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Design Ideas
A Fresh Take on A British Colonial Cottage
An interior designer pours her expertise into her own home and invigorates British colonial style with bright colors and patterns.
The thought of interiors that’ve been untouched for 30 years might be daunting to some— but that wasn’t the case for Roxanne Hughes Packham. When she first surveyed the Santa Rosa Valley house that she and her husband would call home, she wasn’t intimidated. She saw the 1970s cabinets, the lack of woodwork or ceiling... Keep Scrolling
Written by AUTUMN KRAUSE
Photography by MARK LOHMAN
Styling by JICKIE TORRES


The thought of interiors that’ve been untouched for 30 years might be daunting to some— but that wasn’t the case for Roxanne Hughes Packham. When she first surveyed the Santa Rosa Valley house that she and her husband would call home, she wasn’t intimidated. She saw the 1970s cabinets, the lack of woodwork or ceiling details, and even the walls in every room featuring various shades of orange paint as a worthy challenge. She says, “I saw through to the bones of the home … plus, the view was incredible.” It was the perfect canvas on which to paint her love of British Colonial Style.

Living space with vaulted and beamed white ceilings and a British colonial styled living room with dark wooden and blue accents.
This living space is pretty blue, but there’s nothing sad about it. What a cheerful display of gorgeous shades of blue everywhere you look.

Of course, as the owner and designer of Sunset and Magnolia Design, she had just the right credentials to turn the orange-hued home into the perfect empty-nester retreat. With a love for artisanal craftsmanship inherited from her grandfather, a passion for fabrics honed at the Paris Fashion Institute and years of traveling in Europe, she poured all her expertise into her home. “One of the things I love about design is the way we can incorporate things we love into the very essence of the building,” Roxanne says. “I did that in every space, and it’s now just the right home for my husband, our children home visiting from college and our very spoiled Shih Tzu, Samson.”

Antique wooden console in the entryway topped with tall candlesticks and a fern, also displaying vintage suitcases underneath.
STYLISH STORAGE. Old suitcases reflect Roxanne’s love of traveling and provide a chic storage option—right in plain sight. The console is an antique and once belonged to Clark Gable!

BRITISH COLONIAL STYLE

The home has a traditional British colonial feel. Roxanne says, “British colonial is a great design style because it can encompass things from all over the world.” The global touches allow her to share stories of her travels without saying a word. For example, the handmade South African chandelier hanging in the dining room. The chandelier was made by women and children suffering from AIDS. “The shipping was expensive, as you can imagine,” Roxanne says. “But my clients and I love that while we are making our homes beautiful, we are also making a difference in others’ lives as well.”

I love that while we are making our homes beautiful, we are also making a difference in others’ lives as well.

Full creamy hydrangea flowers in a clear vase on the table next to silver candlesticks on a wooden dining table with vibrant blue patterned curtains in the background.
Fresh florals are ALWAYS a great idea in the home. They bring life and vibrance to your indoor spaces.

Along with the Ikat print drapes, the chandelier is the focal point of the dining room, which Roxanne specifically sought to make formal. “My grandfather was a silversmith who specialized in silver, so we always had ‘formal’ dinners growing up,” she says. “Mind you, it could have been canned peaches, but it was on china with good silver.”

Antique French wooden truss table near a wall of double French doors with a small fluffy white pup looking on .
GATHER ROUND. For Roxanne, the shape of furnishings is an important consideration in the flow of a room. “I usually like a round table for a breakfast nook,” she says. “But it didn’t work for this room, so I went for a beloved antique French table that I got from my mom.”

She created an elegant dining room with Thibaut grasscloth walls, wainscoting and leather chairs. The result is a room that’s breezy yet communicates a sophistication that draws guests in. “I love the idea of honoring every person who joins us at our table,” Roxanne says. “I do this by sharing the beauty of slowing down and enjoying a beautifully set table.”

Light and bright family room with large leather topped ottoman, light colored couches and touches of warn brown tones and faux animal-hide textures.
NATURAL INTEREST. Unexpected new textures bring a sense of wonder and anticipation to guests visiting Roxanne’s home. In the family room, she introduces faux animal-hide touches that are as functional as they are fascinating. “They are 100% polyester, so I can scrub it if need be,” she says.

She also played with scale in other ways by artfully hanging the curtain rods an extra foot above the windows. “It makes the room feel taller.”

Regal British colonial formal dining space with a bright chandelier, double pedestal table and leather high-back chairs.
FABRIC AFFAIR. After falling in love with textiles while studying at the Paris Fashion Institute, Roxanne made the drapes the focal point of the dining room. “I think every room needs drapes to frame the windows and complete the room,” she says. “Since I love beautiful fabric, it was another excuse to use it. I was careful because of the gorgeous view and didn’t block even one inch of windows with the drapes.”

SCALED SPACE

When Roxanne toured the living room, she noticed that the ceiling was “crying out” for a little detail. Painted faux beams were just the right thing and, while she was at it, she also painted the ’70s brick and wood-paneled fireplace white, which visually shrank it to scale with the rest of the room. “I think the huge fireplace scared and stumped the other prospective buyers,” she says. “But as soon as I saw it, I knew I would paint it white.”  She also played with scale in other ways by artfully hanging the curtain rods an extra foot above the windows. “It makes the room feel taller,” she says.

White, brick, walk-around fireplace, separating the dining from another seating area with blue rug, ottomoman and throw pillows accenting the white furniture.
COLOR SMARTS. Blue is a happy pop of color seen throughout the home in various shades. Roxanne especially likes it in a navy incarnation, saying, “navy blue is so neutral and classic. It is very durable as well, because you cannot see dirt.” This is especially important with little paws—Samson can enjoy the home without leaving too much of a trace!

One of the things I love about design is the way we can incorporate things we love into the very essence of the building.

When it came to styling, she followed her instincts, prioritizing her sense of art over any technical approach. “For the mix-and-match throw pillows and different patterns on the furniture, rug and ottoman, I am instinctual,” she says. “I make sure they feel good together, rather than matching colors. If I love the fabric, then I use it, which is always the same advice I give my clients.”

BREAKFAST WITH A VIEW

With the Santa Monica mountains on the horizon, Roxanne made sure her design decisions allowed for ample enjoyment of the view. “In our breakfast nook, we made sure the room was very open,” she says. “The doors lead to a large deck, and they are propped open most of the time.” When nature is a bit intense, lined drapes can be drawn for comfort. Roxanne also used open-back chairs to leave the mountain range unobstructed and continued the neutral color scheme seen throughout the home. For styling, she used an antique French table and chairs along with white cushions.

Wrap around deck with white metal dining bistro set arranged for a fresh breakfast with a view of expansive mountains.
PROJECT MANAGED. Since Roxanne is an expert herself, she knew how to tackle her new home. While homeowners often see their projects take longer than anticipated, she was able to do the entire house, inside and out, in just three months. “I know how contractors do the best work, in terms of time and budget,” she says. “So I knew how to get what I needed and when.”

There’s a lot of wood in the breakfast nook—the doors, floors, table and chairs—yet Roxanne boldly combined it all together. “My secret is that I never match,” she says. “The melding of different patinas is beautiful. I always lean toward darker woods, with a brown or black tone rather than a warm tone.” Now, she and her husband can enjoy coffee in the presence of the mountains every morning.

Outdoor deck seating area with open pergola and rattan style sectional with blue accent cushions.
SOFT SURROUNDINGS. Durability, utility and comfort were the priorities for this outdoor dining space, along with gorgeous textiles. Since Roxanne has a love of fabrics, she incorporated them into her outdoor living spaces with cushions and throw pillows.

British colonial is a great design style because it can encompass things from all over the world.

Regal British colonial style bedroom with two luxurious twin beds and blue linen textures walls.
A PLACE OF REGAL REST. These twin beds welcome guests with comfort and luxury. Guest bedroom or hotel suite?

Want more simply beautiful ideas? Check out this post on a gorgeous yard with a similar vibe. 

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