Home & Garden

The De Leon-Kohn home in Paso Robles: Yours, mine and ours - sustainably

The living room combines vintage and modern elements.
The living room combines vintage and modern elements. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

When Eliana de León married Randy Kohn two years ago, it was a blending of families — and of belongings.

All coexist in the couple’s 1995-built ranch-style house that sits on five acres in Paso Robles.

Between them, Kohn and de León have five grown daughters who visit frequently with their families. They also came to the relationship with distinct preferences and their own sense of style. De León, who owns Eliana Interior Design, was game to make it all work together.

What they had in common was an interest in sustainability, and in creating a sense of place. “We decided that, if we bought anything new, it would either need to be sustainable, or be the work of a local artisan,” said de León.

In many cases, “sustainable” meant working with what they already possessed. Their woodwork, for instance, was a country-style golden oak incongruous with the home’s new contemporary bent. Instead of ripping out and starting anew, the homeowners had everything — floors, trim, cabinets , and staircase — stripped and refinished. The floors were stained an espresso brown. For contrast, they had cabinets painted a creamy hue they call “Swiss coffee.”

The yellow nylon carpet could not be rescued, however. The couple was after an organic feel, so de León chose new carpeting in wool with a jute backing. “Jute is a natural vegetable fiber,” she explained. “Both these products are rapidly renewable.”

They chose recycled and repurposed items whenever possible. In the dining room, an old wine press is now a pedestal for an heirloom bronze statue. Several tables by Atascadero woodworker Andy Needles are made from salvaged local woods. The master bath is clad in glass mosaic tiles made from recycled beer bottles. Kohn quipped that it’s their own version of “99 bottles of beer on the wall.”

Furniture and accessories were a tricky matter. Each person came with a full house of furniture, so they culled from their collection items that work with the elegant contemporary feel of the home, as well as its neutral color scheme.

It helps that de León is unafraid of contrast.

In the living room, vintage chairs share space with modern Barcelona chairs. Above the fireplace mantel, she juxtaposed a hand-carved wood deer head with the couple’s combined collection of crystal candle holders and vases. “I love the idea of the natural wood beside a manmade product,” she said.

Together, they purchased art and accents that reflect the wildlife that is abundant around their new home. Of course, de León made sure no creatures were harmed in the process. In the foyer are metal bat sculptures purchased at a Cambria gallery. The front door handles are deer antlers of de León’s design, rendered in metal by Matt Canaday of Canaday Designs. A chandelier made of naturally shed antlers crowns the dining room table.

Both de León and Kohn held on to collections that reflect their individual histories and interests. Kohn, a retired investment banker, enjoys reading and has a large collection of classic books that de León was happy to work into the decorating scheme. “Books create a pattern and give a room a cozy feel,” she said.

De León, who is partly of Guatemalan heritage, displays Mexican ceramics inside a faux fireplace in her office. She made a headboard slipcover out of handmade Guatemalan fabric that she found in a Morro Bay vintage shop. Later, a family member discovered that its bright and intricate pattern includes frolicking deer. According to de León, it was just one of many happy coincidences in this home where many divergent things have come together — with beautiful results.

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