A Willamette Valley Italianate Stucco Residence


When a couple hires their daughter to design their residence, they get the kind of personalized interiors only a family member can deliver. Jane and Rob Freres’ sprawling home in Turner, Oregon, intentionally has only one bedroom and includes premeasured storage for everything from his sunglasses to her handbag collection. “This house was laid out and conceived for just the two of us,” says Jane, a retired designer herself, who assembled a team that included her daughter, Holly Freres, to attend to every nuance.

For some industry professionals, the thought of working on their parents’ home might be daunting, but Holly was up to the task. “I wanted to make sure everything was totally customized to the way they live,” says Holly, who went so far as to count their sets of keys before designing a chest for stowing them. “I grew up watching my mother create classic interiors and also worked with her, so I had the advantage of already knowing her likes and dislikes.”

Landscape architect Craig Kiest also had an inside track. He had worked with the Frereses on a previous project, and this time he expanded his role to come up with the architectural design of Jane and Rob’s new home in addition to the landscape. Working closely with the owners, he developed an indoor-outdoor layout offering vantage points of the surrounding farmland and mountains, and a courtyard with formal gardens and outdoor rooms shaded by crepe myrtle trees. “Everything about the home is based on clean lines, so I created a low-profile parterre that extends the crispness of the architecture,” says Kiest.

With a plan established, residential designer Steven Pollard stepped in to tackle permits and offer technical support. Inside, Kiest also dreamed up interior architectural aspects in conjunction with the materials and finishes selected by Holly and Jane: think flush doors and baseboards, and even the exact dimensions for his-and-her closets and having the climate-control thermostats recessed so they didn’t interrupt the flow of the walls. “We treated the whole house like it was a Mercedes,” he says.

But Ferrari might be more fitting as the homeowners quickly settled on an Italian theme. “We honeymooned at the Villa San Michele, a 15th-century monastery in Fiesole, and fell in love with it. But with our damp climate, there aren’t many stucco houses in Oregon,” says Jane, noting she found a fourth-generation plasterer from Ireland to save the day with a layering process that prevents water damage.

Builder Tom Wheeler oversaw the demanding stucco and plaster work and attests to the high level of craftsmanship. “In order for the stucco to look as authentic as possible and fade with time, it was made with old-world concrete rather than an acrylic latex finish,” he says. “And the plaster walls are perfectly smooth throughout the house.”

According to Holly, the color selections for the interior and exterior walls reflect her parents’ different tastes and personalities. “He loves color, so the bright yellow stucco is totally Dad,” she says. “Inside, all the walls are Maritime white—classic like Mom, and the perfect backdrop for their extensive art collection.”

In the living room, the linen sofa topped with hand-painted silk pillows and the looped wool carpet speak to her mother’s aesthetic, while the high-gloss Art Deco cabinet was selected by both of them. But Kiest says when it came to the master bedroom, Rob had the final word. “I still remember when he told me, ‘I don’t want any light in my bedroom, not even in a window,’ ” says Kiest, who notes the master suite is positioned on the north side of the house. Decorating the windowless room was a challenge that was quickly met. “It was just a plain square space, so we added a corner fireplace to create an interior view,” says Holly; she plowed through books on Italian architecture to find the perfect fluted design. “Then we hung substantial art and selected furnishings to cozy things up, and even without windows it’s very luxurious.”

For her efforts, the offspring Freres earned both high praise and gratitude from her parent and former colleague. “I wanted everything to be clean and simple with soft colors and lines,” says Jane. “Holly knows us so well, so she had no trouble getting it right.”