Text by Cindy Cooper
Having been in the construction business for more than 30 years in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California, Tom and Mary Rose Courtney decided the time had come to build their own home. The couple worked with architect Bob Leese to create a design that was not only unique but also had a traditional feel. The Courtneys were also influenced by one of the South’s premier architects, A. Hays Town, who was famous for his use of salvaged building materials like antique elements and aged wood, and the couple began to gather the historical finds needed to make the project a reality.
A New Orleans-style French influence is apparent in the Courtneys’ design for the home’s exterior entry, featuring a welcoming front porch arch, gas lights, and brick details. Upon entry, the hallway opens to a stairway leading to the second level where all of the bedrooms reside. With just over 4,000 square feet, the home’s floor space is equally shared between the bedrooms and other living spaces.
The living room, with its 13-foot ceilings, shuttered French doors, and archways, feels more like a sunroom than a formal living area. The wood doors and ceiling details are made of Douglas fir, including the fireplace with its hand-carved medallions. The library features beautiful walnut paneling and includes a Murphy bed to accommodate guests. Using a French-country style for the interiors with an eclectic mix, Mary Rose knew she wanted to include furniture she had treasured for years. She updated the upholstery and added new pillows to some pieces while placing antiques here and there, like a French writing desk, custom buffets, and credenzas that look like antiques.
The informal dining room features a round table for daily dinner and two custom-made stained glass windows, which were designed using historic references by the owners. A small adjoining family room provides a cozy area to visit with family or guests.
With a blue-green hue, the kitchen cabinetry was handcrafted for a classic warm and ageless appeal. Reminiscent of Acadian style, the backsplash consists of French tile adding warmth and complementing the coral-colored walls and décor in the dining room. The countertops are Michelangelo marble, which features tones of blue winding through the natural pattern. The cabinetry in the kitchen area and family room and the hutch in the dining room were all handcrafted by a local company, Expression in Wood.
Outside are comfortable areas to relax and entertain with dark rattan furnishings accented with black-and-blue patterned pillows. The back of the home provides a restful outdoor room arranged with plush furniture in light gold upholstery. Garden landscaping continues the home’s classic style with inspiration from New Orleans, but the plants were carefully chosen to adjust to the climate in Southern California where they need to be drought tolerant. The garden is filled with plants like magnolias, azaleas, banana trees, and crepe myrtles, and the design also includes a pool bath behind the cabana, which is a classically designed structure.
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