This vintage Italian ceramic umbrella stand is my friend Cari’s latest “score,” perhaps one of her best after 30 years of thrifting. “I call it ‘my illness,’” she says. The owl, which Cari found at a local Goodwill, is about two feet tall and in near-perfect condition. Although Cari is a relatively private person, she generously let me share what she has created with some of her other “finds,” both inside and outside her home.
Cari and her family have lived in this home for about two years. If you live on the east coast, or in Europe or a place with real history, this casual French Normandy from the ’40s might not seem that impressive. But for California, this house has character and charm that’s coveted out here.
Let’s start inside. Even though the gardens were bursting with spring flowers and plants, I couldn’t help but burst inside Cari’s home first to check out her latest acquisitions. Cari leans toward mid-century (way before it was so hip) and Hollywood Regency (hip to be), and has incorporated many beloved family pieces, mainly from her two grandmothers.
(She had these chairs–$50 for the pair from a thrift store–re-upholstered in this rad giant hounds’ tooth pattern.)
Cari is a lifelong southern Californian, with roots that go back several generations–again, an oddity among many of the transient residents around here. She has such an appreciation for her childhood memories, and has created a warm and vibrant home. Cari, who was a good sport to let me shoot her home with little notice, prefers a comfortable, lived-in atmosphere. Nothing was “styled” for these photos.
Sweet peas and family photos by a corner window in the living room.
Here’s a shot of the living room. There’s a large fireplace over to the left. Cari had these unique slipper chairs, which were her great-grandmother’s, re-upholstered in Ikat fabric. Her family has explicit instructions to “save these first” in case of a fire. A talented seamstress, she made the couch pillows. You also can see some of her collections of California and other MCM pottery on the shelves in the background.
Cari has a keen sense of how to use bold lines and pieces, along with warm color and cool accents. She has a great eye and is scrappy. She’s proud to tell you, with a giggle, that she bought these candle holders from T.J. Max. And the mirror from another discount store called Tuesday Mornings. Why pay more?
This is one of her collections of California pottery, called Bishop California Ceramics. Although she researched the Internet, asked vendors at flea markets and even questioned various shop owners in Bishop, she has found out little about the studio. If you know anything more, she would love to know.
I have never liked gold or gilded things, until I met Cari. Now I get it. These pieces are by Sascha Brastoff. The tall vase was her grandmother’s. The votives Cari found on E-bay.
California quail, made of porceline, were her grandmother’s. I might have to steal these.
This candelabra is classic Hollywood Regency, from her “grandma,” and works well in front of one of Cari’s paintings. Yes, she also paints–and quite well, I might add. You can see how her artist’s eye and pallet play out in her design vignettes and garden plantings.
Let’s step back out front. Cari made this mosaic birdbath out of “old Ikea plates.”
I mentioned that her bird bath was kind of dirty and filled with algae (We’re buds so I can tell her things like that), and she just laughed and said that she kind of liked it that way.
About half of the garden–”the bones”–was already established, but Cari has revived it with her own editing and plantings. Although Cari said she probably would not have picked these dual colered iris, she says she likes them now, and is on the look-out for a black iris to add to the mix.
Having grown up in the Midwest, nothing strikes me as more old-fashioned in a garden than iris.
Overall, the garden is pretty classic English style, and not quite with it yet on the water conservation. Cari, who usually gravitates to more water-wise plants, says she only uses what the plants need since there is no watering system and she does all the watering by hand.
What a treat to see the foxgloves.
and sweet peas…
and the giant beds of Watsonia.
These carnations are everywhere. Again, Cari said she would not have picked these pink flowers, but loves the light teal stem and leaf color.
What makes the garden is the mix of cottage-style flowers, along with bold succulents and ferns and the relatively ancient camellia and hydrangea bushes.
This is one of Cari’s biggest fans, a gorgeous neighborhood cat named Tiggi, who has adopted Cari and several other families. (Cari made one of these succulent wreaths years ago, way before they were so trendy. Just want to brag a little for her. She’s way ahead of–or happily behind–her time!)
I knew you wanted back inside that house! This is just inside her front door.
Again, mostly family heirlooms and collectibles.
This is a little sitting room between the kitchen and dining room. The paintings are by Cari. Such great lines, textures and bold, warm colors.
This is her daughter’s vintage shoe collection. Wonder where she got her sense of style?
Another outrageous Hollywood Regency lamp,
which Cari enhanced by adding turquoise balls from a vintage necklace.
Just a peek in one of the bathrooms to admire the hexagonal vintage tile.
Now to the heavily shaded and narrow backyard. More “finds” and family pieces.
This is an epiphyllum that I happened to have given her several years ago as a cutting.
I love how the spent blooms have their own beauty.
Everywhere you look–inside looking out, outside looking in–sheer loveliness!!!
This plant was one of her grandmother’s, who lived to be 96 and passed away within the last couple years.
This is a sweet little courtyard off the side of house.
These succulents are in large ceramic pots–we’re guessing the ’60s?–that were her grandmothers.
If you love pottery, you must be drooling, like me!
I love how Cari planted baby agave plants in these pots–which when unrestrained can grow to the size of a small car–where they are stunted.
I could literally go on endlessly finding new little treasures in both the inside and outside of Cari’s home. Like this smart little kitty, I will just have to keep hanging around to see what happens next around here! We can only hope Cari never gets “better.”
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