Western decor: Disney mayor transforms home to reflect heritage
BY BRAVETTA HASSELL World Scene Writer
Saturday, August 25, 2012
8/25/12 at 5:36 AM
In Judy Barger's transformation of her ranch house into a home inspired by the West, honoring her American Indian heritage was important.
Photographs of family members hang in a gallery-style arrangement amid art, tapestries and inherited objects. The photos alone can make for hours of talking pieces for Barger to share with her grandchildren.
"I tell 'em everything I can think of," said Barger, mayor of Disney, Okla. "I try to keep the history going in the family, if I can."
On a recent afternoon, however, Barger is talking about the present: about retirement, the change in pace and she and her husband, Chip, really getting to work on and enjoy their house that overlooks Grand Lake - and the recent completion of its mixed Western and Southwestern redecoration.
Southwestern and Navajo rugs can be found on floors and hung as tapestries. American Indian artwork features horses, buffalo and cattle, prairie land and people whose poses evince stoicism and strength.
The kitchen has been remodeled, featuring elements that speak to the frontier and utilitarian living: a cast-iron skillet mounted to the wall, colorful dishes used as decorative accessories and, above the Bargers' refrigerator, a display that includes a military calvary saddle, an old-fashioned water jug, a fiddle and riding stirrups in front of a gleaming copper-toned wall inlay.
On the living room floor, Barger's tribal seals, for the Cherokee and Osage nations, are set into the tile that mimics wood paneling but which Barger said is easier to maintain - especially with the humidity that comes with living on the lake.
Just as striking as the seals is the Bargers' stove hood, which is hand-tooled in saddle-beige leather and includes the monogram "cBj." The primary kitchen lighting, also impressive, uses lambskin with the cutout images of a cattle drive - it casts a vivid shadow high on the walls when the lamp is switched on.
Greater than the Western-style items Barger already had prior to the remodeling, Barger said it was the furniture she'd encountered while shopping that really drove her decision to commit to the transformation.
"I have never found any furniture that is more sturdy and of quality," Barger said. "This'll outlast me."
The sofa set, in a dark chestnut leather, is sumptuous and has cowhide trim.
Barger worked closely with Yocham's Custom Leather in Bartlesville to get the look she wanted, but she also shopped different catalogues and magazines specializing in the style she was interested in wrapping her home around.
And with the stove hood among the last projects to be completed in the home, Barger would say her vision has nearly been accomplished.
"Who knows - I might start riding horses again," she said with a smile. This home - once a place with a resort feel for the Bargers' weekend getaways when she and Chip worked on the Kansas Division of the Union Pacific - is now their everyday getaway.
The style is a popular choice among homeowners who are redecorating, explains Jason Dupus, president of Black Forest Decor, an online home decor catalogue business based in Jenks. Lone Star Western Decor, a division of Black Forest, focuses on Western and Southwestern decorations and home accessories such as bedding, rugs, lamps, wall hangings and other decorative items.
Neutral colors predominate, though turquoise and red are also popular, Dupus said. He also noted that crosses are pretty popular among customers, though the interest has tapered off in recent years.
Barbed wire, cowhide, boot-style designs and tooled leather come to mind when Dupus thinks of the West. Antlers may also come to mind.
The latter wasn't part of Barger's vision for her decor. Instead, above the door that leads to an expansive deck, she wanted to include a Cherokee dog soldier, his white-painted face framed in feathers, eyes piercing and bright, and red lines falling like tear stains from them. Some people like him, Barger explains. He makes some others unsettled, but he falls right in place with the mayor's vision - inspired by the prairie, imbued with the heritage in which she has so much pride.
"I'm happy with everything," Barger said. "I think I got it to where I want it now."
Western decor has many influences
Durability and functionality have long been defining characteristics of Western decor since the components of the style began more than a century ago.
It's about simplicity and using what you know. For ranchers of the past, this meant incorporating animal hide and iron - elements of their everyday work - into their home decoration.
Early Spanish and American Indian influences can be seen in the religious designs and pops of color also found in Western and Southwestern decor.
Original Print Headline: Best of the West
Bravetta Hassell 918-581-8316
Chip and Judy Barger in the living room of their western decor home on Grand Lake in Disney, OK. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World
Inlaid tile on the wooden floor in the living room of the Barger home on Grand Lake in Disney features aWestern scene. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World
Chip and Judy Barger pose in their remodeled home. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World
Leather furniture, family photos and American Indian art are featured in the Western-decor livingroom of the Barger’s Grand Lake home. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World
American Indian art adorns the walls of the Bargerhome. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World
A Western-style clock uses a neutral palette withmetallics. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World