Lives of Style: Sandra Farris 

Here’s a winning formula: Take one stunning, petite, blonde woman, add substantial grace and charm, blend with warmth and sophistication, and you have Sandra Farris.

Gentility, kindness, softness, she is also "very real" as her friend, Delia Ehrlich puts it, and effervescent, with an easy, lilting laugh and a warm, inclusive personality.

An only child, daughter of Harold and Lee, Sandra was born in La Jolla, moved north to the Bay Area to attend the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, and never looked south again.

After a few years teaching, Sandra became involved in volunteering, a lifelong passion.

She was president of the San Jose Symphony Auxiliary and on the San Jose Symphony board; president, and chairwoman of the major fundraising event for the Balle Monte League; was involved in the Junior League of San Jose; and on the board of directors of Ville Montalvo, in Saratoga, "a fabulous house for artists, composers, with cottages for artists-in-residence. A beautiful setting."

At the time Sandra’s daughter Shannon was born, Sandra founded California Interiors, a landmark, 7,000-square-foot, Los Gatos retail establishment housing antiques, home accessories, china, fine stationery — "I even sold cranes," she said — that she ran for 25 years. She embarked on extensive buying trips, enlisting her parents’ participation in the venture.

Sandra inaugurated a newspaper, Valley Scene, "basically to honor volunteers;" she ran it for four years and then sold it in 2000, to relocate to San Francisco to be proximate to her daughter.

Embracing volunteering in The City, Sandra soon was involved in the San Francisco Symphony League, Hospice, San Francisco Garden Club (she’s co-chairing a major April 11 event) and she co-chaired Passport in 2003. "I tried to do something." Sandra, a newly single woman, was also enjoying the social life in San Francisco. "It was so much fun to be independent and free. I never look back."

She relishes personal relationships she's formed. "My friends. It’s like a ‘sisterhood,’ they’re so supportive. We’ve traveled to New York and had so much fun at plays and restaurants."

Her 1926 English Tudor Cottage-style residence in San Francisco, which she has owned since 2002, is remodeled to reflect the history of the home. Pale buttercup walls lend energy to the expansive rooms. High 14-foot ceilings in the living room, anent hues of pale buttercup yellow walls and antique beige and taupe furnishings, interplay with the original walnut trim and French doors to house extensive collections of family photographs and memorabilia. Pale yellow wends its way amid light sea foam tones in the dining room and admixes with brick red in the refurbished kitchen, designed to re-create the 1920s era with appliances, distressed pine flooring, woodwork and tile that faithfully replicate the period.

Sandra’s joy, Baby, a terrier mix whom she rescued, scuttles around the home. Light filters in from a multiplicity of mullioned windows and French doors. The feel of the home is welcoming and serene. Sandra enjoys the ease and flow of her abode. And smiles at the light that surrounds her. And reflects it right back.

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