Marriage is all about compromise, so when Aurora and Rickey Cross
tied the knot 10 years ago and blended and then soon expanded their brood to six, they decided it was time to buy a house. However, these firsttime homeowners had very different wish lists. “I wanted older with character, he wanted newer with more amenities. I wanted one story, he wanted two. I wanted no pool, he wanted a pool,” Aurora explains. “So we played rock paper scissors—and I lost.”
The couple purchased a basic tract home built in 1985, and Aurora admits that it wasn’t love at first sight. She cut her losses and made it her mission to infuse as much character into the house as possible. “I wasn’t impressed by the layout at all, but its simplicity did offer a blank canvas,” she concedes. Seven years later, after trying out looks as varied as farmhouse to midcentury modern, Aurora had an “aha moment,” realizing she enjoyed elements of many styles and that it was OK to blend them in her own way.
“I like the idea that people could walk through a home and almost immediately feel as if it’s a portrait of who lives there,” says Aurora, who notes that the things she adores most in her home are the ones that she and Rickey have teamed up to build. Together, the couple has constructed a farmhouse table, live-edge shelving in the kitchen, and a “chicken mansion” in the backyard, among other clever makes and hacks.
Aurora’s present-day style also recalls her free-spirited ’70s childhood. “My name is Aurora Nova, after all,” she says. Currently a stay-athome mom, she strives to create personal, cozy spaces where her family can enjoy each other and feel at peace. Among the ways Aurora achieves this vibe is by sticking to a set of basics she has come to know and love: a warm, earthy palette with dashes of muted jewel tones generally framed by something black and/or gray. And while rooms may begin with white walls and fairly traditional furniture, it’s the layering that creates the eclectic style she likes so much. A pastiche of “rad textiles” like flashy pillows, patterned blankets and graphic area rugs—each often finished with fringe—outfits every room. Leafy green fronds of plants cascade from all levels to splash spaces with natural color.
The consistent nature of Aurora’s rooms makes it easy for her to shop her own home when redecorating. “I have been styling my home in this way for about the last five years,” she says. “I still constantly shift and move things and reinvent rooms, usually switching items from one area to the other. That is actually one of my favorite things to do. It’s amazing what you can find lying around your own home, and you can completely change an entire space without spending a dime.”
When she’s not shopping her own home, Aurora can be found hunting for timeworn treasures at thrift shops and garage sales and on Craigslist and browsing new decor at World Market, Home Goods and Urban Outfitters. “Balancing new and old and adding texture—and black accents and plants—makes for a really livable home that is reflective of our colorful life,” Aurora concludes.
“My favorite things in our home are those that Rickey and I built with our own two hands.”
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Rickey constructed the farmhouse table to Aurora’s specifications, and then she applied layers of paint followed by a homemade treatment of vinegar and steel wool to achieve a worn appearance. The light fixture overhead was a $5 yard-sale score. Crates atop a small cabinet keep cookbooks at the ready. The couple fashioned open shelving from a slab of redwood—while planed for a smooth surface, they kept the natural border intact for a quality known as “live edge.” Honeycomb tiles with contrasting grout contribute to the organic feel. Aurora’s signature paint color was used to update the home’s existing cabinetry to great effect. OPPOSITE: A century-old farm door, deemed “The Wizard of Oz door” by the kids, was the first change made to the kitchen. Sheets of smooth Masonite create a non-permanent chalkboard wall. Metallic elements, including chairs spray painted rust and navy, add streaks of shine.
Random chairs are unified with glossy black paint. A feature wall in Railings paint harmonizes with the surrounding palette; the lively rug below adds pattern and interest. OPPOSITE, TOP: “I almost crashed my car when I saw the macramé plant hanger in a thrift-store window!” Aurora says of her acquisition. OPPOSITE, BOTTOM:THE bar cart holds collected vintage accoutrements.
ABOVE LEFT: A handmade ruffled petal pillow pulls together the warm russet tones of the furniture. LEFT: The pairing of black and auburn extends to the teenage bedroom, this time against a backdrop of a pale yet unfussy pink. Youthful accents include a string of lights from World Market, a faux-fur rug from Ross Dress for Less, and a large paper lantern. Folkloric prints abound in bedding from Urban Outfitters and secondhand wall decor. A hanging basket and stack of vintage trunks are signatures of Aurora’s style. OPPOSITE: The master bedroom brings to mind a boutique hotel with a graphic statement rug, lush velvet bedding and shams in “wasabi” from West Elm, and an accent wall painted in Behr’s Limousine Leather. Above the bed, a large map of nearby San Francisco is bordered by one-by-two planks of wood stapled in place for the look of a vintage school chart.
ABOVE: A $7 can of an unknown sherbet shade of paint left behind at the hardware store (aka “oops” paint) covers the bedroom walls of the youngest Cross children. A gallery wall of art made for the girls by each family member makes a lively and loving statement. “We are a super artistic family who paint, draw and write all the time. I like to change out the pieces in the open frames as the girls create more artwork,” Aurora says. ABOVE RIGHT: The bookshelves are made from rain gutters cut into 4-foot sections, spray painted gold and capped off with end pieces. RIGHT: The antler pillow shows the softer side of boho decor. OPPOSITE: Bedding on clearance at Urban Outfitters provided the inspiration for this groovy girls’ room. Strings of lights turn World Market canopies and beds into magical hideaways. The striped rug below connects with the vibrant artwork above.
A collection of secondhand baskets mounted with tack nails makes a fetching display on a kitchen wall. “The baskets are the perfect home for air plants,” says Aurora of the tillandsia she uses to adorn the assemblage.