|As seen in Today's Woman magazine (Louisville, Kentucky)
A room with a view is so commanding everything else takes a back seat until you have given it its proper due. So is the case with Fran Jasper and Joe Tousi's Federal style home near Brownsboro Road. The enormous plate glass picture window in the living room is so domineering it calls to you from the moment you open the front door, drawing you further into the house until you're standing at the window acknowledging the sweeping view of the lawn so graceful it needs no extra adornment.
Jasper and Tousi are the second owners of the 51-year-old home and very grateful it had not been touched, saving them from paying for someone else's taste. After one year of renovation work followed by two years of living in their home, they clearly have a style uniquely their own. Although they both are involved in its creation, it is Jasper who takes the lead design role. Having an innate gift for design, Jasper backed it up with a degree in design from the University of Louisville and also attended Parsons School of Design in New York City. Professionally she does not work as a designer but works with them daily while running their business of 20 years, Francis Lee Jasper Oriental Rugs. Not only does she work with designers, many of them she considers her close friends. A handful of friends helped her develop ideas for the renovation, however, it was Jasper who made
the final call. Remarkably, an architect was not used for the renovation. She was not worried about keeping the period consistent. If someone tells me its a mistake I don't really care, says Jasper. She likes to design for Tousi and herself.
The renovation consisted of tearing down walls, adding a lot of crown molding, opening up stairways, remodeling the kitchen and service area, and refinishing and staining the herringbone hardwood floors dark, making a more dramatic backdrop for their collection of antique rugs. Contrasting the hardwood floors, she had installed a new contemporary floor of 18 x 18 filled travertine marble, resembling limestone, with bronze cabochons from Ann Sacks in the hallway and kitchen/service area. In fact, not just the floors but the entire kitchen design is contemporary, with stainless steel countertops and appliances, travertine backsplash, combined with straight vertical cream painted cabinets with no hardware, creating a subtle monochromatic color scheme. Warmth is brought into the kitchen with an adjacent granite bar top in soft brown and beige.
Throughout the house the larger living areas are designed in subtle colors leaving the drama for the bathrooms. Faux finisher and artist Bob Kotheimer painted Jasper's bathroom walls a Tuscany sunset umber simulating a Pompeian fresco. Black marble floors, again with bronze cabochons, add elegance to her boudoir.
Jasper's love for antiques is very strong, yet difficult for her to express in words. She can only say, Antiques have a patina you can't get in new furniture and reproductions. Only age can give it that character. That's why the older pieces are more expensive and more scarce. More succinctly put, Either you get it or you don't, adds Tousi.
Half the fun for Jasper and Tousi is looking for just the right piece of furniture, accessory, or rug. As always, patience is a virtue. She has been looking for an antique rug for the foyer for three years now. A new rug is temporarily warming the place of the one to be found.
Key to their eclectic style is the way in which Jasper shops. She shops often and buys what she likes without a thought of where it will go. Once she brings her treasures home she finds a place for them, but in most cases it will not be permanent. She likes moving things around, changing things all the time. Her only consistency is her impeccable taste for fine pieces with graceful, simple lines, and almost always old.
Creating their home the way they like it is a process. At one time or another Jasper is working on different projects for the house. Currently she is having artist Ann Peabody paint a trompe l'oeil on the dining room walls that is so large and detailed it will take five weeks to complete. And just recently Jasper changed a red powder room to black layered with lacquer. The red didn't turn out like she had hoped. It looked terrible, says Jasper. When it comes to design Jasper is not afraid to go out on a limb. As always, however, quality craftsmanship is there.
Jasper's eye for quality was firmly rooted very early on. When she was just a college student she took her entire savings and bought five rugs at an estate sale. Even though they were not to her liking, she knew they were quality rugs. Taking them to a rug store she traded them for rugs more to her taste. That gutsy move paved the way for two life-changing events. The owner of the rug store recognized Jasper's eye for quality and hired her to work for him, and six years later, equipped with knowledge, she went out on her own. As fate would have it, something else happened that day. Joe Tousi, her future husband, was in the store. Tousi, of Iranian decent, was there on business buying antique rugs, but saw something else Fran Jasper. I got impressed thinking about a college kid already trying to do antique business of buying and selling. Tousi and Jasper have been together
for 20 years and married for four years.
Jasper is modest and reluctant to take credit for her home design, but her husband pays her the ultimate complement. I am really happy. I walk in this place and it makes me feel good to come home. Especially the things she and I purchased over the last several years because they bring a memory to me. I love our home.