I am often surprised by how different my design projects turn out. They’re different because each of my clients is different: different interests, different architecture, different geography, different tastes in color and style. If you look at Charlene’s place (see the entry just before this one) next to Leonora’s you’ll see a very different look though they share some similar elements: slip covered sofas, slip covered dining room chairs, fabric window treatments on custom rod and rings, wicker, and original artwork.
Leonora and Randall are SF residents during the week, but like me they travel to Sonora on the weekends for some much needed fresh air and sunshine. They love the local farmer’s market, the old town flavour, the trees, the neighboring wine country, the mountains, the outdoor concerts, the beautiful summer nights…I could keep going. It really is a beautiful place to be.
I first met Leonora at one of my design stores. She came in on a Saturday morning with her sister. I remember I had been up all night re-merchandising the store with new shipments. It looked warm and inviting. That building was my third location and was built in the 1850’s. When Leonora and I had exchanged greetings she asked if I knew of anyone who could help her with design services and I said I did indeed. She told me where her new home was located and I knew exactly which one she was referring to. I was so thrilled!
The architecture of Randall and Leonora’s home is quite unique. It’s Spanish Colonial I believe, built about ten or twelve years ago by master craftsmen, many of them Irish. It’s full of architectural details such as rough hewn beams, imported tile for the roof, and hand stenciling but not the overly sweet kind we often see. It has numerous skylights throughout the house and guest quarters. All the doors, windows, and hardware are custom.
The house had very little furniture to begin with. As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, I used it’s rusticity and pale blue green kitchen cabinets as my starting point. Once that was established the rest was easy. This is one of my favorite projects because I dearly love the character and placement of the house. The sofa and club chair are slip covered in a pale blue cotton canvas. I don’t usually do solid colored fabrics on sofas. I prefer the ease of prints because they don’t show every little spot and hair the way solids do. But this couple’s daughter Renata is grown and out of the house. They have no pets at the moment. Their sweet dog Enis passed away a few months ago but even then he wasn’t on the furniture. So I bent my rule on solid fabric sofas.
I have enjoyed some special dinners at Leonora and Randall’s. I especially love eating out on their patio with it’s outdoor fireplace. The hot tub looks so pretty lit up at night with it’s little fountain burbling away. They always serve good wine and healthy food.
Local artwork is seen in several rooms in the house and the area rugs came from the previous owner who sells them in SF. The slipper chairs were slip covered in a subtle brown floral with welts and ties matching the sofa fabric. The dining room table has latch on extensions and hidden drawers. The wood is mahogany. The side chairs have rush backs and seats. The color of the oversize tile is a buff or sand color…really pretty with the plaster walls and woodwork.
Leonora is so passionate about her home in the country. I love that she gets so much joy from being there. They have a great cherry tree in the back yard, lots of olive trees, and a beautiful pomegranate in the front. I am very fortunate that Leonora chose me to be her designer. I have enjoyed a wonderful friendship with both her and hubby Randall. David and I had dinner recently with them when Leonora’s nephew was visiting from Mexico. My only regret is because I live nearby, it’s unlikely I’ll ever get to stay in the guest house!
six chicken breasts, skinned and boned (better for soaking up flavors)
2 13 oz. cans tomato sauce
1 C. catsup
6 oz. dark beer
4 oz. soy sauce
4 oz. white wine vinegar
cumin, mild red chili power, and dry mustard to taste
Liquid Smoke or Wright’s Hickory Flavoring
4 to 5 T. roasted chopped garlic (comes in a jar, can be found in most produce sections)
Simmer all ingredients in a large saucepan for about 30 minutes. It will reduce and thicken very slightly. Place chicken in an oblong baking dish covered well with sauce. You can add a little extra roasted chopped garlic in between the folds of the chicken breasts. Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour. Bar-b-Que as usual adding extra sauce mid way. You can store the bar-b-Que sauce indefinitely in the fridge but be sure to discard any sauce that came in contact with raw chicken.