Stately and elegant with a touch of whimsy, Pam and Rich Larsen's French-inspired house in north Ashland exudes a tasteful blend of classic design and personal touches.
"The home had the number of bedrooms (three) and bathrooms (2.5) we needed, and it was new, which can be hard to find in Ashland," says Rich Larsen of the house they moved into in 2008. "We love the high ceilings and arches that give it an Old-World manor feel."
To decorate the 2,850-square-foot house, which had stood vacant for more than a year, they called Jerry Atnip, owner of Atnip Company Interiors in Ashland. Atnip had decorated two of the Larsens' previous homes in California.
"It's eclectic but has a European flair," Atnip says of the home's décor. He used the couple's rich assemblage of furniture, global art and collectibles then hand-picked a few new pieces.
First, Atnip installed shutters on the home's clay-colored exterior — a classic accent the Larsens have never done without. Topiaries flank the front door, which opens into a grand entry with 18-foot ceilings.
Cherry hardwood underlines the soaring entry, inviting guests into the formal dining room to the left. A heavy, round table and six luxuriously upholstered chairs sit atop an Asian carpet; a simple, contemporary hutch stands to the side. An etched vintage mirror reflects a low-hanging chandelier, and a marble-topped side table that once belonged to Pam's paternal grandfather adds heritage.
"It's a very comfortable place for a dining room, with easy access to the kitchen," says Rich, referring to a pass-through in the room's far corner.
The Larsens' open kitchen features cherry cabinets topped with speckled, tan and black granite. Stainless-steel appliances add sleekness.
"We did the farm-table island in the center of the kitchen, topped with a butcher block," says Pam, who'd seen something similar in a catalog. She passed the photo onto Atnip, who brought in cabinetmaker Ross Nordquist to help engineer the island.
"It gives a little depth and personality in the kitchen," Rich says. "We use it as a buffet for entertaining, and Ross helped figure how we could put the wine rack on both sides, which was important to me."
An expansive pantry between kitchen and dining room delivers convenience and storage.
The great room is accessed from the kitchen or an entry way. A gold-and-green, vine-patterned rug grounds an informal eating nook, where mismatched chairs offer design whimsy. Tucked under a custom sideboard are three tiny, wooden, children's chairs contributed by Atnip.
The living room is carpeted in plush neutral Berber. Visual separation between the living and eating areas is created with a burnt-orange loveseat, positioned with its back to the entry. A large, stone fireplace faces the loveseat, lending a focal point and sense of warmth. Over the mantel hangs a piece of copper-and-orange abstract art. Recessed lighting and a ceiling fan draw attention to the room's vertical space, accented with white crown molding against creamy colored walls. Wooden slat blinds cover tall windows and eyebrow windows that flank the fireplace, and a small door leads to a side yard.
Upholstered in rust, teal and white, a wingback chair sits next to a narrow table, anchoring a small gallery of wall art, all matted in white with dark frames. A diagonally placed chaise longue and easy chair offer more seating.
The Larsens' master suite — to the right off the entry — exhibits an Asian flair. A large black hutch adorns one wall, its Eastern lines echoed in two bedside tables. Gray, green and black linens dress the bed, and a duet of pictures by visionary artist Shoshanah Dubiner hang over its upholstered headboard.
Comfort and familiarity define the upstairs library-cum-media room, where a wall of bookshelves custom-made by David Milbrandt of Ashland hold a lifetime of tomes and photos.
"Our books are very important to us as teachers and travelers ... they contain lots of personal memories," says Pam.
Two second-story guest rooms and a full bath offer shelter for the Larsens' adult children, who visit often. The room designed for their daughter displays a map of Paris ("our entire family's favorite city," says Rich), an antique rocker inherited from Rich's father and a graphic quilt.
Brown, black and cream fabrics set the tone for the other guest room, where Alaskan art is the primary décor scheme.
"Much of the art we got from Jill Haines, whose husband (John Haines) was the 2002 poet laureate of Alaska," says Rich. "We have one of his poems about Che Guevara in the eating nook downstairs."
The Larsens appreciate the home's built-in sense of privacy, which makes gracious entertaining easy. Combined with Atnip's tasteful décor decisions and the couple's own legacy of travel, family and warmth, the equation adds up to an elegant place to tend memories — from the past and yet to come.