Inspiration Calls

By Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer


usan Scott is a self-avowed “apartment dweller” — and it suits her just fine. The current executive director of the Ventura Music Festival has lived in many places throughout her illustrious career, and the advantages of renting versus owning — the simplicity and freedom that come with less space and no mortgage — have been as appealing to her in beachside Ventura as in the glamorous metropolises of New York and Chicago. 

Lack of ownership hasn’t prevented Scott from putting her very distinctive stamp on her rental. Art collected through the years, pieces refurbished with the help of talented friends, most available space (including the bathroom and the kitchen) devoted to display — Scott knows what she likes, and doesn’t hesitate to incorporate it into her life. Every inch reflects the personality of this art lover and culture maven. 

Our inner lives do tend to walk right through the door and find their way onto our walls, counters and tabletops.

The deeply spiritual Jerry Jones was an avid outdoorsman who spent decades of his life studying and teaching meditation. When he built his enormous Ojai estate, he came up with elegantly curved walls, swooping beams and rooms that don’t conform to specific shapes, but flow from one to the next, mimicking the inherent roundness and flow present in nature. It is this quality, even more so than the detached meditation room or the Tibetan prayer wheels, that speak to the “Zen essence” that informed Jones’ approach to life.

The talented and gregarious Colene Riffo is a fan of music and art, and a musician herself, with a penchant for throwing parties. When she remodeled a 1920s Midtown bungalow, she opened it up, opened it out, and added a piano, outdoor spa and several patios. It’s now the perfect place to entertain friends and family, organize a house concert, jam with fellow musicians and display local art. 

Even the simple garden ornaments available through East-West TeaHouse become a canvas for personal expression, consciously or not. Where they are placed, how they are used, the way they are customized and change through time all say something about what their owners need and value. Company head Stephen Bauer has found that his tea houses contain a universe of meaning and possibility, embodying in their basic structure a philosophy as simple and elegant as a haiku.

From a chic apartment to an impressively large property, stories in our fall home and garden issue show that style flourishes anywhere that personality and interior design meet. It’s not the size of the canvas that makes those internal landscapes manifest, but the force with which inspiration knocks on the door, demanding to be let in.


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