Bethany Clough

How two sisters transformed this 1922 home into an Instagram-worthy business, ‘bohemian lair’

The 1922 home on the edge of the Tower District is an Instagrammer’s dream.

Recently redone by new owners, it has vintage wall paper, a giant feathery piece of art hanging like a chandelier, and miles of white window drapings. The home could easily be the centerpiece of a decor magazine.

It’s actually a business though, the Fresno headquarters for international bridal dress designer and seller Daughters of Simone. At 844 N. Van Ness, the three-bedroom, two story home is halfway between Olive and Belmont avenues.

It wasn’t always something worthy of a magazine.

It was a law office before the pair of sisters behind the business, Brittany and Ashley Castaños, bought it.

“It wasn’t in great shape,” Ashley Castaños said. “It definitely needed a feminine touch.”

The blue office carpet got ripped out. The 1980s light fixtures also went bye bye. They refinished the hardwood floors and installed a new roof.

But many of the original details remain, like the wood banister, the original glass windows and pocket doors.

The pair hired Fresno-based interior designer ParcelHouse Design. Together they bathed the home in 1960s and 1970s decor – which also happens to be the style of dresses the sisters design and sell worldwide.

See our video for a visual tour of the building.

“We just went all out with the lighting and a 1960s kind of vibe,” said Brittany Castaños.

Its appearance has led to some unexpected uses, like the option to rent it out for photo or film shoots.

Daughters of Simone

But the location is first and foremost a business. Daughters of Simone designs, sells and ships its gowns, usually ranging from $1,500 to $3,000, to boutiques around the world. One is sold through Anthropologie’s bridal line, BHLDN.

The building houses offices and shelves of dresses, though the dresses are made elsewhere. The light-filled sun room facing the backyard is the quality control room, where each dress is inspected by a worker before shipping.

The name Daughters of Simone doesn’t refer to the sisters’ mother, but is a reference to French feminist icon Simone de Beauvoir. And if their last name sounds familiar, it’s because the Bullard High School grads are related to the family behind homebuilder Wathen Castanos Homes.

And it’s not the first project like this they’ve taken on. Brittany Castaños and her husband Jeff Osborne renovated a Tower District bungalow into an Airbnb rental and turned a school bus into a home. You can see both places on Instagram at @sometowerhouse and @somedrifters.

The store

The sisters also call the home a “bohemian bridal lair,” words that are painted on the exterior of the building. Its distinctive appearance has led to a variety of uses.

Daughters of Simone is also a bridal shop where brides can make appointments to try on dresses. Dressing rooms with long curtains have been installed in the living room, with couches and chairs for friends and family to sit, part of a bridal tradition.

For $125, the bride can get wine and a charcuterie board filled with meats, cheeses and munchies from Fresno-based Fig & Honey. It turns the appointment into a bit of a mini bridal shower, Ashley said.

The space is also part boutique, with jewelry and items that can be as given as gifts. Most are made by small independent makers, or picked up during the sisters travels, like perfume bottles from Morocco.

In addition to appointments, the public can check out the business during walk-in hours from noon to 7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays.

The space can also be rented by brides as a place to get ready for their wedding. Often, the getting-ready stage becomes part of the photos commemorating the day.

“They can come up on the balcony, drink mimosas, get ready,” Ashley said.

And the space is available to rent for film or photo shoots. That can include engagement photo sessions or professional shoots for movie scenes or commercials. For $200 an hour, the building can be rented via Peerspace.com.

Events

Daughters of Simone has scheduled several upcoming events in the building, many of them bringing in local makers of jewelry, hats or local stores who will sell their wares. They expect food trucks and bands to be a part of some events too.

A flea market is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, with local artists and artisans selling art, vintage clothing and furniture.

“We don’t have to pigeonhole ourselves to bridal,” Ashley said.

That big-picture view also played a role in choosing a home that’s close to downtown, said Brittany.

“We think it’s really important to invest in our downtown and the Tower District,” she said. “There’s a young entrepreneurial spirit here that’s really starting to take off.”

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