4 Jun 2014

Libbey Ranch, Ojai CA - Two Careful Lady Owners

There was no blonde moment when it came to interior designer Kristen Buckingham's design brief for the Legally Blonde's Libbey Ranch interiors in Ojai Valley, California. To begin with, Reese Witherspoon's (now former) property was none of the MTV Crib usual suspects associated with sleek glossy museum/ mausoleum sobriety, or ostentatious mountain-top tasteless mammoth show-off. Chez Reese was about authenticity, personality and lifestyle-friendly living (understand kids, pets and no make-up welcome!), a house made to be lived in and enjoyed as.

The canvas to the brief was a stunning Spanish Colonial Revival property with oodles of style, designed by Wallace Neff, originally as a barn (later transformed into a home by Austen Pierpoint), and showcasing strong period character, typical of the 1920s golden age Californian estates, packed-full with original features as striking as the wooden ceilings and floors, monumental fireplaces, wrought-iron railing, living room chandelier (both from the estate's forge), Juliet balcony, plaster walls, and built-in bed and alcoves, not to mention the outer buildings and gardens. The canvas was preserved as a heritage testimony and the designer could focus mainly on furnishing it.

Previously owned by Interior Designer and Million Dollar Decorator Kathryn M. Ireland, Libbey Ranch had already had the feminine treatment, with a streak of colour and motif running through the hacienda like an electrified symphony, a feast of rich textured fabrics, each adding a pinch of pimiento to la salsa and creating a vibrancy akin to a Mexican fiesta.

Kristen Buckingham echoed the vibrancy spearheaded by her design predecessor. Hand-picked antique Swedish furniture pieces, and rustic, Mediterranean, retro/ vintage artefacts jazzed up the eclectic shindig and accented long-lasting interest. It seems that every object had a fascinating story to tell... and that time was almost suspended and allowed to develop a soft patina like a wine made to age develops that soft aroma with time. Libbey Ranch is built for lifelong family living. Reese put it up for sale (for a reduced asking price even!) a mere five years after she bought it, and almost before we could catch our breath and time could work its magic patina.

Further Ojai-influenced inspiration, gleaned mostly from Kathryn M. Ireland's time at Libbey Ranch and from her current Santa Monica residence:

Sources: (1) to (3) 'Charmed Circle: Reese Witherspoon's Ojai Home', via Elle Decor (September 2012 issue), photography by William Waldron. (4) and (5) 'Kathryn Ireland's Bold and Bright Ojai Home', via House Beautiful. (and Cote de Texas (4) and (5) for higher resolution, as featured here). (6) 'Kathryn M. Ireland Lookbook' - Textile Talk, via Coastal Living. (7) and (8) 'Gain Access to A Million Dollar Decorator's Super-Chic Santa Monica Pad!', via Refinery29.

Further Reading: Hooked on Houses and Cote de Texas.

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