Written by LESLIE GREGORY HAUKOOS Photos by MICHAEL COONS
Red. It’s the color of passion, of blood, of fire.
Red is a color that cannot be ignored.
It’s also the bold visual statement that ties together the interior design of Bo and Dawn Eason’s Agoura Hills home.
It’s not often that one is surrounded by deep red walls soaring up some 18 feet. But, rather than overwhelm, this bold color statement serves to warm a cavernous space—a space designed for an active young family.
“The rooms are large, so they can carry it,” says designer Mary Radenbaugh, who is Dawn’s mother. “But you have to carry the color through the house.”
Dawn says Mary began with a three color samples: she already had the fabric for the kitchen shades, a red chenille they would use for the living room couch, and a taupe towel. “She used those three things and went from there,” Dawn recalls. “That’s where you have the continuity. And every single room has the taupe.”
As for the dramatic living room, Mary says “the only way to make it warmer and cozier was to take the dark color through the room.”
Mary, who owns à la Maison, a design business with a storefront in Westlake Village and a growing online clientele, loves all things French. Though she works in other styles as well, she says all of her design work is strongly influenced by European styles. But the Eason home is all French.
“My mom has always just really liked that style,” says Dawn. “She’s always said that when my friends were doing all that Hollywood glamour (in their homes) the trending styles would go quickly. The more traditional styles last longer.”
Though the design feels effortless, the process to get to that point involved extensive work. Mary, who is also a contractor, basically gutted the house. “We created the archways everywhere, opened the kitchen to the dining room, moved the bar in the family room,” Mary explains.
Some of the structural changes were just commonsensical, like adding a door that leads from the kitchen directly to the dining room.
Other changes were less obvious. Mary removed the freestanding bar in the family room and inset it into the wall, using space from an under-stair coat closet. That opened up the family room for a game table where the Eason kids—Eloise, Axel and Lyla—like to do homework.
Some of the hanging kitchen cabinets had to go to open up the space and, upstairs, Mary enclosed a loft area to make a bedroom with a dressing foyer for her eldest granddaughter, Eloise.
She also reconfigured the master suite to make the most of the space. The result is a bedroom, sitting room and a master bath that are both elegant and functional.
Mary has her own cabinet shop to craft the oversized, hand-carved and hand-distressed cabinetry, commissions her own iron work, and has furnishings made to her specifications.
“A lot of the time you can’t buy the stuff you’re looking for,” Mary explains. “That’s why I started designing what I needed.”
Bathroom vanities are among the pieces Mary designs. The Eason master bath has one of her vanities.
Many of the other furnishings in the Eason home are French antiques, others are reproductions that Mary has commissioned. And finishing touches, such as the fabrics for the kitchen Roman shades and upholstered breakfast chairs, are treasures she’s found in France on her biannual trips there.
The Morice stove is a French import. It’s situated beneath a handpainted vent that bears the initial of the Eason family. Cabinets are hand-carved, stained and distressed. The limestone counters butt against a Calcutta gold marble subway tile backsplash. The kitchen island is an antique French pastry table that Mary topped with a Calcutta gold marble slab. She had the legs lengthened to bring the island up to counter height.
An antique confectioners’ scale, by the sink, makes an interesting conversation piece.
But the design is all hers. “Everyone says our house is so homey,” says Dawn. “I feel like all of the homes my mom does are like that.”
That doesn’t mean they are filled with rough and tumble nonbreakables. Everywhere you turn in the Eason home there are fine antiques, crystal vases and other fragile pieces. All that, in a house with three kids? “You just have to teach them to take care of the house,” says Dawn. “The kids really appreciate the way our house looks and they like it.”
Mary agrees, and recalls how she taught her own kids how to respect fine things.
The end result is a home that works for the busy Easons—“busy” being a bit of an understatement.
After playing in the NFL for five years, Bo Eason wrote and performed a one-man stage play that ran both on- and off-Broadway—twice. The show, called “Runt of the Litter,” loosely tells the story of Bo and his brother Tony Eason, who also played in the NFL. The play is now being developed as a motion picture.
“I told myself if I can express myself on a stage the way I did on the field, I’ll be employable,” Bo explains.
Out of that success grew The Bo Eason Experience, the motivational company he now runs with wife Dawn. She books and produces the shows and Bo’s on stage, coaching people on how to tell their own stories, whether for business or personal success.
Those speaking engagements frequently take Bo and Dawn on the road. The couple also entertains clients, so they need a house that can comfortably suit large groups.
“When my mom is doing a house she always asks, ‘how is this going to flow for the parties?” says Dawn.
“You definitely want a house that’s livable and comfortable,” Mary says.
And, in this case, a home that’s oh-so-magnifique.
The breakfast table is a French antique reproduction Mary had made and imported.
She found the fabrics for the Roman shades and breakfast chairs in France.
The master bedroom is sparsely furnished for a simple, elegant effect.
The oversized vanity, one of Mary’s designs, is a focal point in the spacious master bath.
Gilded mirrors and light fixtures bring a touch of old world charm to the room.