When an adventurous, longtime client purchased another house to stable her horses in rural Oregon, she tapped designer John Thompson to help channel her adventurous spirit. Through bright colors and eclectic patterns, Thompson brought out his client's fun-loving personality, and he remodeled the outdated farmhouse into a stylish, functional property that would meet her needs. Read on to tour the chic, Southwestern home.
In search of another rural property near Portland to stable her horses, the client had fallen for a ranch house that required significant remodeling, but she believed that the home was worth saving. Thompson had previously designed for her, and since this tackling this particular house, they have begun working together again. “Her original art and her desire for color and pattern mixed all over made this project a fun, Western adventure,” says Thompson.
She took an active role in the direction of the design, which resulted in a creative, mutually beneficial partnership. Early on in the design process, she found a pair of beautiful, vintage columns in New Mexico. Thompson selected Pratt and Larson tiles in bohemian shades like sand, turquoise, and rust to lay on the floor surrounding the columns. As she traveled the Southwest, the designer shopped at the Seattle Design Center, discovering products that would suit the eclectic country farmhouse they were creating together.
The structure of the home was flawed: the stairs were crooked, and the sunken living room was incompatible with the client’s lifestyle. A variety of DIY projects had been begun by the previous owner and never finished. Thompson started revamping the property by creating a large dining area and a storage room for the client’s projects. He tore out the fireplace, raised the sunken floor, and added new windows. He raised the roof on top of the landing to make room for sliding glass doors that would lead out to the upstairs deck. Outside the realm of the main house, he also remodeled the barn with the help of an equestrian architectural specialist — on rainy days, the horses would end up standing in water. Finally, he tore down the horse arena and built a second garage for the property.
For the decoration, Thompson relied on bold patterns and colors. “Both my client and I love patterns, especially strong graphics and colour,” he says. “There was never any fear of colour or pattern.” However, although the color would certainly be eclectic, it had to be matched with a discerning eye and careful craftsmanship to avoid straying into the aesthetic of a theme park, as Thompson notes. He began the color palette with a paisley print from Clarence House. Artfully, he paired the paisley with soft greens, peaches, corals, and apricots, and left the walls and hard surfaces in neutral tones and soft pastels. “Colors and patterns are like a puzzle — I simply understand how it all connects,” he says. One of Thompson’s skills is that he understands how to create order from chaos. For example, after the original tile setter quit, the designer wrapped the handmade tiles with saran wrap and cardboard, numbering them with a marker so that the new setter would know where to place each tile on the floor surrounding the columns. He says, "In the end, I just knew that it all worked."
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