Continued from What Makes Your House A Home (Part 2)
The girls want for very little, but don’t think these dolls are princesses. Tiffany, who loves horses, travels to Norco each week to tend to three horses. With the money she earns from that work, she buys a riding lesson. She returns each time, as all the girls do, to a home filled with a Victorian-style richness and depth. Original mahogany trim and doors frame walls of dark avocado, cerulean blue and deep yellow. The colors are a rather new addition, since artist/friend Cecil Long visited from Canada last year. “He set up shop in our garage and began painting,” Karen said.
“I told him to paint me Italian/French fun!” Long painted and painted, and taught Brittany the craft as well. Her surreal horse picture hangs in the girl’s bathroom. But the piece that inspired the house color scheme was “A Lot of Hat ,”a surreal, Toulouse-Lautrec acrylic of – you guessed it, a whole lot of hats – that hangs in their sun room. “Most people pick a painting to go with the room, we did it in reverse – for the whole house!” Stephen said with a laugh. The Amslers are always up for new ideas, but the new must be in synch with the old.
“Keeping the integrity of the home is so important to us,” Stephen said. “We’ve tried to match everything in the new remodeling to the old, right down to the crystal doorknobs.” There are antique pieces and newer furniture that looks antiquated. That is a must. In fact, when they made an addition to the back of the house – relocating the master bedroom and bath – Stephen and his guitar-making neighbor Dan spent a week making new mahogany trim and doors to match the old. Stephen also spent long hours searching for new tiles to match the mauve and mint hexagons in the original bath.He settled on white, the only choice available, but designed the master bath with a cobalt blue middle border and skylights that appear to be second-story dormers from the street. There is a prominent new feature of the home, however, that has garnered it a local reputation. “Everyone calls this the dollhouse,” Tiffany giggled. The moniker refers to the porcelain doll sitting atop an old carousel horse in the front living-room window.
A detailed little lady dressed in lace with a head of curls, she peers sweetly from the window, beckoning visitors in with an elegance only found in the past. She is the “Tiffany” doll, the first in a four porcelain doll project Karen began while pregnant with Emily. Brittany has her doll in her room, and the baby Emily doll lies nestled in an antique baby buggy in the dining room. “Mom made her eyes closed because she wasn’t born yet, and we didn’t know what color they’d be,” Brittany said with a laugh. The dolls were hand-painted, sculpted and fired by Karen, who says the amount of work it took has put an end to that hobby.
For now, the girls are her and Stephen’s primary project. “Some day, when I’m older, I’ll get back into painting and drawing. Stephen and I still have a lot of personal goals, but right now, the girls are what matters most to us. We wouldn’t trade them for the world.” And giving them that world is their aim.
Originally Printed in Orange County Home