Designer creating showroom in Santa Rosa Victorian
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.
The mansion was designed by Brainerd Jones, Petaluma’s preeminent architect, who also did notable building in Santa Rosa, like the Dutch-roofed Comstock House and The Belevedere, both on Mendocino Avenue.
“It was love at first sight. Built for real estate investor Walter Bolton, the house by the 1960s was purchased by architect Thomas Fruiht for offices for he and his partner Thomas Tomasi.
It eventually was gifted to the Sonoma Land Trust, which used it for offices.
But the nonprofit outgrew the space. Still, the trust was relucatnt to sell it, until Stocker came along with her vision for a design house showcasing local art and talent. After numerous meetings a deal was struck.
“We launched into removing the layers of paint and wallboard that had been added over the years to bring it back to its former glory - with a twist,” she said.
Stocker likes to try new things with old ideas. For her office, for instance, she installed old-fashioned tin ceiling tiles but then painted them a moody black.
Floral wallpapers were popular more than 100 years ago. Stocker updates the look with an over-scale floral print on an inky background.
Other surprise pops include antique seating reupholstered in fuchsia and orange.
With so many shabby chic and Wine Country rustic looks out there, she says she’s striving to do something a little daring and different, a look that will appeal to those with a bit of edge to their tastes.