From Stickley to Sticks

tradition meets whimsy in a contemporary Jacksonville home
The quilts on the Stickley bed in the master bedroom were made by Don DeWald's mother.

Don and Linda DeWald had envisioned retiring to a Spanish Revival house somewhere near San Jose, Calif. But when they set their eyes on a 2003 Arts and Crafts home in Jacksonville's Nunan Square in 2008, a love affair blossomed.

The first thing that made them swoon was the home's exterior details. Swiss-influenced, front-facing gables and window boxes provide Linda with plenty of outdoor areas to decorate. The pagoda-like, upswept gable peaks and extended facia boards remind the couple of their travels in Japan.

Folksy furniture for artsy accents

By Jennifer Strange

Sticks furniture is custom-crafted in Des Moines, Iowa, from birch, poplar and other hardwoods. A little company that started with a lady making her own furniture, Sticks has become a hallmark of homeowners who are drawn to whimsical, one-of-a-kind pieces.

That's why Don and Linda DeWald chose several Sticks items as accents in their Jacksonville Arts and Crafts home — the nesting tables and trunks pair perfectly with the couple's darker, heavier Stickley and Ethan Allen furniture, while adding folksy fun to an eclectic art collection.

"These wonderful, handcrafted, solid birchwood pieces are very wholesome and high quality," explains Danna Tartaglia, manager of Carefree Buffalo in Jacksonville. The store is Southern Oregon's exclusive dealer of Sticks products.

"Every piece is commercial quality, sealed with a protective finish and UV-coated to prevent fading."

Shoppers can choose from existing Sticks pieces or create their own custom items. On display at Carefree Buffalo are tree-trunk lamps with painted shades, a patterned dining set, mirrors, side tables, trunks and the ever-popular candlesticks and lazy Susans. All feature the Sticks signature blend of color, craftsmanship and artistry. Most furniture pieces also have positive phrases painted along the edges, such as "follow your heart," "cherish family" and "go out for adventure, come home for love."

Custom pieces may include personal phrases, decorations and images of pets, people, places and important memories. Artists use photographs from the client to replicate these ideas on the pieces.

"You can look and see what kind of colors you like," says Tartaglia. "There's everything from very bright, gaily colored pieces to very softly tinted wood stains."

Heirloom furniture that's built to be passed down for generations, Sticks pieces are a blend of fun and functionality that suit most any decor.

Proximity to downtown and Nunan Square's sense of community sealed the deal. The house is in an "urban infill" development designed to comply with National Historic Landmark requirements, which means the grand houses are built close together, and everything is pedestrian-friendly, with shared parks and green spaces.

"What brought us to the house was a lifestyle choice," says Linda. "The people here are very friendly and like to socialize. And our hobby is entertaining."

So having a front entry was a high priority. Oak floors, sunny yellow walls and bright, white trim show off the home's color palette. A closet is specially designed for coats, bags and hats, while visual senses are enlivened by a hanging, hand-tied silk Turkish rug and the first glimpses of the couple's extensive collection of pottery and art glass.

"Guests can take a deep breath and we can greet them one by one before entering the community area of the house," says Linda.

Drinks and nibbles are often served from the kitchen's granite countertop. A honey-hued stain enriches oak cabinets with keyhole kick-plate detailing, and a walk-in pantry outfitted by Don stores cookbooks, wine, bowls, baskets, pots and pans, which hang from commercial gridwork attached to one wall.

A hutch displays ceramics by California artist David Guerney, and decorations atop upper cabinets were fashioned by Jacksonville artist Donna Sherbourne. A small table is perfect for breakfast, intimate dinners and card games.

A front hall with two white columns creates definition between the kitchen and dining and living areas. Designed by Harvey Ellis for Stickley, the Mission-style dining table can be extended to seat 12. Its Arts and Crafts-inspired corner inlays are repeated on the nearby china hutch. An original oil painting of Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, Calif., graces one wall, while a German cuckoo clock and Mexican butterfly and sunflower sculpture tell tales of travel. The colorful rug was handcrafted using natural dyes near Oaxaca, Mexico, where the DeWalds once attended a cooking school.

An alcove on the north wall houses a burgundy Avalon gas stove with glass sides for easy viewing from both the dining table and adjacent living room. Three custom nesting tables by Sticks and three landscape paintings indicate the couple's interest in natural arts.

"We like native, ethnic, natural and modern crafts — anything artistic works well in an Arts and Crafts home," says Don, who spearheaded much of the couple's research into furnishings and decor. "We didn't want to do anything out of touch with the locale."

A first-floor bath provides convenience for overnight guests using the living room's Stickley sofa bed. Near the bath is a utility basement that Don fit with a metal grid system as a storage solution for holiday and Chinese New Year decorations.

At the top of the bright stairwell is the home's ancillary unit and master suite. Now called the "man cave," the unit is a fully functional, separate living space with lounging area, kitchenette, guest room and bath.

Don's computer is set up in the living area, which doubles as home theater for the couple's neighborhood movie nights. More than 550 DVDs are stored in a custom case, designed by Don to resemble furniture. He also designed the floor-to-ceiling, beadboard-backed bookcases in the guest room, where shelves were built specifically to house Don and Linda's book collection.

"We always try to think about what's important to us and keep those things in view so they remind us of what we love," says Linda, noting a displayed art book about Antoni Gaudi and a pair of books about Kyoto, Japan.

Linda's craft room is her retreat. With its cushy chair, television, computer, large table and shelves of project cases, the room is a fertile space for creativity. Augie, the couple's Schnauzer, has his own "breakfast room" in the nearby laundry.

A hallway becomes both master bath and entry to the master suite, with a double vanity and access to a walk-in closet on one side and door into the bathroom and private water closet on the other. Linda, whose paper-crafted kimono decorates the vanity area, loves the view of the Siskiyou Mountains foothills from her clawfoot soaking tub.

Jewel tones and rich wood make the bedroom cozy. Turkish and Oaxacan rugs warm the white carpet, a graphic quilt made by Don's mother is spread over the Stickley bed and a Sticks trunk brings in whimsy, as do the mismatched bedside lamps — one alabaster, one Tiffany-style.

"Everything in our house has some feeling to it," Linda says. "Most of it is not decorator-inspired; it's from us."

Creating a personal, artistic space is how the DeWalds express their love for each other, their home, their guests and their new community.

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