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The World Comes to Camarillo

In the Santa Rosa Valley, Jarvis and Susan Streeter bring a world of eclecticism—where international art and antiques find a place in a contemporary English manor house—to their hands-on home renovation.

By Mark Storer—Photos by Gaszton gal

The living room showcases window panels and porcelain from China, Buddha sculptures from Bali, a wooden pillow and wrist knife from the Turkana tribe of Kenya, and a pastel painting from Singapore.

 

he heady days of the late 1990s, with a thriving economy and a booming housing market, are a distant memory now. For Jarvis and Susan Streeter it was a time to expand—to lay claim to their American dream by creating a home that spoke of the couple’s wanderlust and love of art and collectibles from around the world.

The house they found was built in the 1970s in the Santa Rosa Valley, northeast of Camarillo, and it looked its age. Though they purchased it in 1998, it wasn’t until 2002 that they began an ambitious remodel and renovation of the 3,650-square-foot house, designing exteriors and interiors themselves, with Jarvis doing most of the labor.

“I took a sabbatical in the fall of 2002,” said Jarvis, 60, an ordained Lutheran pastor and a professor of theology at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. “That’s when we really got started.”

A Makonde work that Jarvis got while teaching in Kenya.

The couple decided on complete change. They moved the front door and entryway, tore down the stairwell and replaced it with a semi-circle staircase, added a guest bedroom, and even refaced the exterior with stones that Jarvis cut and placed himself. They also knocked down walls, both real and cultural ones.

The interior is an eclectic mix of international art and antiques that speak to the Streeters’ past, combining African and Asian themes blending together in a contemporary English manor house design. The theme is that there is no theme—and it sorts with the personality of two people who don’t always color within the lines.

An Indonesian carving.

“It’s about choosing what you love and making it work,” said Susan, 59, who operates an independent bookkeeping company and lived for four years in the 1970s in East Malaysia. “It was a broadening experience for me…I was able to travel a lot throughout the area.”

During the same time period, Jarvis traveled with the Lutheran church to Africa, where he lived for a year. “It’s the best education in the world,” he said. “I tell my students all the time they should study abroad.”

A sculpture entitled “Betrothed,” representing a male and female of the Masai tribe.

When they got back home, the Streeters brought the world with them. “I wanted the impression of an English country manor when you walk in the house,” said Jarvis. Birch wood wainscoting adorns the lower half of the wall in the entryway and follows up the staircase, while pottery pieces of deep blue and white sit on the floor. “Then, you carry that with you through the restt of the house,” he said. The entry’s high walls are adorned with textiles from Bali, their faded orange dyes giving way to the deep red and orange hues in the wainscoting, blending cultures as well as colors.

This metal patterned mold, called a batik chop, was brought back from Indonesia, where the hand-dyeing technique predates written records.

To the left of the entryway, the dining room is accented by three sets of French doors allowing natural light into a sage green room with a birch wood ceiling. The fireplace is adorned with another African and Asian mix of art, including a smiling Buddha and an African wood carving of a man with exaggerated limbs. On the east wall a pair of frames, each holding an embroidered, silk Mandarin jacket sleeve purchased by Susan, surround the first piece of artwork Jarvis bought.

A Balinese charcoal hangs over the mantel, where art pieces include a Makonde work, a laughing Chinese Buddha, and an Indonesian Garuda sculpture.

The kitchen is purely English manor, with no real nods to Asia or Africa unless it’s cooking on the stove. Jarvis designed and built the nook for the stove and originally wanted a copper backsplash. “The piece I wanted was so expensive, though, so I just decided to use copper paint,” he said. “I figure I can always add it later if I want to.”

International pieces adorn the dining room, which also houses an antique Chinese buffet.

As Jarvis is a bit of an audiophile, the entertainment room was designed with his love of gadgetry in mind. He pushed back a wall, raised the ceiling, and installed sound proofing panels covered in copper colored ultra-suede. On the back wall, above the seating area, Susan hung a Mandarin coat of deep blues and primary colors that acts as a centerpiece. She occasionally even wears it, but as a design it is her statement in an otherwise “guy room.”

The whole house is a kind of balance, bringing African and Asian culture—and Susan and Jarvis—into each room. On the mantle of the living room fireplace Jarvis built sits a bust of a man: an intricately detailed African woodcarving. Below it is another woodcarving, just as intricate but larger and more detailed, of the Buddha surrounded by tree branches and leaves.

Jarvis bought this ancient Arabic calendar on the island of Lamu while recovering from malaria. The light-colored pieces are bone, each one denoting 10 days.

The couple is considering moving again, but only fleetingly. Susan’s younger daughter, Megan, has traveled the world and worked with the Peace Corps in East Timor. “She’s thinking of going back,” said Susan. So the couple is considering moving to Bali. “It’s one of the most marvelous places on earth,” she said. They even took a batik textile art class while visiting there once, so if they don’t end up moving Bali, they can still bring Bali back to them.

05-01-2010

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