By Katie James
The first time I stayed in a home designed by Lyn Matejczyk (Muh-tay-zik), of Material of California, I had just driven halfway across the country. It was a cold, winter day and all I could think about was how nice it would be to get inside and take off my boots. That was quite some time ago, but I'll never forget the way the wooden screen door snapped shut behind me as I entered the mud room where a polite strip of white hooks lining the wall stood ready to take my coat. I've often thought that good decorating is as much about the soul as it is about the eye, and it may well have been that cold day in the mudroom when I first came up with this notion.
We can look at a bazillion-plus decorating pictures online and wow ourselves with eye candy, but when it comes down to it, it's the overall experience that we are after — that warm glow, the room down the hall that's made up just for us, the way the carpet in the foyer is worn thin just so on the corner, where it takes the most traffic. Matejczyk's latest affections have been productively focused on the Villa Nel Bosco in Sonoma California, a beautiful home set in a valley where the syrah grape vines line a wide, sloping hill just outside the open windows.
It's a grand place, but it doesn't lack in substance for the soul—the details are rich and purposeful and there is no pretense. One of the ways that Matejczyk accomplishes this feat is by focusing a fair amount of her energy on what others might think of as inconsequential, but what she views as essential. For example, she used an Italian men's suit material (a wool herringbone) to cover the boxsprings of the larger beds, and ticking for the twins.
Above: The dining area. The table was carved from solid teak in Java. In the background is a burlap chandelier by Katherine James (me!).
I was honored when I was asked to create the art for Villa Nel Bosco. It's all original—no prints. I was pretty much given full reign (a commissioned artist's dream) and tried to stay true to the spaces and the particular aesthetic that was beginning to take shape. My choice of mediums? Oil, acrylic, gesso, burlap, newspaper, pages from Boccherini's Concerto in E for guitar and orchestra. Like I said, I was given full reign.
Above: On the left mixed media antlers hang from a handmade pulley system. The heirloom partners desk originally came up the Mississippi to Missouri.
Some of the most important design elements of the villa began to materialize as Matejczyk browsed local salvage yards and specialists in recycling. The outdoor shower, shed and bocce court are made from materials bought from Heritage Salvage in Petaluma, a great resource for ideas with scads of material to carry them out. Apparently, when you drive in, there is an enormous pyramid that was originally made for Burning Man.
Maselli and Sons, a metal salvage yard, is where Matejczyk found what she calls "these great tractor tines" that she used as tiebacks for the burlap curtains on the sleeping porch. She also found rope for the "bride's mirror" in the master bedroom, as well as wheels for the big sliding door in the guest room. "That place was great," she told me, "a real treasure of grand metal things from the past."
She found wood—big beams and heavy slabs, for the handmade bed in the sleeping porch, the bench in the outdoor shower, outdoor dining table, and all of the wood for the frames for the antler pictures, at The Reuse People. She also found the wood for the huge slider doors for the guest room there.
Above: notice the interesting light fixture, something Matejczyk calls a "moveable sconce."
Above: more moveable sconces and more Katherine James artwork!
All of the windows, doors, hardware, shutters, interior and exterior are imported from Italy. The walls are Venetian plaster and the floors are made from reclaimed fir.
Above: Lyn Matejczyk
Above: The warm and welcoming foyer.
As I've gotten to know Lyn Matejczyk I've found her to be one of those rare people who is not out to impress so much as out to bless. True hospitality and true design, it seems to me, should come from the heart, and she's able to take any space, big and grand or small and intimate, and transform it into a place where most of us would be grateful to experience, if even for just a weekend.
Villa Nel Bosco can be booked through Beautiful Places.