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John Stefanon's home
Artist Dylan McNamara's drawing "Between the Middle" hangs above interior designer John Stefanon's writing desk in the sunroom of his Chestnut Hill home. (Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)

Forces of nature

CHESTNUT HILL - It's difficult to imagine that anyone would want to tamper with the original curves or charm of interior designer John Stefanon's 1930s Dutch Colonial, but when he and his partner bought the house three years ago, they also inherited plans for expanding the four-bedroom home. Stefanon promptly set the plans aside and started working on turning the space into one that reflects his eclectic tastes.

"When we were taking down the wallpaper in the back bedroom someone had written on the wall, 'Thomas Linden slept here, December 25, 1935.' On the other corner, there was a drawing of a dog and it said 'Bob Hope is my hero,' " Stefanon recalls. "We'd much rather have a place with that kind of character than a McMansion."

Stefanon, who designed the club District and the recently opened Stil in the Natick Collection, is most fond of the home's living room. Every unglazed ceramic vase, piece of art, or stick of furniture has meaning for Stefanon and partner Michael Gackstetter. The two floor lamps on either side of the fireplace are French walking sticks that Stefanon found and had turned into lighting. The mirrors flanking the sofa are framed with painted tree roots, reflecting his connection with nature.

"It's several styles mixed all together," he says. "But it works."

The inspiration for rooms is as varied as the decor. A sunny breakfast room overlooking the backyard was inspired by the Will Ferrell movie "Elf" - wintery and gray with a custom-made twig chandelier hanging in the center of the room. The master bedroom, dominated when the couple bought the home by a four-poster bed, has been updated into a serene, quiet escape. Two other bedrooms have been designed for each man's mother, giving them a retreat that reflects their personalities.

In the basement, a former exercise room has been converted into family room where the couple watches TV with their pets. Stefanon left the basement's original bar intact because of its unique, stable-like design.

"This is the longest we've lived in one place," he says. "We're in no rush to leave. So much of the house is an extension of us and our interests that we really enjoy spending time here."

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