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Three years ago, when John Lauppe first saw a home for sale in Arden Arcade, the inside was decked to the nines in trappings of French country style. He remembers red and yellow walls, cabinetry tricked out with pediments and cornices, faux painting galore and images of monkeys “everywhere.” While Lauppe spied potential under all that French outfitting, he called Sacramento interior designers Gary T. Johns and Tom Howell of Gary T. Johns & Associates before he sealed the deal. “I asked them to come and see what I could do with it,” he says. Looking back, Howell says, “It wasn’t a bad-looking house. John just needed a new look.” Lauppe describes his style at the time as traditional and says his goals for the house were pretty simple: “I was trying to go more minimal and not so cluttered, as had been my habit in the past. I wanted something more modern, contemporary.” And so a massive remodel of the circa-1969 one-story ranch began. The overhaul unified the living and dining room spaces, visually connected the kitchen and family room, and completely reworked the master bedroom suite. French country ornaments tumbled down, a wall in the entry was demolished, a spare bedroom became a home office, and both bathrooms were gutted, redesigned and rebuilt. The former owner had updated the kitchen, but Johns and Howell added dash with an Italian glass-tile backsplash, built-in wine rack and eating nook. They also replaced the home’s patchwork of carpet and tile with textural hand-scraped bamboo and chose three tones of maize-yellow paint for the walls. “We really went for warmth in the palette,” Johns says, explaining that the mellow tones create a neutral backdrop for Lauppe’s collection of American, African and Asian art and for several freshly framed family heirlooms, including a Victorian beaded bell pull that belonged to his grandmother.
Having worked with Lauppe on several of his homes, Johns and Howell knew he was no stranger to contemporary style. His San Francisco condo, for example, has all the leather, glass and steel you’d want in a big-city high-rise with heart-stopping views of the cityscape. This project, though, called for a warmer, more relaxed interior. “Over the years, John’s style has really been evolving,” Johns says. Howell adds: “He’s gone from Ralph Lauren to [Giorgio] Armani—from very tasteful and traditional to more minimal and sophisticated.” The designers took Lauppe to their favorite San Francisco showrooms for furnishings and to Kneedler-Fauchère for fabrics. “John’s great to work with because he was so interested and involved in the choices,” Johns says. After the excursions, the designers pared down the selections. “I get a little overwhelmed if there are too many choices,” Lauppe says, “so they’d come to me and say, ‘Here’s five things,’ and I’d say, ‘Hmm, not that one, not that one. Hmm, I like that one,’ and we’d go from there. There were always options involved.” And not a one had even the slightest trace of French country.