A Lighthearted Transformation
Playful decorative accents and patriotic flourishes renew a 1920s Spanish-style home in Southern California
Assertive primary colors and flag-inspired fabrics stand out against a clean backdrop in Janice McCarty’s living room. Stippled stars embelish the fireplace’s aluminum mantel and scalloped hood ans well as a whimsical lanpshade. “I couldn’t resist dangling the beads just for fun,” Janice admits. A forlorn vintage trunk didn’t escape her imaginative touch: By creating a crackled effect with purplish-blue paint and adding tin ornaments and silver-hued legs, she transformed the piece into ta fanciful coffee table.
When I decorate, I love to create vignettes that blend everything from Mexican mementos and salvaged antiques to modern found objects — even high-tech pieces,” says homeowner Janice McCarty. A gifted clothing designer, Janice brings into her interiors the same sense of whimsy and play that is the hallmark of her work in fashion. She dresses up timeworn chairs with ruffles and stripes and renews neglected furnishings with imaginative spongework and stippling, never missing an opportunity to add a wooden star here, a flash of patina there. “Just as I update old-fashioned clothing,” the designer says, “I try to bring the past into the present in my home.”
Janice rubbed the kitchen cabinets’ paneled doors with purplish-blue paint, then appliquéd them with eggshell-white wooden stars. Light fixtures fashhioned from car-engine parts interject an unexpected salute to 20th-century technology. Porcelain birds, a gift from Janice’s grandmother, perch in the spice rack. From the patterned dishware to barstool upholstery made from remnants of tattered quilts, the overall effect is one of individuality, harmony, and energy.
After rescuing a deteriorating table from her grandparents’ basement in San Francisco, Janice rejuvenated the Mission-style piece with paint and tiles left over from the kitchen renovation. She designed the large-scale Mexican-style straight-back chairs and the Adirondack-inspired storage bench, embellishing them all with her signature stars. To heighten its sheen, a tin light fixture received a coat of automobile paint. A Mexican hutch stocks teacups offered by guests as housewarming gifts. “I think of a different friend each time I look inside,” Janice says.
Just as I update old-fashioned clothing, I try to bring the past into the present in my home.
“I had fun with paint, then counted on my wooden appliqués and Mexican tinware to bring a sense of play into the bedroom,” Janice explains. Spongework, antique drawer knobs, and clever use of color did wonders for a once-nondescript pine bureau. Eggshell-white and patina-green paint spruce up the tired metal bed frame; a crocheted coverlet provides comforting texture and appealing graphic pattern. Twenty-year-old wooden rabbits, painted to match the furnishings, join a cherub in overseeing the peaceful room.
“Rayon drapes beautifully, which is why I used it for the bed’s canopy,” Janice says. She hand-stitched dthe pillowcases from vintage tea towels; one depicts Mount Rushmore. The perfect condition of the tramp-art frames, unearthed at a swap meet, leads Janice to suspect that these could be recent creations.