"I love old houses, and Rick loves new houses so we built an old house with modern stuff," says Sharon Schaefer of the 5,000-square-foot, seven-bedroom, five-bath, Tudor-inspired home she and her husband, Rick, built on a scenic slope east of Medford in 1984.
Perched amid grazing cattle, chicken coops and the couple's working orchard of peaches, cherries, pears and grapes, the home is a blend of classic design and family-friendly functionality. And no wonder — the Schaefers finished raising their blended family of seven boys and took care of Rick's mother for 20 years in this multi-generational house.
By Jennifer Strange
You can give a room or an entire home a new look by changing how artwork, collectibles and furniture are displayed, says Cheryl Von Tress, of Cheryl Von Tress Design in Jacksonville, who applied the principle to the Medford home of Sharon and Rick Schaefer. Following are some of her tips:
The Schaefers love watercolors by local artists. "How art is hung makes a big difference," Von Tress says. "Placed differently and strategically against the new faux finish made the Schaefers' art more visible."
"If you do things well, you can make disparate accessories work," says Von Tress, who brought attention to Sharon's glass-front buffet by adding decorative additions on top and a single dining chair to each side. "Placing a single art piece above each chair and then a single piece of art above the buffet gives you the magic threes: three pieces of furniture, three pieces of art, all broken up with a couple accents on the top of the buffet." Especially attractive is how the vertical rails on the backs of the chairs pull the eye up to the art.
Luxe couture fabric can transform furniture into art. For the Schaefer home, Von Tress chose Joseph Abboud for Kravet Couture fabric for the armchairs, which features a needlepoint design on the back. "It was a bold design move, with wonderful, rich, rosy-red florals set into a medallion-trellis pattern," says Von Tress, who sourced materials through Ben Thompson at Thompson Upholstery in Medford.
To honor the simplicity of the small, vertically oriented dining chairs, Von Tress opted for a stripe that reflected the chair rails.
In each case, the designer based fabric choices on the Schaefers' medium-toned oak floors and rich, deep, walnut and mahogany tones of their furniture.
"Sharon really uses her home," says Von Tress. "It's not a showplace, it's a beautiful family home where people live and enjoy themselves. And showing off their many beautiful things to the best advantage adds even more enjoyment."
"All our boys live in the Rogue Valley except one who lives in Portland, and they all keep coming back," says Sharon. "All the holidays are celebrated here. Since I like to cook and they like to eat, it all works out. It really is a family house."
The couple's primary design directives were a "perfect kitchen and lots of rooms," says Sharon. She made sure the "heart of the home" (a huge, casual cook's kitchen with adjacent family/TV room) is smack in the middle of the house, with a guest suite, powder room, mud room and Rick's study rounding out the main floor. Upstairs are the master suite, several bedrooms with names like the Wild Duck Room and The Little Bedroom, each with a nearby bath.
The Schaefers also insisted upon energy-efficient appliances, insulation and alternative heating systems, such as the centrally located wood stove that heats the whole house.
"It's on 12 acres, so we have a huge garden and a vineyard," Sharon says. "Rick makes his own Tudor Oaks Farm wine and beer, and we eat the preserved fruits and vegetables all year long."
Three years ago, Sharon and Rick decided to "brighten and update" the most dramatic portion of their Tudor manor: its two-story grand entry, living room and dining room. They'd lived with an all-white palette for more than two decades and Sharon was ready for some color. Cheryl Von Tress, of Cheryl Von Tress Design in Jacksonville, was called in to start on the dining room.
"Usually I would suggest a smooth plaster for walls like these, but I felt they needed to be aged so the furniture fit the rooms," says the designer. Painter John Safay of Ashland "rendered" the walls, adding stress cracks near windows and applying a faux finish.
"Wow, it just transformed that room," recalls Von Tress. "They later added a chandelier, and after that we did little stress cracks around the medallion."
"The dining room looks Tuscan," Sharon says. "I wanted it to feel cozy, and it does."
Curio cabinets full of found treasures and an intricately carved hunter's cabinet the couple bought at an auction in Grants Pass in 1981 surround an expandable wooden table and recently reupholstered chairs. The space, set conveniently with a beverage station, is regularly used for family gatherings and Sharon's writers' group.
The Schaefers liked the effect so much that they and Von Tress applied similar decorating techniques to the living room and entry. Sharon had recently reupholstered two vintage living-room sofas in a matelasse fabric, which added texture to the all-oak floors, doors, trim and door and window casings. New faux-painted walls lent more richness, bringing out the pedigree of the couple's baby grand piano, antique cast iron, wood-burning fireplace with slate mantel and sculptural art collection.
"We chose a rich, seafoam, embroidered silk fabric for the draperies and oak drapery hardware from Stroheim & Roman," says Von Tress. "The shades of greens counterbalance all the orange in the oak."
Fixed panels were a budget-minded alternative to full drapes because Sharon doesn't draw them shut. To fulfill the Schaefer's commitment to energy efficiency, silk-look, striped, thermal Roman shades were installed to insulate the windows.
"We also rearranged the furniture into more of a conversational grouping," says Von Tress. A view was liberated by moving two wingback chairs, artwork was reframed and rehung and outdated sconces were replaced with Old World-style, oil-rubbed bronze fixtures.
Tapestries were rehung in the grand entry, playing up the home's Tudor architecture and vertical space.
"It seems because of our furniture that we're fairly formal because most of it is antique, but now it's actually comfortable, rich and homey," says Sharon. "It's pretty nice. We figure that our next address is Conger-Morris (a local funeral home) because we're never moving."