Cottage in the woods: This renovated Mission Hills ranch exudes rustic European flair

Jungle Bungalow, as Maddie and Drew Sutherland call their Mission Hills home, is a study in contrasts, a profusion of nature surrounding a trimmed and tidied ranch.

The property was formerly owned by a pair of master gardeners who hardscaped and planted nearly every inch of soil.

“I love how densely planted it all is,” Maddie says. “The house is enveloped in lush gardens.”

She has dedicated herself to maintaining the grounds since completing renovations on the house, a gift to themselves as newlyweds, last fall.

“We found the home as something to look forward to, a place to build together as a married couple,” she recalls. “We bought it when we were engaged. The last test was this collaboration before… forever.”  

Maddie, who previously worked in industrial development, took on lead design.

“I love interior decorating, but my soulmate is really renovating,” she says. “I think base trim is just as important as the furniture you have.”

Drew, whose family owns the Sutherlands chain of home improvement stores, provided support (both verbal and lumber-related) and kept his new wife realistic.

“He inspired me to go masculine with certain things and not so froufrou,” she notes.

Big changes came to the 1960s floor plan when they tore down interior walls that partitioned off small rooms. The openness better suits the couple’s casual lifestyle.

“We want a house that’s not grand and glam, but a comfortable place to lounge, grab a blanket and cuddle up,” Maddie says. “It’s important to us to have a place that’s not too formal but still high-end.”

The living room configuration is a perfect example. Maddie sourced an Italian tapestry that once hung in legendary author Gore Vidal’s house and encased it in an over-scaled glass box as a coffee table.

“It has all the richness and color I wanted, plus I love the history of it,” she gushes.

A second contrast is the pairing with four white, cushy Restoration Hardware Cloud sofas.

“I can actually make nine conversions with this set,” Maddie says. “I believe furniture should be able to be moved around for an instant refresh or a party.”

Her knack for beautiful and unusual pairings distinguishes the interiors in a way that she completely owns. The blend of modern and antique is striking, yet relatable.

“Everyone asks me my style, and I’m not sure I have one,” Maddie admits. “I like an environment where things contradict.”

For instance, she describes the kitchen as Rustic Modern, the dining room as Primitive, and there are hints of European aristocracy a la “Downton Abbey,” one of Maddie’s favorite TV shows. However categorized, the spaces “talk” to each other without dissonance.

“A continuing theme throughout the house is that each room is different in its own right,” Maddie says. “It evokes some emotion or conversation when you’re in it.”

There are the obvious luxury draws in the kitchen, with its CornuFé stove, custom curved hood, soapstone countertops and separate Perrin & Rowe prep sink faucets she ordered from the U.K. and had converted. But it’s the smaller details such as the end grain tiled wood floor and brass baseboard that prove Maddie’s dedication to the complete picture.

She also purposely placed the island barstools on the sides to prevent the feeling of a barrier between the kitchen and living room, then finished the outward-facing end with campaign-style hardware on deep drawers.

Maddie is a proud cook.

“We host friends at least once a week. It’s the way I like to show love — through food,” she says.

When just lounging at home with cups of coffee, the couple opens the full-size appliance garage and enjoys their bolt of energy at the breakfast nook, with its English Walnut tilt table and three Carimate Italian midcentury chairs.

To accommodate larger parties, the couple turned the original formal living room into an oversized dining room. There, a painted ceiling creates drama.

“A black ceiling brings a level of intimacy to the room,” she says. “Everyone’s eyes look up, and then there are these Brutalist fixtures by Tom Green from the mid-‘60s. I bought one in New York and one from L.A. and hung them together.”

Replica Cassina Cab chairs surround a custom table made locally by Wicked Grain. A 19th-century workbench from Turin, Italy acts as a buffet or bar. Maddie overwinters plants in the room’s large bay window.

The couple tells guests to “go to the Egyptian” in the corner — a theater prop sarcophagus turned tequila bar — for whatever before- or after-dinner vice they desire.

Maddie again went bold with dark colors in the library, where a deep forest green Ralph Lauren weave wallpaper on the walls — and ceiling! — evokes the memory of time spent at The Polo Bar in New York. Its masculine nature would have been ideal for Drew’s whiskey and cigar lounge, yet it quickly became the go-to ladies’ choice.

“It’s perfect for entertaining a few people,” Maddie says.

When nights go long, the couple offers up a Provence-inspired spare bedroom with adjoining Euro Glam bathroom, featuring a Rococo mirror positioned inside the window frame; a lighted, vaulted ceiling; and a kneeling prayer chair — just because.

A converted antique dresser and water-resistant shower drapes hung close to the ceiling mask the otherwise functional business of the room.

The master bedroom suite is an L-shape space with garden access that occupies a remote corner of the house. A favorite retreat for Maddie is the squared-edge soaker tub with its backdrop of “lollipop” trees; her husband’s is the Calcutta-tiled glass steam cube. A daily perk for both is the glass-doored walk-in closet with lighted shelves like those in high-end department stores.  

At 30, Maddie is already an experienced designer and fast becoming a serial renovator. Her previous residence was featured in this magazine in 2015. Although some of her belongings and style moved with her, the overall look didn’t. In a few short years, her modernity has evolved with considerable warmth.

“I never want to do the same thing twice,” she says.

And you can bet she won’t. Each auction she attends, every design inspiration that moves her, inspires something fresh and exciting. She is already designing for friends and family and recently launched MC Montague Interiors to extend her services to others.  

“I always start to get an itch for a new project,” she says.

 

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