When interior designer Ann Jones purchased a house just a few blocks off the Sonoma Plaza, she was buying potential. "It had been a wood planing mill at the turn of the last century, and then it was a furniture factory," she says. "Sometime in the 1950s, it had been turned into a duplex, and it was suffering from about 50 years of deferred maintenance." But Jones was attracted to the building's original brick porch, wide open spaces and large lot. Preserving the roof line, rafters and maple floor; she set out to change everything else. "When I bought it, it was kind of creepy," says Jones. "But when I was done with it, it was ethereal."
For the exterior, Jones selected plants with only yellow, orange and green colors. "I'm kind of like the plant police," she says. "I won't let any other colors into the garden. Other hues just don't look as pleasing to me outside."
The original brick portico, or wide porch, was one of the few things that appealed to Jones about the building before the remodel. A large overhang keeps the area shaded. "Normally, this kind of feature would make the interior dark," Jones says. "But this house is always filled with light."
Jones favors furniture with character, such as the round grape sorting table that serves as her coffee table. "I bought it at an auction, and I had never seen anything like it," she says. "The top actually spins, which is great for sharing food with guests. The problem is that, when it moves around, your drink goes with the plate." The designer believes that the fireplace was added in the 1950s. "A lot of people told me I should get rid of it, but it just is so cool," she says. "I decided to keep it, but paint the red brick grey and add a raised hearth."
With the removal of a wall, the new kitchen is open to the living room. Jones chose flat-front Douglas fir cabinets. "I don't like anything but flat-front cabinets," says Jones. "That way, the eye goes to the things I put in the kitchen—the bright bowls and the rug—rather than cabinet ornamentation."