As a young girl growing up in the maritime city of Kiel, Germany, Regine Bechtler saved up her allowance to purchase a bright white rain slicker adorned with loud, brightly colored flowers.
“All the other children in school had traditional yellow rain slickers with blue lining,” said Bechtler, a wide grin slipping across her face, “My mother wanted to be certain that I was sure in my decision knowing I’d be quite different from the others, but she didn’t discourage me. I’ve always had confidence and followed my own sense of style.”
Nowhere is her unique flair for design and panache more evident than in the SouthPark home she shares with her husband, art collector and artist, Andreas Bechtler. Their contemporary California-style, open floor plan home underwent a complete interior makeover at her hand in 2007.
“I found a home with white marble floors, white walls, white ceilings and woodwork; it was very cold and not comfortable for me,” said Bechtler. “I wanted something that reflects us, our personalities, and the way we like to live and entertain. My mind immediately went to work upon seeing the layout and I envisioned bold color combinations and looked for ways to incorporate whimsy and playfulness for warmth and a relaxed feel.”
The Salon – The Heart of the Home
Bechtler favors an uncluttered look and rooms showcasing fewer, large scale artwork and pieces that are expressive and help set the tone and mood.
Here in her SouthPark residence, the salon is the heart of the home. A European style parlor with an open hearth at the far end and large windows and French doors opening out into the expansive garden, the room has lyrical elements that encourage casualness. Helping set the light mood is and end table whose base is a large gold human foot and a life-sized sheep just close enough to the room’s entrance to silently greet visitors.
When Bechtler first saw the room, her eye was drawn skyward where the magnificent recessed ceiling with twelve large rectangles spoke to her. “I immediately thought, ‘These are frames perfect for a fresco,’ said Bechtler, “I knew just what I wanted there, a scene from the Bosch triptych, ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights.’”
Bechtler had prints made from a section of the renowned work, the original hangs in Madrid’s Museo del Prado, and had them custom fit to the existing panels.
The resulting presence of the dramatic 15th century work crowning her contemporarily styled room is emblematic of Bechtler’s reluctance to follow convention. When pressed she refers to the look as 40’s elegant Bohemian.
“I’d like to see people take more risk and be braver when it comes to interior design,” said Bechtler. “I once did a room where all the walls were papaya; people loved it but couldn’t see it for themselves. For me, I don’t shy away from bold.”
Fashion design – Peace Jackets
Bechtler’s design sensibility is by no means limited to interiors. She is an accomplished mixed media artist who sculpts, paints and works extensively in fashion design.
She taught herself how to sew and made her own maternity clothes when she became frustrated by the lack of fashionable wear for soon-to-be moms.
One of her more recent and wildly successful design projects is her foray into hand embellished Peace Jackets. While kicking around a second-hand store in Hamburg, Bechtler found two outsized vintage Navy jackets that she purchased, retailored them and added what has become a signature element, an open exposed ‘corset’ for femininity in the back of the jacket. She knew she was on to something when people stopped her on the streets of New York and Paris, complimenting her on the look. Now she’s producing them for friends and sale online.
“I scout for fabric, emblems and materials online and create about 4 custom jackets per month,” said Bechlter who makes her creations available online at peacejackets.com.
Bechtler finds she has to limit her production because she simply is too busy with other artistic pursuits. She displays incredible energy and an indefatigable nature.
She recently participated in a ceramics workshop, put the finishing touches on two new sculptures and was readying her home to host a group of artists in a free form, European salon-style discussion.
“I just can’t turn off the switch,” said Bechtler referring to her creative nature. “I always have a vision of what I might want to make next.”