Kaitlin Loewenthal has a nightly ritual with her three oldest children. Every evening, they each sit down on a plush velvet chair and, with a cup of tea in hand, they read for an hour from one of the many books on the shelves in the “reading room.”
Loewenthal, who owns and operates the boutique Hello Penngrove, designed this room in her custom home to facilitate this treasured time of day.
“If I create this magical space that’s dedicated to reading, we’re going to do it more and enjoy it even more,” she said of her thought behind the project.
Loewenthal and her husband, Aaron Loewenthal, a realtor, began working on the plans for their new home with architect James McCalligan in 2014. Two years later, they celebrated their first Thanksgiving in their new house.
When the couple found themselves in need of an additional source of income, they got creative: Their dream home was transformed into the vacation rental Hello Penngrove Home while the family stayed for a few days at a time in Kaitlin’s father’s nearby studio or the family vacation home at Stinson Beach.
The growing family (now six) soon perfected their packing skills — bags needed to be packed quickly and belongings put away while the house was cleaned and readied for guests; towels fluffed, local soaps and lotions put out and the fridge stocked with bubbly water.
Loewenthal discovered she enjoyed taking care of these hospitality details. Being a fan of minimalism also helped streamline the process — with few superfluous items in the home, packing the family’s belongings into lockable closets was easier than it otherwise might have been. Knowing they had to keep their belongings to a minimum to facilitate moving in and out of their home, Loewenthal continued to scrutinize every item in the household, assessing whether or not it was necessary and/or meaningful.
This less-is-more philosophy carries over to Loewenthal’s business. Hello Penngrove sells housewares, gifts and items for children, such as clothing, toys and, of course, books. The store doesn’t carry anything Loewenthal wouldn’t like to have in her own home and she often gives items a test run in the Hello Penngrove Home. She styles the products for photos, which then appear on the store’s Instagram page.
Loewenthal has adopted a holistic approach to home design. Just like the “reading room” engendered a new nightly ritual for her family, she believes that a well-designed space can change how we live. To that end, she also created a “secret garden” for her family’s home.
The Loewenthal backyard boasts a collection of trees — fig, orange, olive and lemon — that produce an impressive amount of fruits for the family and their lucky neighbors. Each child is in charge of their own raised bed — the corn was easy to grow, the watermelons proved a challenge — and they love filling their wagons with carrots, tomatoes, pumpkins and gourds.
Inside the home, a large dining table of reclaimed redwood accommodates large family gatherings and a chalkboard wall allows Loewenthal to create a seasonal mural — the bottom half is used by the kids for drawing.
The master bedroom is housed at the top level of a small tower-like structure connected to the house. The bedroom windows, high above the ground, allow for stargazing and waking up with the sun. Early rising is important for the busy mom and entrepreneur.
“I feel like I’m really trying to create spaces where we’re going to live life how we want to — I believe in decorating a space that reflects our values,” said Loewenthal.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the family has lived at home full time but Loewenthal imagines they will rent out their Hello Penngrove Home as an Airbnb in the future.