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French Country Comfort in Valencia
November, 2020 - Issue #194

A warm brick fireplace is embraced by a distressed grey-green mantel, setting a calm and cozy tone for the family room. Touches of wrought iron and wood add texture and depth to the space.

The Valencia home of Carolyn and Ritch Nelson may be relatively small in square footage - but it's grand in well-thought-out touches that make guests feel right at home.

"Because the space is smaller," says Carolyn, "everything that we've put into it has to make sense and fit just right - or the look is cluttered."


Sentimental glass and dishware call this reclaimed-wood and wrought-iron buffet table home. Fall touches, like a botanical wreath in shades of wheat, abound throughout. The formal dining room's collection of Sid Dickens memory blocks reflect a life well lived. "Each was gifted to me by a close friend or family member to commemorate a special occasion in my life," shares Nelson. Stair risers adorned with handpainted Spanish tiles draw the eye up, as does the moulding that rises in lockstep alongside. Refined Vintage Boutique (505-7175) is an exclusive local merchant of Sid Dickens memory blocks, including hard-to-find pieces.

What's made the cut? "I've come to a point in my life where I only want to buy and display things that are one-of-a-kind... that have a story. I love antiques that I can repurpose or handmade items that support craftspeople. I'm slowly replacing my mass-produced possessions with curated pieces," shares the homeowner.


The all-white kitchen boasts custom cabinetry with furniture details, glowing marble and curated antiques that have been repurposed. "I now only buy things that are truly interesting, that have a story, that are ethically sourced," says Nelson. Case in point: a hand carved vintage wood vessel that is now serving as an artful vase.

That mentality coordinates beautifully with the sweet simplicity of the French Country home. "The house itself lends towards Mediterranean," says Carolyn. "And the elements I've added move in that direction. But I love the muted colors and soft textures of French Country - they're just what I need to leave the stress of the day behind. The end result will be a mix of modern, Mediterranean, French... transitional!"


A trio of carved-wood medallions crowns the master bedroom while a tuft seat serves as a launching pad for the couple's pooch, Mr. B, to climb up into bed. The home's romantic guest bedroom is referred to sweetly as the "Wedding Room." Pictures of the couple's wedding day, as well as their parents' and children's, grace the walls. The guest bath's brushed chrome is twice as luminous, thanks to its reflection in the resin mirrors.

The home, purchased from a friend, was love at first sight for both Carolyn and her husband, Ritch. "I knew that it was in stunning condition with incredible details, but I needed him to fall for it on his on volition." Ritch walked through the property and came to the same conclusion - it was a perfect fit.


The home's living room is filled with symbols of lives well lived. A Norman Rockwell illustration, once found in Ritch Nelson's parents' home, adorns one wall while brass rubbings from England that Carolyn Nelson's mother made rest on another. The credenza has traveled from home to home for the Nelsons, transitioning its purpose each time - but always looking perfectly appropriate in its new space.

"It's within three miles of both of our daughters, which is really important to us. Family is everything," says Nelson.
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