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California Home with an Old World Attitude

A new home with an Old World attitude promises a Northern California couple an English country getaway every day

Written and produced by Heather Lobdell
  • John Granen

    Linda Graham has traveled the world. But of all the places she has roamed, there is one that stands out as the most beautiful—the Cotswolds, that romantic swath of English countryside with verdant hillsides, woolly sheep, lush gardens, and medieval villages with thatched-roof cottages.

    So when Linda and her husband, Howard, decided to buy the lot next door to their Monte Sereno, California, home and build something from the ground up, the couple naturally looked to the Cotswolds for inspiration. It’s no surprise their new house—with its thatched and slate roofs, half-timber and lath walls, turret, carved rafter tails, leaded glass, and reclaimed wood and stone floors—looks as if it could have been gently plucked from the pages of a fairy tale.

    The magical outcome took more than a little “abracadabra.” With an eye toward finding professionals seasoned in employing Old World techniques, materials, and finishes, Linda says, “We assembled what I call The Dream Team.” First came interior designer Linda Floyd, who is known for creating sumptuous traditional homes layered with historic craftsmanship and fine antiques. Architect Gary Kohlsaat was next on board, followed by builder Jeff Townsend and landscape architect Rich Wilson. “It was such a positive, collaborative project,” says Townsend, who was charged with researching centuries-old techniques and finding craftsmen who could do the work masterfully.

    The gate and iron hardware were designed and built on site by a craftsman who also made bronze doors and leaded glass windows for the home.

    Architect: Gary Kholsaat, Kholsaat & Assoc., 51 University Ave., Suite L, Los Gatos, CA 95030; 408/395-2555.
    Interior designer: Linda Floyd, Linda Floyd Inc. Interior Design, San Francisco, CA; 408/978-6542 and Carmel, CA; 831/626-4140,
    Landscape Architect: Richard Wilson, Mission Landscaping Inc., 320 Foam St., Suite 6, Monterey, CA 93940; 831/373-8293,

    Photography: John Granen

  • John Granen

    Sunny Conservatory

    Before breaking ground, the team created a story for the home—a tale of what its history might have been if it had been built long ago. “We wanted it to look like it was added onto through the generations, as many grand old English houses were,” Floyd says.

    In their narrative, thatched-roof stables and horse stalls came first, followed by the Tudor-style house, growing in spurts as the fictional family got bigger, its fortunes increased, and architectural styles became more refined. Later would have come the fireplace pavilion and glass conservatory. That story guided the team in its effort to achieve an authentic look and feel—although the “stables” house Howard’s exotic cars and the “horse stalls” corral pool equipment.

    The airy conservatory is Linda’s favorite room. “I love to have tea here with girlfriends,” she says. The room’s chintz fabrics by Scalamandré and Old World Weavers were chosen first and inspired the selection of an antique Savonnerie rug and an 18th-century French console.

    Paint (“Monterey White” #HC-27): Benjamin Moore,
    Area rug; chandelier; console table at window; candelabra on console: antique.
    Bird on console (antique); dachshund on console (antique): owner’s collection.
    Chairs and ottoman by console (custom); sofa (custom): Linda Floyd Inc. Interior Design,
    Chair-and-ottoman fabric (by Old World Weavers, discontinued); sofa fabric (by Old World Weavers, discontinued): Stark,
    Table beside chair; table lamp: antique.
    Lumbar pillow on sofa; coffee table; bergère; round end table: antique.
    Bergère fabric (woven floral, discontinued): Scalamandré,  

  • John Granen

    Old-World Stairwell

    The house exudes the charm of days gone by. Constructed with authentic half-timbers and lath, it features Old World stonework in chimneys, walls, floors, and a grand turret by the front door. The turret displays arched windows and a curved stone staircase that leads up to second-story bedrooms and down to Howard’s wine cellar and tasting room. “I love the staircase tower,” Linda says. “It gives the house a castle-y feel.”

    To achieve an opulent manor house aura, the homeowner and designer, who shared an affinity from the day they met and were dubbed “Linda Squared” by the team, pored over design books. They traveled to London, New York, Atlanta, and San Francisco to shop for antique furniture and fabrics, as well as building materials that included doors, lighting, statuary, and reclaimed wood and stone.

    Masons from England built the stone turret. 

    Wall sconces (“Medallion Sconce” #1052): Paul Ferrante,
    Pedestal table; chandelier; area rug: antique.

  • John Granen

    Cozy Living Room

    Designer Linda Floyd designed the room’s walnut paneling and the coffered ceiling with tooled-leather and gold-leaf insets. The limestone mantel is from France.

    Paneling (custom): Linda Floyd Inc. Interior Design,
    Chandelier; library table; benches; area rug; vase: antique. 
    Bench fabric (“Leopard Velvet”/Gold, Brown #YO-0001-0690, by Old World Weavers): Stark,  

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    Gallery Hall

    While the Lindas found antique lighting for several rooms, the perfect fixture for the stone gallery that links the living room and limestone patio eluded them. Floyd ultimately designed a series of iron lanterns to light the way to a breathtaking English garden.

    The gallery hall features stone walls, reclaimed French limestone floors, and an antique Italian chest, along with antique dog paintings and statuary.

    Benches: J-Art Iron Co.,
    Bench fabric: antique tapestry.
    Bureau at end of hall; lanterns: antique.
    Art above bureau (antique); dogs on bureau (antique): owner’s collection.

  • John Granen

    Lovely Dining Room

    The dining table is made from old French wood. The 19th-century French etched-glass doors with transoms open to the conservatory. Rich linen chintz from Lee Jofa at the windows infuses beauty and warmth.

    Paint (“Monterey White” #HC-27): Benjamin Moore,
    Dining table: antique.
    Host chairs (“Régence Haut Dossier Armchair” #RTFA10); side chairs (“Régence Rocaille Chair” #RT5): Massant,
    Host-chair fabric (embroidered damask, discontinued): Nobilis,
    Striped side-chair cushion (chenille stripe, discontinued): Cowtan & Tout,
    Tassels on chairs: Duralee,
    Chandelier (“Europa” #2110): Paul Ferrante,
    Drapery fabric (floral linen, discontinued): Lee Jofa,
    Drapery hardware: Edward Harpley,
    Tea set (“Queen Victoria,” by Herend): Replacements,
    Tiered dessert tray: owner’s collection.

  • John Granen

    Cheerful Kitchen

    The kitchen cabinetry features a green, five-step distressed and waxed finish, French hardware, and etched-glass fronts. An antique glass-and-brass wall shelf next to the sink puts pretty dishes on display. Both Lindas coveted the antique French baker’s table, but homeowner Linda won that battle. The stainless-steel range is from Wolf.

    Cabinetry (custom); finish (custom); hardware (imported from France); valance (custom): Linda Floyd Inc. Interior Design,
    Glass doors in cabinets: antique.
    Countertop; backsplash on window wall: Carrara marble, honed.
    Paint on window wall (“Easter Lily” #2150-70): Benjamin Moore,
    Flooring: walnut.
    Double sink (“Regatta”/Stainless Steel #RGX120); faucet (#FF-3000, discontinued): Franke,
    Art to left of sink (antique); shelf unit to right of sink; French baker’s table beside island; pot rack; rooster on island (Sèvres porcelain); backsplash tiles at range: antique.
    Range: Wolf,
    Oven hood (custom, lead, locally forged); metal stars on hood (custom, locally forged): Linda Floyd Inc. Interior Design,   

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    Colorful Backsplash

    The cheery kitchen features distressed cabinetry fronted with etched glass, plus vintage Moroccan tile on the stove’s backsplash. 

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    Striking Library

    When the Lindas couldn’t find the right antique, they improvised. An English library table was cut to fit into the library, which features walnut bookcases and a vaulted ceiling. Artisans created replicas of a 17th-century Jacobean turned-leg stool to share the space.

    A vintage Persian carpet, leopard-print velvet-covered stools, and a mix of old and new books lend color to the vaulted, walnut-paneled library. 

    Paneling (custom): Linda Floyd Inc. Interior Design,
    Chandelier; library table; benches; area rug; vase: antique. 
    Bench fabric (“Leopard Velvet”/Gold, Brown #YO-0001-0690, by Old World Weavers): Stark,  

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    Red Powder Room

    The powder room shines like a small gem. The 18th-century trumeau mirror and ornate rock-crystal sconces framing it are French. Floyd plumbed a bamboo-and-marble vanity with a brass faucet and dressed the room in dramatic red-and-gold wallpaper from Cowtan & Tout.

    Wallpaper (damask, discontinued): Cowtan & Tout,
    Chandelier; washstand; wall sconces; mirror: antique.
    Sink (“Savoy” undermount): Waterworks,
    Faucets (“Royale”): Herbeau,

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    The upstairs hall features antique botanical prints, French Art Deco Greek lamps, a 19th-century hand-painted mirror, vintage-style lanterns, and luscious crewel draperies with silk trim in fabric by Lee Jofa. 

    Paint(“Easter Lily” #2150-70): Benjamin Moore,
    Drapery (“Summerhouse Crewel”/Meadow #2000155.1): Lee Jofa,
    Area rugs; console table; table lamp; bench; bureau at end of hall; mirror above bureau; hanging lantern: antique.
    Bench fabric (embroidered silk, by Old World Weavers, discontinued): Stark,

  • John Granen

    Master Bedroom

    The attention to historical accuracy and layering of furnishings and fabrics makes each room a discovery, including the soothing master bedroom, which resonates with French Country charm.

    The room is swathed in the timeless beauty of toile fabrics from Brunschwig & Fils. The antique carved bed is French, as are the pine-and-etched-glass closet doors with dainty lace curtains. A cornice above the bed and draperies dripping with trim make the room soft, luxurious, and inviting.

    Wallcovering (toile, discontinued): Brunschwig & Fils,
    Paint (“White Chocolate” #2149-70): Benjamin Moore,
    Drapery, bed, and bed-drapery fabric (“Sagan Rose” #N1-0070-4026, by Old World Weavers): Stark,
    Drapery trim (custom): Smith & Brighty,
    Bed linens, pillow shams at back: antique linens.
    Pillow shams, front: antique.
    Duvet fabric: discontinued.
    Area rug: Stark,
    Ceiling light: antique.
    Bedside table; lamp; table under window; lamp on table; art of rose: antique.
    Chair and ottoman (custom): Linda Floyd Inc. Interior Design,
    Chair-and-ottoman fabric (“Napoleon III”/Vert #B1782001, by Braquenié): Pierre Frey,

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    Guest Room

    Just like the master bedroom, the guest room exudes plenty of French Country charm thanks to the floral footboard and Cowtan & Tout wallpaper.

    Wallpaper (damask, discontinued): Cowtan & Tout,
    Ceiling and trim paint (“Easter Lily” #2150-70): Benjamin Moore,
    Area rug; drapery and pillow shams (silk, by Old World Weavers, discontinued): Stark,
    Drapery trim (tassel fringe, custom): Smith & Brighty,
    Bed (custom); bed cover (custom): Linda Floyd Inc., Interior Design,
    Bed-skirt (silk stripe, discontinued): Cowtan & Tout,
    Footboard fabric (“Antoinette Woven Lampas”/Gold #BR-89719.334): Brunschwig & Fils,
    Upholstered bench; dresser; lamp on dresser; chair beside dresser and chair-seat fabric ; art above dresser and above bed: antique. 

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    Floyd says seeing all the treasures in the house today brings back memories of “fun times Linda and I had shopping for them.” Homeowner Linda agrees. “The project was such fun,” she says. “We enjoy every moment here. This is our happily ever after.”

    Linda and Howard Graham’s Tudor-style home features lush English gardens that wrap around the house, making it ideal for large-scale fundraising galas that the couple frequently host. 

  • John Granen