New Traditions: Evette Rios
A 1790s cabin transports lifestyle expert Evette Rios and her family to another time and place and becomes their go-to retreat for creating new family traditions.
It's a 90-minute drive from New York City to Evette Rios's family getaway in the Pocono Mountains in Eastern Pennsylvania. For the interior designer, television lifestyle host, and friend and regular guest on Rachael's show, every moment of the trip is spent in anticipation. Soon she and her husband, Stephen Davies, will be outside playing with their two sons, Yagües (Yago), six, and Guarionex (Rex), four, by the stream that winds around their 1790s cabin. Then they'll head back to their newly built deck for make-your-own pizza at the outdoor oven. It's a peaceful spot far from their busy day-to-day in the city while also being a dream come true for Evette, who has wanted to own her own home since childhood.
She grew up in Brooklyn in the '80s surrounded by her large, loving Puerto Rican family. Her parents wanted their kids to see the world beyond their city apartment and experience the outdoors, so they bought an RV camper. "The Poconos are where we would go to relax lakeside, fish, swim...that was how I spent my summers," she says. In 2013, Stephen and Evette, who was pregnant with Yago at the time, bought their own place in the area—Evette's first time owning!—with room to entertain and spend time with friends and family. "I always wanted more space than we had in the city," Evette says. "We landed on Pennsylvania because I love its history and I had roots there."
A home built during John Adams's presidency comes with lots of history and character. Evette loved the three-bedroom log cabin when she first laid eyes on it. It's the real deal, with a facade of the whole-tree-sized logs that still show the axe marks, held together with hefty chinking. The wide stone hearth is the heart of the cabin and was most likely part of its original kitchen. The previous owners worked hard to maintain the place and stayed true to the historic era in their decor choices, and Evette has kept the character of the home intact while gradually inserting her own style.
"At first I wanted to tackle a lot of projects," Evette says. "But a wise person told me, 'Nothing is ever done when you own a house. You need to relax into it and understand that it's an evolving space. There will always be projects, but you want to make sure to enjoy it, too.' "
Evette selectively added touches that played to the cabin's history but in a way that felt current. "I gravitated toward more traditional forms with the furniture and art, as it suited the house," says Evette, who put her love of antiques to good use here. "But over time, I got to a place where I wanted to add some lightness and brightness. I started working in more modern touches, like the Saarinen table in the eat-in kitchen, to give it more freshness. Now I feel like I can respect the history of the house but I don't feel like I need to historically 'reenact' its decor." By necessity, many of Evette's choices were decidedly kid- and dog-friendly, too.
The kitchen, a 1930s addition, is still on the to-do list for a full redo. But until then, Evette has hidden the worn tile with peel-and-stick vinyl flooring she could DIY in a classic black-white-and-blue geometric pattern. For extra seating, she added industrial bar stools at the counter.
In the living room, the hearty hearth wrapped in Federalist-style millwork anchors the space. To play off its symmetry in a fun way, Evette brought in cane wingback chairs, set a classic urn on the mantel, and hung a faux steer head above the fireplace. The portable bar welcomes everyone in to get a drink and take a seat next to the warm fire. "We use the fireplace more than I ever expected," Evette says.
The deck and outdoor kitchen, built last summer, are the cabin's newest additions. Set off of the kitchen, the deck became the family's go-to gathering space—and has seen even more use since they're spending so much time at home these days. "The deck is a game-changer," Evette says. She chose Trex, a weather-resistant, low-maintenance composite decking, in a silvery barnwood finish that fit right in with the cabin but wouldn't produce splinters. "We get more inside the house from the original wood floors than outside!" Evette says.
The cabin has become a place for the kids to grow and share memories and new traditions with their extended family and friends. "We're surrounded by history, nature, and everything we love to do now," Evette says. "It's our favorite place to be."
This article originally appeared in our Winter/Spring 2021 issue. Get the magazine here.
Resources: Deck cladding, Trex Decking. White railing, Trex Railing. Swim spa, Masterspas Therapool D. Cabinetry, Trex Outdoor Kitchens. Cabinet hardware, Hobby Lobby. Kitchen island, Tucker Robbins (Custom). Marble kitchen countertop, Polycor- Georgia Marble- Pear Grey. Dining table and chairs, Frontgate Paris Bistro Side Chairs. Fireplace, American Fyre–Contractors Model. Dutch door to outdoor kitchen, Rustica Doors. Fireside chairs, Vintage Homecrest Swivel Chairs. Stone cladding for fireplace, Polycor-Rockford Estate Blend. Outdoor fabrics, Sunbrella. Outdoor sofa, Outer 5-Piece Outdoor Armless Sectional. Outdoor rugs, Frontgate Tanzie Indoor/Outdoor Rug. Awning window and door, Activ-wall. Outdoor bar stools, Tucker Robbins.