Presenting the Past
Sue Jackson was drawn to the patina of old things even as a child. While other children were learning from Saturday morning cartoons, elementary school primers and Scholastic textbooks, little Sue was learning the value of handcrafts from her grandmother’s collection of glass. She later learned about the history of the Chicago train station from the old station house bench her parents used for occasional seating. Raised with this appreciation for antiques, she went on to open her own antiques mall called Country Roads Antiques & Gardens, a location that has become a shabby Mecca for those seeking the quality craftsmanship of things made in the past and the unique charm of rare vintage finds.
It’s no surprise, then, that her home is a bastion that upholds her values for living with history and designing with a passion for the collections that fulfill her. She’s created a unique abode that was thoughtfully constructed and has room for her four grown children who stop by often with their families and sometimes stay a bit. And while her décor may not fit neatly into a finite category for a certain style, it most importantly makes room for all of her loves.
“My house is eclectic. I kind of go against the grain compared to a lot of people who have design styles that match, but my belief is to decorate your house the way you love. For me, that’s a combination of things,” Sue says. Rustic antiques, industrial Americana and tropical beach style create an ambiance of casual living in her home. Each item looks used—there’s nothing too precious here. And there’s nary a piece of furniture that has been sanded and repainted; it’s all been left charmingly chippy.
“My first love is country primitive,” she says. “That’s what Country Roads started out as. But I like California style because it’s casual. I wear flip-flops to work. I don’t have any curtains because I like the open breeze and bright sun. The main furniture is comfy and made to lounge on.”
The Southern California touches are subtle. The blue walls are a nod to the ocean a few miles away, and the exposed wood and open-plan layout are indicative of the 1950s ranch homes prolific in many California suburbs. The tropical aesthetic is most literal in the master bedroom—fitting, as it instills a mood of relaxation and leisure for Sue. Of course, its execution is in vintage mode. A vintage glider from the ’50s and an old surfboard make up a seating area across from the bed, and the bedding is composed of vintage bark cloth with a retro Hawaiian print.
The rest of the look—a mix of rustic farmhouse style and nostalgic folk art and bold color—is delivered via Sue’s many collections. Yellowware in the kitchen was a practical, affordable pick that she began accumulating many years ago as a newlywed. Sue stores them in the open shelves of an antique hutch and cabinet as an homage to her shop. Primitive kitchen tools, arranged on ledges and lined on shelves, hark back to a simpler time.
“Someone has taken the time to paint it, usually for family businesses,” she says. “For example, The Breezy Hill Pony Farm—you could tell he had a son at one point because there’s the addition of ‘and son’ to the sign,” she says, referencing her favorite piece in the collection. “And then you can tell he had another child because you can see that he stenciled in ‘and daughter.’ That’s what I love about them, they tell a story.”
Most of Sue’s belongings tell a story, some from her own family, as she’s since inherited her grandmother’s glass collectibles and taken ownership of the old train station bench. Her 2-year-old granddaughter, Riley, who has a propensity for jumping on furniture, can get rough with it, but it’s treated no more robustly than when Sue’s family used it in their home, bringing the family love of antiques full circle.
“I hope both of my granddaughters carry on the love of antiques,” she says. “Antiques are not only our business but something I believe our country was originally founded upon—family businesses. I hope they keep pieces of our family’s past to pass down to their own children someday.”
By Jickie Torres
Photography by Jaimee Itagaki
Styled by Jacqueline deMontravel