Home & Design July 30, 2008

Colors and Collections

Create a Unique vision of a country home

Architect: Michael Bulls
Construction: Fritz Hoffman

Most people would be thrilled with a beautifully designed home fashioned after conventional styles. Then there are those who dare to venture a little off the beaten path, adding dashes of personality and originality that surprise and delight.

Eclectic treasures garnered from all corners of the world make Eric and Susan Seder’s home a beautiful and fascinating place to visit. The joy of collecting permeates every cozy nook and cranny of this special residence.

The Seders’ East Fork home is a unique reflection and blend of both their personalities and passions. “I wanted more of a farmhouse and Eric wanted a barn style, so it’s a little bit of both,” explains Susan. “It was a compromise between the two of us.”

The difference between a farmhouse or a barn style is not that great when you consider it—these two would seem to have been born for each other. They, in fact, were brought together in a way almost guaranteed to turn out a bad evening for most couples. Eric Seder explains: “We met on a blind date (believe it or not) in San Francisco when I was an investment banker in New York and Susan was a restaurateur in Boise.”

Now they work together in a totally different field and they knew what they wanted when they went to create their dream house together.
Eric and Susan walked through acres of old timber in Carey (at IGL Recycled Timbers & Millwork), selecting just the right vintage wood. The result is a handsome, dark brown, weathered-wood house accented by white-framed, red-shuttered windows, both large and small. The smaller character windows are reminiscent of peephole windows in barns. On the front porch, red rocking chairs and red window boxes full of red carnations add even more charm.

Walking through the welcoming red doorway, you are greeted by the warm colors of the living room leading to a beautiful view through the trees and down to the Big Wood River. Inside this post-and-beam home, a 21-foot-high living room ceiling creates the loftiness of a barn and makes the 2,900-square-foot home seem much larger. French doors with a row of windows above bring in lots of light and afford a transparency, opening the home to the outdoors.

An impressive wood living room fireplace soars from floor to ceiling. One of the family’s collected treasures, an antique Indonesian carving, decorates the mantel like an exotic piece of lace, adding unique artistry and beauty.

Some of the interesting ideas that make this home such a special place were inspired during the Seders’ frequent treasure hunts through peddlers’ fairs, including the local antique fairs on July 4th and Labor Day weekends. “You have to have a purpose when you go to art fairs,” says Susan, smiling. Discovering and collecting things for their home is definitely one of their shared passions. They love to travel together and wherever they go, part of the fun is finding something exciting to bring home. 

One innovative idea was to take a weathered door found at a crafts fair, cut it in two, and hang it sideways on the cream-colored living room wall, creating a hayloft effect complete with hoisting hook for hay bales. Antique wooden farm tools hang on another beam-crossed wall, more rustic reminders of the farmhouse.

A lower woven-wood ceiling makes part of the great room into an intimate dining area. Lights glow warmly through the wood, creating just the right atmosphere for a cozy dinner party. A red china cabinet next to the alder dining table features hand-painted designs and the wooden floor has been worn down to create a classic country look. Antique wooden church doors, another crafts fair discovery, make an elegant curved opening between the dining area and kitchen.

One of the collections that literally lights up almost every room of the house is their unique accumulation of chandeliers. They may be made of transparent crystals, adding a graceful touch to the bathroom, or topped in red silk, illuminating the kitchen. Some have been collected from as far away as Venice or as nearby as the local Hailey store, Vintage Gypsy.

Though you wouldn’t think chandeliers would work in a country-style home, they do. The basic homey flavor of a farmhouse is balanced and bejeweled by a bit of magic and elegance. The chandeliers create a shimmer of style during the day and a glowing ambiance in the evening, especially combined with the collection of candles appearing in almost every room.

Color is another element that has been used imaginatively. “I always start with the rug and build from there,” says Susan, describing the initial inspiration for the interior color design. In this case, the color palette was inspired by the interwoven colors of their Pakistani living room rug from the Davies-Reid Gallery. Rich reds reverberate through the house, along with blues and golds. A coffee table, crafted by Eric Seder from an antique Indonesian headboard, is hand-painted with the same swirling colors. Their friend, local artist Judith Whitmyre, painted a picture in similar hues to hang over the piano.

The most distinctive color here is blue. “I wanted a lot of gray and a little bit of green in the blue. It was an important color. And not that easy to find,” adds Susan. This soft yet rich blue appears on the living room cabinets, sofa and window frames as well as in the kitchen, master bedroom and bath. Rustic reds and golds warm up the blues in the main area of the house. >>>



Fabric has also been used creatively here, infusing warmth and hominess into every room. Mixing and matching the basic colors in various fabrics was an enjoyable artistic challenge for Susan. “It’s called collage,” she continues. “Different fabrics are mixed and sewn together.” The soft, blue-velvet sofa is accented by pillows covered in a myriad of red, blue and gold. Sumptuous blue satin pillows embossed with dragonflies are a creative complement to various blue, red and yellow-patterned pillows. The blue French doors are framed by red and cream flower-patterned drapes with matching upholstered cornice box.

And then there are the wonderful trims. A multiplicity of playful trim styles enlivens the edges of every pillow and drape. “I love to add detail because that’s the thing that makes it interesting,” says Susan. “There are so many different trims to choose from that are really fun.”

Finding the fabrics and trims was a little easier job for Susan than for most. She uses her designing talents to run Fox Creek Fabrics and Interiors and Four Seasons Furniture Collection while Eric directs Sun Valley Shutters & Shades. The three stores are now combined as Sun Valley Design Center in Ketchum. Susan used their large library of fabrics as an inspiration for the mélange of fabrics that create coziness in every room, including the laundry room, where curtains are edged in antique buttons and whimsically attached by clothespins to a clothesline. Many of the fabrics are from the Seders’ own private fabric line.

In the master bedroom and bath, blue and cream- colored fabrics continue without the use of red, eliciting a more serene atmosphere. Ralph Lauren linens decorate the hickory twig master bed, hand-crafted in Vermont. Interestingly, hay has been pressed into the cream plaster walls here, leaving varied soft yellow patterns enhancing the barn/farmhouse theme. They were inspired by old European farmhouse walls made of hay mixed with mud.

The Seders were impressed by the openness of their contractor, Fritz Hoffman, who was willing to try this unique wall design technique along with “every one of our crazy ideas!” Another original idea produced the lovely Venetian glazed walls in the office across the way.

The master bathroom is bathed in the same blue and cream-colored fabrics as the bedroom. Cobblestones frame the bathtub and stones edge the bleached wooden floor creating a spa-like aura. “The rocks are, in fact, loose,” says Eric Seder. “We built in a metal-lined trough about an inch deep to accommodate them, so they never end up on the wooden floor. They can be vacuumed with a hand vac, but a regular vacuum is too strong and would just suck the rocks right up.”

Ceramics are another favorite collection. A colorful display of over 100 plates fills a huge antique wooden plate rack in the kitchen. The Seders discovered the wonderful old English rack and just had to fill it up. It now decorates one whole wall of the kitchen with every possible shape and color plate. Their collection of ceramic pigs adds humor to the farmhouse theme. An amusing row of ceramic porcine faces looks happily down on the kitchen.

Of her collection of copper pots and utensils, “I made Eric drive all over Tuscany looking for these!” remembers Susan. Now the pots hang from a wooden rack on a ceiling crafted from 200-year-old tiles from Spain (found on the Internet), matching the hammered copper sink from Mexico in the redwood center island.

A classic looking red oven strikes the eye and embodies the country look with a touch of grand style. Although it looks antique, it’s really the latest Aga oven from England and houses four separate ovens in one—a warmer/broiler, and a baking, convection and regular oven. It can do four things at once, which is perfect for the Seders since they love to cook and entertain.

The yellow and blue wooden cupboards here create an old-fashioned feel while metal sculpted figures climbing up the cupboards that are used as handles are a touch of witty originality. Amber granite above the stove adds warmth to complement the beige concrete counters on the island. A cozy corner niche is filled with more comfy, colorful pillows around a table—a perfect spot for a casual meal or a chummy chat.

Across from the kitchen is the guest powder room next to a wine rack crafted by Eric to tuck into the side of the stairs. This bathroom is upholstered in warm red faux leather lined with batting to create a rich woven textured look. A hand-painted shellacked mirror from Susan’s store hangs over a sink that was originally a copper pot from Mexico. The antique vanity was discovered in Shanghai and the silk chandelier in Venice. A truly international bathroom—but it all somehow fits together with that special Seder personal touch.

On the other side of the kitchen, red French doors open to a screened-in porch. “I had more fun doing the porch than any other room in the house because it’s different,” remarks Susan enthusiastically. “It’s a separate enclosed area so we could use different fun colors like pink that you can’t use anywhere else. I picked up old wooden chairs for $10 each at different stores,” and then covered them in playful fabrics. Polka dots, stripes, pinks, greens, and blues cover the wooden chair cushions and wicker furniture. Matching pink crystal chandeliers and colorfully braided rugs add more fun to this cheerful room, a favorite gathering place for the family. 

Two overhead heaters keep the porch cozy almost year-round except in the dead of winter. And the furniture can be left out all year long because of the special indoor-outdoor fabrics. “They don’t fade. They’re bulletproof,” notes Susan. “They’re called Sunbrella—the kind you make awnings out of, but now they make them in the most beautiful fabrics for the outdoors,” including the soft chenille used in this room.

A screen door gives a classic creak (“I love that sound,” says Susan) as it opens out to the backyard. These doors are also unique. They are antique and have the original electric “bug zappers” built right into the door. (“We never plug them in!”)

Stepping outdoors in summer, you are greeted by the sounds of water from the river and the sight of a lily pad-strewn pond. There are two other favorite family gathering places back here (The Seders have two children, now in college.)—a fully-furnished and fabric-filled teepee and a picnic table complete with bonfire pit by the river for friends and family to gather and appreciate the joys of nature and togetherness.

Susan and Eric Seder have used their unique talents and passions to create a beautiful home that welcomes all who come here with warmth, humor, originality and style.

This article appears in the Spring 2007 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.