Foreign Accents: How to Incorporate Color
Janet Rodriguez’s house is bursting with color and extraordinary European antiques culled from romantic travels.
When Louis XIV famously said, “I almost had to wait” as his carriage was running late one day, he could also have been referring to being kept from climbing into his large oak bed dressed in luxurious cobalt blue satin sheets.
This style of decorating, made popular by French monarchs Louis XIII to the XVI, is what Americans commonly think of when someone describes a décor as being French. The interior of Janet Rodriguez’s house looks like it was plucked from Versailles; however, she does not consider her abode exclusively French.
“In every room, I have combined a lot of European decoration. I prefer to call it eclectic in style, with touches of European casual elegance,” she explains.
Her house is a mixture of many different European countries. The architecture is Spanish from 1926. She explains, for example, “The bones of this house are very typical Spanish design; a lot of covered ceilings and arched doorways.” Intimate reminders of her travels to Italy, France and Spain—such as Italian carved cherubs and French cane chairs—are found throughout the house.
The most prominent aesthetic, though, is the undeniable French influence. Jars filled with French soap add flair to her bathroom, and French decorating books are scattered on tabletops and desks. On a cabinet in the corner of the guest bedroom are small empty glass eau de toilette bottles. On the ceiling in the same room, clouds are painted to give the space a pastoral ambience. On the wall adjacent to the bed is a small mural of a country villa titled “Le Maison.” When decorating the room she felt that there was something missing, but had little space for anything big. “Adding a trompe l’oeil like that gives depth to the small area,” she explains.
Magnificent pieces of furniture that Janet handpicked from a few elite sources fill the rooms. Some were uncovered during her European excursions to antiques shops and flea markets and shipped to her store, Embroidery Palace, in Los Angeles, California. Others, like her chandeliers, she picked up from one of her favorite antiques shops in the Los Angeles area. She designed many pieces herself, such as the sofa and the reverse-painted chinoiserie bar, both of which are proudly displayed in her living room. Most objects she collects she leaves intact.
“I love the age. I would only restore them if they were broken,” she says.
Janet personalizes her linens and drapes by embroidering the pieces. Janet’s passion for embroidery can be seen in every corner of her house and is the driving aesthetical force that ties everything into a French art show.
In high school, Janet discovered that she had a knack for the skill. Completely self-taught, she would travel to Europe and return, inspired by the palaces and art, and embroider anything worthy. In 2000, after establishing Embroidery Palace, which specializes in embroidering fine linens using classic French patterns, she and partner Joanna Poitier joined both of their businesses. Hence, Florio Collection and Embroidery Palace are part of the Florio Collection Inc.
When Janet approaches a room to be decorated, rather than having an idea set in her mind she proceeds with the intention of creating a room “that will make you feel romantic and pretty,” she says. Her living room, for example, is bright with color from the soft ocean-blue drapes against the mint-green walls. Her favorite pieces to decorate with are the same ones that opened up the world of pastoral French design to her. Chinoiserie are Asian-inspired scenes done from a French perspective. They offer a twist on the normal countryside toile, a technique Janet uses judiciously.
“I have a great fondness for chinoiserie,” she says. “It reminds me of a beautiful exotic place somewhere long ago.”
By Regan-Elyse Elder
Photographed by Jaimee Itagaki
Styled by Jacqueline deMontravel