After Barbara and Andy Thornberg spent 35 years restoring their Eastlake-style Victorian home in Los Angeles, California, Barbara’s favorite room in the house is what she calls “The Dog Room.”
This bedroom is not just for guests; it is also for the Thornberg’s Great Dane, Cleo. “It’s her favorite room in the house; her perch from where she can keep tabs on all the dogs and people going about their business in the neighborhood,” Barbara says. “The only one she barks at is the mailman.”
Hanging on the walls of the room is Barbara’s collection of paintings and photos, all of which feature people and their dogs. She is fascinated by the relationship between dogs and their owners, and it all started with a Victorian-era photograph of a little girl praying by the bed with her dog by her side. From that point on, whenever she sees this subject in a vintage photograph or painting, she has to buy it. The collection includes a photo of Sarah Bernhardt with her Great Dane and one of Coco Chanel with her pooch. “Some of the subjects are famous people, but most are just of people of another age who are no longer with us,” Barbara says. “I find them lovely and poignant.”
Barbara’s interior-design background is showcased in the colors she uses, not just in the pink walls of the Dog Room but also in the deep fuchsia color in the master bedroom. Inspired by the crepe myrtle trees planted on the streets by the neighborhood association, Barbara likes strong colors. “You can get away with using such a bold color on the walls only if you use a light color on the floor and the ceiling.” The light that comes in through the window also helps brighten the fuchsia, let through by the balloon Roman shades installed within the window framework. Barbara admits it’s not what the Victorians would have done, but she chose it in order to show off the moldings.
“My philosophy is that a house is not a museum. I love Victoriana and Victorian pieces, but I take artistic license in mixing eras. I think it makes rooms more visually interesting,” Barbara says. “The Victorians were eclectic and would bring items back from their travels to mix in with traditional pieces and items that they had inherited. I continue in that vein. A house should be a reflection of your personality and what you love—I don’t think you have to put only one era of items into a vintage house.”
Thirty-five years later, she has no regrets. “I lived in plaster dust for a decade, and we were always working on something for 20 years. Now I can see it’s time to redo a few things,” Barbara says, with a gleam in her eye. “With a vintage home, you’re never finished.” But with a superb restoration team like the Thornbergs, that certainly seems like it’s part of the fun of being married.
If you missed the beginning of Barbara and Andy’s story, click here.
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by Jennifer Myers
Photography by Mark Tanner