HOME <i> on the </i> RANGE : A New Generation Reclaims Cowboy Style as Westward Haute

<i> Virginia Gray is an associate editor of Los Angeles Times Magazine. </i>

CALL IT cowboy, Western, yahoo-buckaroo style. Witty, casual, comfortable, it’s down-home, take-your-boots-off-and-relax furniture. Some pieces are new, some old; others just look old. To critics, it’s high camp; fans pronounce it high style.

Today the best of the West comes from Texas and Montana rather than New Mexico. The proof: Cowhide, pony prints, horseshoes, lariats and ten-gallon-hat motifs are looking fresher and more creative than cutout coyotes and lodgepole pine beds. Ralph Lauren is betting a whole home-furnishings line on the look’s rugged appeal.

Cowboy style isn’t new, of course. Western movie heroes of the 1940s and ‘50s--Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry--made cowboy furniture a favorite family-room decor. “Older baby boomers are longing for a connection to their childhoods,” says Saundra Abbott of Rituals, a La Cienega showroom / store devoted to Western furnishings.

“We look for furniture, vintage Pendleton blankets and period pottery, and we try to find old cowboy textiles--curtains, tablecloths and bedspreads,” says Betty Gold of Territory, a Melrose shop that specializes in Monterey style as well as Western goods. Don Kolclough, whose La Brea store, Cadillac Jack, stocks a large inventory of post-World War II cowboy furniture, takes a philosophical view: “Here we are 30 years later with another generation rediscovering this furniture. It just goes to show that everything old becomes news again.”


Home on the Range: The Showrooms and Stores

THE RAW MATERIALS may come from a farmhouse in Montana or a ranch in Texas, but the Westward Haute look comes together in Los Angeles, the interior design capital of the West. Astute shopkeepers combine the authentic with the innovative to create a style that is distinctly Western--with the cachet of L.A. Here are some sources:

CADILLAC JACK, 318 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 931-8864. Owners Don and Penny Kolclough deal exclusively in 20th-Century American design, including post-World-War II cowboy furniture and accessories. Wagon-wheel furniture plus pistol- or horse-motif clocks and boot-motif lamps.

DARYN FOND INTERIORS, 2105 Main St., Santa Monica, (213) 396-4426. A gallery / shop with Southwestern-flavored furnishings and colorful painted furniture by Jennifer Markes. Also painted floor canvases by Off the Wall, rustic copper mirrors, rusty copper buffalo-motif accessories, furniture and tableware.


GREGORY EVANS, 504 N. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 275-9040. A small shop featuring such specialties as Celia Birtwell’s hand-screened fabrics, singular teapots and porcelains, plus artist Judy Markham’s Western-inspired lamps.

JAZZ, Pacific Design Center, 8113 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 655-1104. Interpretive new Art Deco-style furniture by Marina McDonald includes some styles with cowhide detailing.

POLO / RALPH LAUREN, 444 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, (213) 281-7200; South Coast Plaza, 3333 Bristol St., No. 1242, Costa Mesa, (714) 556-7656. The only source for Lauren’s new Western-inspired home furnishings, including furniture, fabrics, wallpapers and bed linens.

RITUALS, 756 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 854-0848. A showroom / store filled with new Western furniture; Mexican antiques and reproductions; accessories; rugs, and art. Featured artisans: David Burke III, Reine River, Stephen Power, Russell Smith, Susan Wilder, Willow Evans, Fred Meyers, Alice Seely.

STYLUS, headquarters, 2703 Wardlow Road, Corona, (714) 736-1415. One of Southern California’s largest sources of upholstered furniture. Call main office for nearest location.

TERRITORY, 6907 1/2 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 937-4006. Highly specialized and lots of fun: vintage Western jewelry, Pendleton blankets, Beacon blankets, Mexican pottery from the ‘20s to the ‘40s, Monterey-style furniture, Aspen wood lamps.

UMBRELLO, 8607 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 655-6447. Owner DeWayne Youts fills his showroom with colorful, artist-designed furniture, Southwest furnishings, antiques and reproductions plus playful-looking cowboy furniture and dinnerware.