French Lessons


What color! That’s the message your eyes send your brain as you step into interior designer Lynette Kleinfall’s East Sacramento home and take in hues straight from a platter of petit fours: minty-green sofa, raspberry-colored lampshades, butterscotch-yellow walls, a cherry-red side chair draped with a frothy shawl the color of pink fondant. Maybe  you’ve heard that interior designers check their color chips at the door, decking their private spaces in neutrals to give eyes and psyches a rest after toiling all day with color and pattern. Kleinfall’s home blows that theory all to little cake-colored bits. “At one point, I tried to live with ‘calming’ colors like whites,” she explains, “but it wasn’t long before I just kept throwing in more color … it’s funny, but when I come home, I can always relax.”

That Kleinfall and husband Joe Fornasero are in love with color and all things French is evident, from the floral needlepoint rug in their living room to Kleinfall’s elegantly accoutered home office in what was once a garage. How does she make all those colors and patterns work? “I don’t actually know,” Kleinfall says, laughing. “A lot of my friends have said, ‘Gee, Lynette, you really know how to mix things up.’ But I really just use what I like. We love our house and we have such fun with it.”

Pick out a chair, table, painting, lamp, clock or mirror chez Kleinfall-Fornasero, and you’ll get a story: an excursion to Carmel, a jaunt to St. Helena, a visit through the deep South or a journey to France. “We definitely shop when we travel, but I also shop quite a bit locally,” Kleinfall says, naming a few favorite haunts close to home: Cottage Girls and Fleuri in Carmichael; Fringe, Le Jardin and The French Hen in Sacramento. Fornasero is just as crazy for color and French culture as Kleinfall. “I’m so lucky because Joe has the same taste I do … he loves all of it. Oh, definitely, we are Francophiles.” When asked about her favorite design houses, she names three, all known for their signature French country style and innovative combos of pattern and color: Pierre Deux, Pierre Frey and Charles Faudree.

Just as always, these days Kleinfall is busy doing color consults. It’s no surprise to hear that she’s done about a “bazillion” in her career and that she’s getting more requests all the time as people search for ways to stretch those home-dec dollars. “That’s the thing they want to do now,” she says. “People get a real lift from color.… I tell them ‘be daring.’”

The guest bedroom is one of Kleinfall’s favorite places. A stack of design books (on the floor by a small table with a chinoiserie base) is always waiting for a spare moment. “I have all these ideas . . . sometimes I get up in the middle of the night and place things, you know, move things around.” She designed the canopy and dust ruffle and recently dressed the bed with linens by Yves Delorme, a French company that dates to the 19th century.