you wear when you want to feel comfortable? What’s your uniform?
My uniform is vintage Levi’s or Chimala denim, Lauren Manoogian sweaters, Birkenstocks in the summer, No. 6 clogs in the winter, and always vintage t-shirts and sweatshirts.
What do you wear when you want to dress up a bit?
A dress, or jeans, or Jessie Kamm pants with some heels – nothing too fancy.
How do you find balance between work, personal time, and motherhood/family?
I am just starting to find my stride, but I find my instinct is to want to be home or go out as a family, so I am trying to find my independence and time for myself.
How do you stay healthy?
Walking, surfing, and hiking as much as I can.
What are you listening to, reading, or watching right now?
I am big on podcasts. “Here’s The Thing” is always at the top of my list.
What creative projects are you excited about for 2017?
I have a solo show in New York next fall, but mostly just excited to watch Wild grow!
Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
New Year’s is my favorite holiday when I can review the year past and set new goals for the next. Simplify and more family time is at the top of the list, whether by traveling together or just staying home.