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T The coastal plot is set in the rolling hills north of Santa Barbara, with views of the Santa Ynez Mountains. he drive to Ruthie Sommers’s ranch north of Santa Barbara, California, conjures numerous encounters with the natural world: glimpses of vertigo-inducing ravines, up-closeand-personal parlays with drowsy, slow-moving cows. But perhaps the most notable occurs in the rustic driveway when you come face to furry snout with her border collie–shepherd mix, Bear—the puppy who appeared with Sommers on the cover of the 2005 debut issue of Domino and is now, at 10 years old, a canine elder statesman. For design lovers of a certain ilk and era, Sommers and Bear are the frozen-in-time poster couple for a decorating revolution. As the initial face of the much-loved, game-changing magazine, Sommers embodied a shelter-world version of Carrie Bradshaw—an aspirational yet relatable high-style champion, whose infectious energy and penchant for mixing modern with vintage and classic inspired a legion of readers to dream, I can do that too. Sommers, of course, is no fantasy character; in fact, with her charming non-sequiturs and unquenchable thirst for conversation, the Los Angeles designer makes a case for truth being more interesting than fiction. Sitting in her immaculate kitchen, nibbling on a raw cacao macaroon (which, she assures you, has an aphrodisiac kick), you’d be hard pressed to keep up with her rapid jump cuts among such topics as the Congolese war, the Arctic as travel destination, and the merits of rose face oil—all while Sommers is pruning wildflowers in a 1950s floral dress and dancing with her papier-mâché-masked eldest daughter. “My [professional] process involves 186 Lonny 187
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