It’s beginning to look a lot like a rustic Christmas at the lake.
You know how the song goes: Up on the housetop, reindeer pause. Out jumps good ol’ Santa Claus — from a canoe.
At least, that was the intent of interior designer Gail Claridge when she hung an antique wooden canoe from the rafters of her client’s Southern California lake house.
“The red, black, and ivory design resembled an Indian blanket,” Claridge says. “Although the inside of the canoe is equally beautiful, I knew it had to be displayed so the hand-painted bottom could be appreciated and seen from the moment you enter — yet not take away from the view.”
Christened the American Indian Fishing Lodge, this storybook home sits perched above Lake Sherwood and just south of Conejo Valley.
Get The Look
Polish the silver and dust off the family heirlooms. Ne’er will you find a more tasteful way to deck the halls — or the china cabinet — for the winter season. Here, some display-worthy ways to start your own collection.
Pewter Pheasants Salt and Pepper Set ($50) by Vagabond. Noble Elk Pewter Gravy Boat ($275) by Vagabond. Western Antler Casserole Dish ($297) by Beatriz Ball. Antler Butter Dish ($170) from Wyoming Home. Fluted Pewter Pitcher ($714) by Match. Antler Hurricane ($109) from the C&I Shop. Antler Centerpiece Bowl ($275) by Arthur Court.
“My inspiration for the American Indian décor came from the fact that the Chumash lived in that valley for many years,” Claridge says. “The original caves can be seen from the home. When I came upon the antique canoe, with the beautiful hand-painted bottom, I let that be my starting point.”
Claridge overhauled the original but “completely wrong” French-inspired aesthetic of the 10,000-square-foot lodge in favor of authentic wares and Old World craftsmanship. She shifted attention to stunning structural details like the Elk Mountain stone from Montana and the resplendent wooden floors, ceilings, beams, and mantles throughout the residence — all of which were hand-scraped and refinished to reflect a traditional, but informal, holiday scene.
Click the slideshow above to see more of the American Indian Fishing Lodge.
“This house was made for Christmas,” Claridge says. “I used a more natural approach with twigs, branches, feathers, birch, berries, pinecones, and live cedar garland. Red poinsettias were ornamentation enough for other areas, and of course Santa arrived in the red canoe.”
PHOTOGRAPHY: Mark Lohman/Courtesy Gail Claridge
From the November/December 2019 issue.