Who: Lacy Ann Phillips
Where: Mariposa, California
Style: Rustic wellness retreat with Japanese and vintage English vibes
It should come as no surprise that, in the summer of 2018, Lacy Phillips manifested what would become The Forest Retreat House — a 2,400 square foot, two-story wellness retreat 10 miles, as the crow flies, outside of the entrance of Yosemite. She is, after all, a "leading manifestation advisor" — according to goop. Mariposa is also where she grew up.
"When I was young, I would dream of having a home in Midpines or Jerseydale," both forests of Mariposa, Phillips tells Hunker. And she long wanted a forest retreat that she could share with her community. Once the idea became part of a manifestation list, things came together quickly.
This 40-year-old home was only the second place she saw. "I heard a creek trickling in the back and I knew it was the one," she says. Buying the place was a family affair — her stepmother was the realtor, her dad's friend was the loan officer. And then it was hers.
Renovations took about six months. "It was my first remodel so I had no frame of reference," Phillips explains. The interior came down to the studs, aside from the old cedar ceilings, beams and walls, to make way for an open floor plan, clean, modern lines, and large windows to bring nature right inside.
Phillips instantly saw the potential for three bedrooms and a loft room upstairs — as well as an expansive outdoor bathroom complete with two matching vintage clawfoot tubs, sink, and toilet underneath the cedar trees.
"I always imagined soaking under the full moon and air bathing at once," she says. "It's the most divine experience."
Additional outdoor showers were installed near the infrared sauna.
The entire space has been feng shui-ed, she explains, to promote grounding, prosperity, and open the crown chakra. There's quartz underneath the floors, and crushed amethyst inside the new walls.
The vision was for a wellness retreat that embraced the medicinal aspects of forest bathing but also a design sensibility that spanned rustic Big Sur, Japanese wabi sabi, and vintage English touches. It is, Phillips explains, "a space for people to get back to their most authentic, whole selves in nature."
A vintage French bench lines the entryway — evidence of Phillips penchant for mixing up-cycled vintage with new modern accents.
"My favorite pieces would have to be the vintage French farm dining table surrounded by the vintage Windsor chairs," says Phillips. "I love all of their nooks and crannies for the story of their life before they lived here, how their excellent craftsmanship has withstood 100 years or more."
The coffee table in the downstairs communal living room is from Nickey Kehoe in Los Angeles.
The open living room and kitchen are Phillips' favorite place inside the retreat. "They are so fluid, minimal, but the warmth of the house where everyone gathers when I have guests," she says.
The kitchen features everyday indulgences, such as Heath ceramics, Le Creuset pots, vintage French copper pots, a Wolf range and a Smeg fridge.
Upstairs, a re-imagined loft space offers guests a place to read and relax.
Upstairs there are three bedrooms — The Creek Room, The Twin Room, and the Tree Room (not pictured). Each is room is outfitted with Parachute and Matteo bedding, Parachute robes and towels and a travel-sized biomat, plus vintage accents.
"Every tub and sink on the property was reclaimed," says Phillips, including the pure porcelain tub from the 1800s in the guest bath, which came from an old mansion in Pasadena. The French brass faucets in the guest bath came from an old bar in France. "They read Froide and Chaude for hot and cold," she says.
But the highlight of The Forest Retreat House, weather-permitting, is the outdoor bathing.
There is also an infrared sauna on the property.
The tranquility of the forest, after all, is the entire point. A dozen hikes are available right outside the doors of The Forest Retreat, many leading to creeks and waterfalls that all contribute to the healing nature of this truly special spot.
"I only get to personally retreat here about a week a month," says Phillips, "which feels good because it brings so much joy to have the rest of the time open for others to enjoy it."