From the outside, the stately “Bolton House” on Sonoma Avenue, with its wraparound porch, two-story belvedere and hexagonal turret, looks much the same as it did when it was first built in 1903.
But inside is a Queen Anne of a different color. Think shades of playful pinks, greens and gradations of gray. Traditional antique pieces share space with cutting-edge contemporary.
Since May, interior designer Natasha Stocker has been busily injecting into this historic home in downtown Santa Rosa what she calls “a breath of electrifying, inspiring air.”
She is creating a permanent designer showcase that will serve both as offices for her Inspired Designs, and a place in which to feature, in a natural, home-like setting, local materials and the work of all local cabinet makers, electricians, contractors, artists, furniture makers and other artisans.
“It is a true home showcase,” she said.
“But instead of a one per year tour, we are open seven days a week.”
She is filling it with her favorite things: bold statement chandeliers, daring wall covers — note the gilded gold-leaf pattern in the bathroom — encaustic cement tiles in smart designs by Villa Lagoon.
Not for everyone
She knows her look isn’t for everyone, but she’s content to appeal to “those who are a little bit edgy and a bit quirky, who want something chic and different but still affordable, and who aren’t afraid of some artistic boldness,” said Stocker, who describes her style as “eclectic with a young, fresh twist.”
She plans a grand opening on Nov. 14 but hopes to have a soft-opening by the end of the month.
Stocker and her three employees were working out of a 120-square-foot home office when she had the bright idea of buying and renovating an older house to serve as a permanent design showcase for her work as well as the many local artists and artisans she has discovered over the years.
It wasn’t such a crazy idea for Stocker. At 34, she is already an experienced renovator. She and her husband, Eric, are comfortably ensconced in their third home.
When they bought it, the house was a dank 1963 rancher in lower Fountaingrove that they scored during the market downturn four years ago and set about remodeling with thrifty ingenuity and sweat equity.
They similarly upcycled two homes before that.
She partnered with her father, Ted Boutacoff, an engineer who has undertaken many DIY remodeling projects himself, and went in search of the perfect house.
“I love historical architecture and places that have a soul,” said Stocker, who got her degree in fine art and painting from UC Davis before studying interior design.
“I set out to find an old home that was commercially zoned.”
It proved more difficult that she anticipated.
When they failed to find a suitable house for sale they started looking at rentals but again weren’t wowed by any of them.
But on a whim one day, she gathered up her three assistants and told them she wanted to just drive by her “dream house,” even though the rent was double what they had budgeted.
“Our jaws were on the floor. It was love at first sight. The moldings, the coved ceilings, the original curved windows, the beautiful banister. It needed loads of work but it was a true diamond in the rough,” she recalled of that first agent tour of the house.
Makes 10 to 12
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4½ ounces (½ cup plus 1 tablespoon) butter, chilled and cut into large cubes
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
½ cup heavy cream (see Note below), plus more for brushing the dough
Put the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and salt into the work bowl of a food processor or a medium bowl. Add the butter and pulse several times, or use a pastry cutter, and work until it’s the consistency of coarse cornmeal. Refrigerate until well chilled; overnight is ideal.
To finish the biscuits, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Put the flour mixture into a medium mixing bowl and make a well in the center.
Working quickly, combine the buttermilk and heavy cream and pour the mixture into the center of the flour mixture. Stir gently with a fork until the dough just comes together; do not overwork.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it gently until it forms a smooth disk; do not overwork it. Pat the dough until it is about 1-inch thick and cut into 10 to 12 equal pieces. Brush with cream, transfer to a baking sheet, set on the middle rack of the oven and bake until the biscuits are golden brown, 12 to 20 minutes, depending on their thickness.
Note: You can use all buttermilk or substitute ½ cup sweet potato puree for the cream.