STYLE : Interiors : Country Comfort
Country life has always held great appeal, especially for city dwellers. Inspired by the cottages of the East Coast and her own “collecting spirit,” West Los Angeles construction and design consultant Debra Jones found the best of both worlds by redesigning her home.
Built in the mid-'50s, the ugly-duckling Brentwood tract house had already gone through two transformations, one supervised by Jones’ mother, interior designer Carolynn Kinner. When Kinner bought the one-story house, it had a “Hawaiian-Oriental” exterior with a rock roof, a Chinese-red front door, Oriental window screens and bonsai plants in the yard. After Kinner was done, it resembled a rustic mountain lodge, with a second story and a turret. She lavished the interior with natural-colored wood floors, walls and ceilings; a river-rock fireplace; a red flagstone entry; deer heads, and cowboy furniture.
Jones, who purchased the house from her mother four years ago, had her own ideas. Influenced by her in-laws’ summer home in Hyannis Port, Mass., with its layers of family treasures and slipper-like comfort, she set out to re-create an East Coast cottage in the West. She whitewashed the red cedar walls and fir ceilings, added board-and-batten siding, covered floors with sisal and area rugs and slipcovered the furniture. She surrounded the house with a white picket fence, planted roses and installed a Dutch door to open the view. The final touch: her Blue Willow china, ceramic Staffordshire dogs, cow paintings, whirligigs and weather vanes. Says Jones: “My mom’s house looked like the Adirondacks; mine looks like the Cape.”
What sets this home apart from slickly commercial interpretations of the country look is the handed-down quality of its decoration and furnishings. Which is why, Jones speculates, the country cottage look is not more popular in Southern California: “The average person wants an ‘instant room’ and the house to be done now . But you can’t just go out and buy ‘instant country.’ ”