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Sunday, December 9 , 2018, 10:48 pm | Fair 51º


Judy Foreman: Blake Wood’s Design Roots — and Appreciation — Run Deep

With new Montecito showroom, design guru welcomes fellow professionals as well as fledgling clients with visions for a fresh look


In a town renowned for its natural beauty and Architectural Digest-quality homes and estates, it seemed fitting for Blake Wood to open a new fine fabric, trim and wallpaper design showroom in Montecito’s Upper Village.

With her young daughter, Brynn, Wood relocated to Montecito from Denver to be closer to her parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. She recently opened Blake Ashley Design in a 700-square-foot space at 1482 East Valley Road, Suite 41, next to the bustling Montecito Executive Services.

“Design has always been ‘a thing’ in my family,” she told Noozhawk.

Her mom was an interior designer, and Wood recalls the family’s Sunday ritual during her childhood in New Canaan, Conn., as church, brunch and touring the stately mansions of their community.

New Canaan was rich with acclaimed architects, and Wood had a connection to one of them: Philip Johnson, who designed and built the magnificent glass-steel-and-stone Wiley House, where she grew up.

Johnson was one of “The Harvard Five,” a group of Harvard-trained architects who settled in New Canaan in the 1940s. The pack — which also included Marcel Breuer, Landis Gores, John Johansen and Eliot Noyes — was influenced by Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus school of architecture.

In a community known for its clapboard Colonial homes, their bold new midcentury modern designs really stood out.

While living in Colorado, Wood gutted and remodeled her own house and fell in love with the process. She went on to do another totally different style of home, and then was asked by friends to remodel and stage their houses.

Before she knew it, Blake Ashley Design was born.

Her new showroom features indoor and outdoor designer fabrics, trim and wallpaper for the general public. She also has several lines of outdoor furniture, custom indoor furniture, lighting, rugs, drapery, hardware and Conrad Shades.

“I do all the sourcing of fabrics and products, and then the clients have their choice of using one of my trusted vendors (seamstresses, upholsterers, drapery specialists) or they can use their own,” she said.

Neatly arranged fabrics, and trims for upholstery, throw pillows, custom bedding, and window and wall treatments are readily accessible in the well-lit, open and airy studio. High-top tables make it easy to spread out the many fabrics and books that she and her clients use to help put together just the right look.

Professional designers doing large projects and retail customers looking to freshen up their homes are all welcome.

In response to an inquiry about popular trends, she noted that indoor/outdoor textiles have come a long way with their new performance fabrics — ideal for the Santa Barbara market, especially with kids, pets, pools and sand. They can be used for everything from draperies to upholstery, for barstools in the kitchen or pool house, and even for custom dog beds.

Wallpaper is definitely making a comeback, she added, and tribal-inspired fabrics are very on point.

Some of Wood’s favorite lines are Fortuny, Scalamandré, Pierre Frey, Jim Thompson, Osborne & Little, Calvin, Perenials, JANUS et Cie, Rogers & Goffigon, Peter Dunham, Schumacher, Kravet, Beacon Hill, Rubelli, Jasper, Elizabeth Dow, Glant, Clarence House, Villa Nova, Romo, de Le Cuona and Robert Allen.

Looking at idea books and drool-worthy samples, I asked the age-old question that has challenged many fine goods shops on the South Coast: How do you get the locals to shop here and not go to the bigger Los Angeles and San Francisco markets?

“That is exactly how I plan to compete,” Wood replied, “by saving people the trip and headaches of travel.

“Now the general public can shop for the same products that are offered at the design centers — with or without a designer.”

A grand opening will be announced soon. In the meantime, Blake Ashley Design is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, and by appointment only on Saturdays.

Click here for more information, or contact Wood at [email protected] or 805.695.0373.

— Judy Foreman is a Noozhawk columnist and longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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