By Rachel Wilford
To Liz Jonas, San Clemente resident, entrepreneur and mother of four, traveling is not a luxury—it is a necessity. Jonas has traveled to 44 countries so far and she has no plans to stop seeing the world, ever.
“I tell my kids that they have to visit one new place every year,” Jonas said. “It doesn’t even have to be out of the country, it can be in the United States. As long as they are going and exploring.”
But Liz doesn’t just travel for personal fulfillment. She has since expanded her initial goals to utilize traveling for business initiatives as well as interior design. She often brings back jewelry, shells, shoes, pillows, artwork, saddlebags and more. She has stories to tell, and the décor from her travels adorns her home to reflect those stories.
“When we travel, we never do any re- search beforehand,” said Jonas. “We always stay in small, authentic, local hotels. I want to feel like I’m living there, not like I’m a tourist. The more exotic and off the grid, the better.”
Liz’s adventuring started when she moved to Paris after graduating from college and she met her husband Jeff while living there. After they married, the couple has been traveling the world together and fueling each of their businesses from their travels too.
Jeff’s business GBI Tile & Stone has taken him all around the world in search of stone, tile and marble to supply to customers.
Liz would accompany him on his trips and started collecting stones at local markets wherever she went, in addition to the other artifacts she would collect for decorating her home. She eventually started making jewelry at her son’s baseball games as a hobby, but when people started requesting jewelry from her, she decided to create her business Jonas & Muse.
Liz collects stones, crosses, boar tusks, beads and more from places like Nepal, China and Ethiopia and then creates hand- made, authentic jewelry from them. Her jewelry is sold in local stores, such as Sunny Days and Tuvalu.
For additional design concepts similar to Liz’s treasures from Nepal or Thailand, visit Bamboo and Beyond in San Clemente at 713 N El Camino Real or on Facebook at www.facebook. com/bambooandbeyond.
A Taste of the Tropics in San Juan Capistrano
For years, Cary Serklew has worked tirelessly to cultivate his San Juan Capistrano backyard into a tropical paradise. Where some might find interest in interior design, Serklew finds his passion to be outdoor landscaping with plants.
As a member of the International Palm Society, Serklew has many contacts who are able to assist him in importing palms from all over the world, including New Caledonia, Australia, Mexico, China, Lord Howe Island and New Zealand.
Serklew’s lush botanical garden is also comprised of many complimentary plants such as bromeliads, tillandsias, philodendrons, cycads and ferns. Serklew and his wife Karrie have not yet been to any of the places where their plants originate, but they would like to someday.
“When we went to Hawaii in 2000, all Cary did was go shopping for plants,” Karrie said. “He ordered plants while we were there and had them shipped home and he also brought back seeds.”
As an avid surfer, Cary has always been enthralled with the tropics. Before he and Karrie got married, he would go to Hawaii every year to surf.
“I wanted to move to Hawaii but Karrie didn’t want to go,” Cary said. “So I just started moving all of these plants and built my little Hawaii right here instead.”
Cary’s favorite plant in his yard is the bismarckia nobilis, a palm that originates from the island of Madagascar. In its natural habitat, the palm can grow to almost 85 feet tall and in cultivation it can reach 40 feet.
In addition to the plant life, the Serklews have also built a vacation-style pool in their backyard. The pool features a sunken bar, hot tub, slide, baby beach and waterfalls that complete the tropical Hawaiian landscape theme.
For those interested in getting started with palms and cycads like Cary, visit Seaside Growers Nursery in San Juan Capistrano at 33773 Camino Capistrano or at www.seasidegrowers. com.
Asian Influence in Dana Point
Walking through the front gate of Charis Burrett’s Dana Point home feels like an immediate transportation to Asia. Hanging next to the front entrance is a massive, serene Buddha face, welcoming visitors into the Chinoiserie-style sanctuary.
Buddha’s are a common theme throughout Burrett’s home. They are scattered throughout the front dining area and lead all the way outside to the pool, which is guarded by a towering, cross-legged sculpture.
Burrett, who is a model for Playboy magazine, moved to California at age 17 and began collecting antiques for her apartment. She started collaborating various styles in her living space which helped her learn how to manage different elements of design. Now, Burrett has her own company called The Mershon through which she consults others in the areas of interior design, fashion, restaurant design and vacation planning.
Burrett has explored many countries in Asia and Europe as well as New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Mexico and the Bahamas where she lived for a period of time. She especially loves traveling to places that are artistic and unique and she models her home after those traits.
“I want my home to be my retreat,” Burrett said. “I want to feel like I’m on vaca- tion all the time, so I designed my home to be like the permanent vacation that I would like to be on.”
The vacation destination that Burrett modeled her home after is Thailand, which is her favorite place that she has been to and the place that she hopes to move to. She also incorporates many family heirlooms in her home as well as French styles and pieces, and this fusion of Asian and French styles creates the popular European design of Chinoiserie throughout Burrett’s home.
Burrett said that Dana Point interior design store Bella Bazaar has helped her find many of the pieces that can be found in her home. Even though her taste is very specific, Bella Bazaar has always been able to help her find exactly what she needs for her eclectic home.
“I think the reason why people like coming to my home is because this house has an energy about it,” Burrett said. “It’s indescribable, you just have to see it and experience it.”
For ideas similar to Charis’ Chinoiserie- style, home, visit Bella Bazaar in Dana Point at 34467 Street of the Golden Lantern or at www. bellabazaar.com.
Read more about design in this special section titled, “Inside/Outside” here: