Not your typical quarantine

Ginger Atherton has owned Bella (center) for years, but Maxwell
and Kingston are pandemic puppies. Courtesy photo

By Meghan McLaughlin

While most people were holed up at home baking banana bread, performing TikTok dances, or binge-watching a new show, Ginger Atherton had different plans for her quarantine activities—plans to be used loosely.

“My passion is for animals,” Atherton said. “Adopting animals, fostering animals and helping rescue animals—those are my passions.”

When she saw online that two Newfoundland dogs needed homes in May 2020, Atherton flew hundreds of miles to pick them up. The dogs came with a catch, though; they had bonded with two ponies on the same property.

“I’m standing there in this cul-de-sac in Idaho, and I’m like, ‘What ponies?'” Atherton said. “I meet these little ponies and the neighbors ask me if I have room for them, so I’m like ‘Yeah, sure,’ not thinking, not truly understanding what it takes to have ponies.”

Following a completed onslaught of tests and certifications, the two ponies, named Oakley and JoJo, were brought to Woodinville in June. After a brief stay at a neighbor’s barn, Oakley and JoJo came home to their pink pony palace.

The return trip from Idaho didn’t include bringing back two ponies, but Ginger couldn’t say no after she met Oakley and JoJo. Courtesy photo

The palace did not come together all at once, however. At great expense, the barn required permits, and the paddock needed a filtration system, proper gravel and fencing.

“It gave me a full-time job during Covid,” Atherton said. “It absolutely gave me a project and a purpose. It’s added a lot of joy to my home.”

The barn has a fireplace, chandeliers and a separate bar room too, where Atherton hosts events called “Carrots and Cocktails.”

Guests have a cocktail in the barn’s bar and feed carrots to the ponies. Oakley even knows how to unlock the bar door with her muzzle.

“They’re very smart creatures,” Atherton said. “Yet they’re very simple. It’s amazing how much we really don’t know about them.”

Oakley and JoJo are as well-maintained as they are talented. They take vitamins, have seen a nutritionist and an acupuncturist and get mani-pedis every six weeks.

Atherton estimates that she tends to them at least five times a day.

“I pretty much live for my animals,” Atherton said.

Atherton lives with her husband and three large dogs in a home on seven acres of land in a 2006 Street of Dreams neighborhood. After the first residents left the house, it remained vacant for three years. During that time, someone ransacked it and everything from appliances down to doorknobs was gone.

Construction of the Pink Pony Palace began last June. Courtesy photo

With her extensive background in interior design, the house was the perfect project for Atherton. Originally from San Francisco, Atherton moved to Beverly Hills at 20 years old to start her career in interior design. She immersed herself in the high-end clientele of Los Angeles celebrities who had Atherton design their offices, homes and second homes—sometimes third homes.

She also received requests to find homes for clients and design them from the ground up. Atherton worked with set designers at Paramount Studios to create custom items for homes, especially for celebrities’ children. Her timeline? Usually about two weeks.

Atherton stumbled upon the staging industry after her whirlwind of designing celebrity homes. At one point, she was staging seven days a week. What made her business unique—aside from the high-end furniture she used to match the $10 million home she was enhancing; she sold all the furniture at the end of the staging period.

“I basically used every house as a furniture store,” Atherton said. “So there were 10, 20, 30 houses at a time filled with Ginger Atherton’s furniture. They were all my showrooms.”

Compounding two business ventures into one setting proved difficult, especially since Atherton was a single mother to her two children at the time. She felt fortunate to own a business that allowed for a flexible schedule so she could be there for her children.

“Because when you have children, there’s no choice,” Atherton said. “They come first. You have no life. Everything revolves around your children.”

Now that Atherton’s three children are grown and have children of their own, they love to compete against each other as party planners.

“We just keep outdoing each other and inspiring each other to do more,” Atherton said. “It’s fun being a member of our family because we have parties all the time.”

Atherton has written the book on luxurious living—literally. She has authored four books on elegant interiors, home staging and running a home. Atherton has another book in the works with a slightly different focus.

“Princess Peyton’s Pink Pony Palace’s Book of Parties” will be a children’s book on manners, table etiquette and party planning. The book’s inspiration comes from Atherton’s most recent endeavor, etiquette tea parties for children ages three to 11 years old. Students learn introductions, table settings, decor design, table manners, and how to write thank-you notes at Atherton’s tea parties, all in the pink pony barn.

“Children learn better while enjoying a memorable experience,” Atherton said. “These parties are made to have fun, enjoy sugary treats and most importantly, teach proper etiquette.”

Although the pink pony barn was an unplanned venture, it has been host to many parties and will continue to. After all, Atherton holds the reins.

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