Like its namesake across the Atlantic, the city of Westminster is jolly full of signs of merrie olde England. There's a replica of Big Ben outside the Civic Center; many street signs are painted in Old English letters; streets have names such as Charing Cross Road, Piccadilly Circus, Kings Cross Road and Suffolk Street.
And some homes, such as Dana Wade's, are decorated in the style of English country homes.
Wade, 35, bought her two-story home on Baker Street a year ago and soon began making $50,000 worth of changes to create an Anglophile's fantasy.
A visitor's first impression of the 2,400-square-foot condo comes from a small brick courtyard decorated with colorful impatiens, trellised vines and miniature ceramic animals. The interior design of the three-bedroom home continues the English theme.
Wade added architectural details to give the 24-year-old condo a centuries-old feeling--rounded archways, crown moldings, beveled-glass windows and herringbone wood floors. She also had a door sealed off to enlarge the kitchen and, in the living room, sliding windows replaced with French doors to give the downstairs a more open feeling.
"I really didn't start out to make that many changes," Wade says. "Originally, I was just going to do a few things. But. . . ."
She also had a trompe l'oeil artist paint flowers typical of an English garden over the entrance to the kitchen and on a wall in an upstairs bedroom.
"I moved here from my mother's house, who lives nearby," says Wade, whose love of European decor comes from her mother. "She has a traditional house with a country French decor that I liked. This is my first house, so it was fun to decorate it the way I wanted to."
She studied layouts in magazines, then set forth making design decisions.
She chose green carpeting for several rooms because "it's the color of grass," she says. "Green had always been my favorite color, so I used that a lot."
The small study adjacent to the front patio could be a room out of a Beatrix Potter book. It has lime sherbet-colored walls and cozy, overstuffed couches with cabbage-rose upholstery.
Incorporated in the decor is furniture painted by Laguna Beach artist Carole Matwood. Trays and tables are painted with rabbits, cats, birds and badgers.
Matwood was known locally for her large oil paintings of wildlife, when, at the height of her career in the early 1980s, she gave up painting "to go on a spiritual quest."
"I just dropped out and didn't paint anything," she says.
She returned to the art world recently, now dedicating her time to painting furniture and smaller-framed works.
"This is a different kind of art for me since I came from a fine art and craft background. But I love it," she says of her furniture paintings.
Displayed in Wade's home is also a collection of more than 100 Bunnies by the Bay--stuffed animals--from the Vintage Rose in Westminster, an old house turned into a shop that has everything for an English country style house, including clothes, books, furniture and accessories.
"I bought one bunny just because it was dark green, then I fell in love with them, and they started multiplying," she says. "They add to the fantasy-romantic elements of the house."
The Vintage Rose in Westminster will hold a holiday open house Nov. 29-Dec. 2, featuring new works by artist Carole Matwood. There will also be a tea Sunday from noon to 3 p.m., for which reservations are required. $20. Call (714) 373-4547 for information.