I first met Debbie Conner at where she was re-crafting her booth with the zeal of a serious artist. With one broad stroke, she moved a picture frame; then in a tiny, exacting motion, she turned it ever so slightly.
As I watched this out of the corner of my eye, I tried to stay invisible and continued to peruse her vintage baubles.
But a few moments later, after photographing one of her bracelets for my holiday shopping guide, Conner and I got to talking about The Bungalow, my work, and our love of style in general. She mentioned that if I was ever interested, she'd love to show me her home which was "full of art" similar to the pieces I’d been admiring in her booth, and just a bit "weird."
I chuckled politely, slightly uncomfortable that she used the word "weird" as an adjective to describe her home. However, a few months later, I pulled up to her terra-cotta home and wondered if I was in the right place, because the place looked so normal.
But, as soon as I stepped inside, I realized Conner wasn’t exaggerating when she told me her home was outside the box.
Conner, her husband, and their son moved to the Agoura Hills area about twenty years ago from Northridge.
Her husband is in the furniture business, which Debbie said, “is odd because I have hardly any furniture in my house.” Her son currently lives in San Francisco.
When the family first moved into their home, Conner’s inspiration for decorating was practical. “I thought ‘how am I going to make this house nice, without spending a lot of money?’ I’ve always garaged, I’ve always gone to thrift stores, and I’ve always liked odd ball things. I would wake up every Saturday morning and go out garaging,” she said.
The result is a home pulsating with color, eclectic artwork and personalized details. It seemed, as I strolled down the hallways, as if I was walking inside of a meticulously crafted art project.
In reality, that observation is not far off. Conner has done most of the painting and artwork herself and revived many of the antiques she’s found over the years.
“I think that antiques need to live again,” she said. And I noted there’s a lot of them living in her home. From antique mannequins to a gussied up hairdressing chair, the antiques are ubiquitous.
There’s also some clear themes running through the home, including bursts of color. “I was always the hippie, the artsy fartsy, and I think that’s where the art came from because it was self expression. I’m not afraid of color, and I think that has a lot to do with being a hippie, because we wore everything then," she said.
And though she loves to play with color, Conner realized that not everyone shares her bravery.
“A lot of people just won’t even go there. There’s a couple of places down the road that are just all the same, and I think its gonna get old eventually," she said. "It’s like, throw a purple pillow in there or throw a couple sparkles in there!”
There’s quite a few sparkles in the Conner family home, and there isn’t a corner of the house that is left undecorated, unpainted or unloved. Walls serve as galleries, and according to Conner, “there’s never enough wall space.”
If there isn’t any wall space left, there’s always room to evolve, she said.
“My husband says you never know whats gonna go on the wall, everything is always changing,” she said.
The evolution is due, in part, to Conner’s creative mind. She said, “It's always a free flowing creativity that never stops. Its almost like I can't turn my mind off.”
She also appears to have an innate ability to draw inspiration from a bevy of sources.
“Just recently I went to Spain, and we were in Barcelona. It was almost like I got reincarnated," said Conner. "But, I get inspiration from walking down the street. Its not that I'm copying something; it's just that I think I can make that better.”
And though her style and artwork are inspired by outside sources, the home's aesthetic remains true to the personality of the artist shaping its style.
“This is definitely a reflection of who I am, you know, I am nuts," she said. "So it works out just fine.”
If you think your home is unique and you'd like to share your story in our newest Stylish Living column please contact Jessica Hagy.