Precision Arts at Home
Makers of gorgeous gates, stained-glass windows, country chic furniture, intricate tile settings, and engineered steel staircases find inspiration from their surroundings and the past for contemporary home design.
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These darlings make country chic.
By Andrea Firth
CAROLE SINCLAIR AND KIM BERRY are “pickers.” They travel throughout the East Bay and beyond in their bright yellow ’72 Chevy truck looking for vintage farm treasures to repurpose into something fun and functional for the home. So an old galvanized steel funnel transforms into a light fixture, a chicken feeder turns into a centerpiece, and a cherry picking ladder becomes a towel rack.
“The name Farmyard Darlings has really become synonymous with our style,” Berry said of the pair’s furniture store of the same name. That style is country chic and unpretentious with a bit of sass, what the Darlings call “farmalicious.”
The Farmyard Darlings also specialize in creating custom furniture from reclaimed wood. “We love the great old furniture designs, and we’re recyclers at heart,” said Sinclair. The Darlings do the finding and designing and work with a team of expert craftsmen to create tables, benches, bars, mantels, and doors made from Douglas fir, redwood, and ash. All are sourced from California, and all are American made.
The Farmyard Darling retail store in Lafayette carries a selection of home accents (think vintage blue mason jars, cattle feed pillows, and painted wood American flags) along with a variety of custom furniture like a coffee table made from an old horse trough and an outdoor bar on wheels. Their farmyard furniture and collectibles are available to rent for parties and events, too. Last year, the ladies launched an e-commerce site with their favorite gift items like burlap horse totes, antler bottle openers, and hanging horseshoe chalkboards. And the Farmyard Darling apparel, fitted sweatshirts and trucker hats that feature the company name and five-point star logo, has become a favorite of the brand’s followers and folks around the world.
Everyone who visits the Farmyard Darling retail store gets a big smile and a “howdy” as they walk through the door. Sinclair and Berry, both cowgirls at heart, are easygoing and put their customers first, often going in search of vintage finds.
Vintage Treasures and Custom Furniture
3295 Mount Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, 925-818-1038
Forget the Grid
Riley Doty sees tiles as brilliant and precious gemstones.
By David Weinstein
WHEN IT COMES TO SETTING tile, Riley Doty can do it all. But he doesn’t.
Recalling his apprenticeship, he said, “What we were being trained to do essentially was to do mediocre tile work at a really high rate of speed, and I wanted to go in a different direction.”
Thirty-plus years later, Doty specializes in period, often Arts & Crafts era, homes that have been “‘remuddled’ over the years” and need care. Doty, an Oakland tile historian and collector, isn’t looking for jobs where “the main thing is simply to make the little squares march along on a grid.”
One client who’s restoring fireplaces in a Julia Morgan home is the sort Doty appreciates. The client obtained antique tile, planned the work for years, and wanted it right. “You don’t want to take shortcuts at this point,” Doty said, adding that the tile setter and client must “hang with all the twists and turns and give it the most sensitive application that you can both come up with.”
Doty is no designer himself, but enjoys contributing his thoughts to the process. He knows how tile was used in past eras and can re-create the look. “I love the material,” he said of tile. “The colors are eternal and unfading in the same way as gemstones and glass. I’m captivated by that. The buildings don’t last that long, the world changes all around us, things are plowed under, but this material is so lasting it just blows my mind. If you do something that’s going to last for a hundred years, then it’s worth it to do everything you can just to make it how you want it, exactly.”
Historic Tile Setting
2179 E. 27th St., Oakland
Precision Arts at HomeMakers of gorgeous gates, stained-glass windows, country chic furniture, intricate tile settings, and engineered steel staircases find inspiration from their surroundings and the past for contemporary home design.
Photos by Stephen Loewinsohn