Among the most satisfying compliments that an interior designer can receive is to be given carte blanche in creating the decor of a client's home, and such was the case with designer Ron Wilson in the house shown here.
"Having known these people for a number of years allowed me more freedom than I other- wise would have had," Wilson says. "They knew me and they knew my work; that made it easier for them to make such a decision. To many, the situation might sound like a golden opportunity and, of course, it was. But with this freedom of expression came the pressure of responsibility. After all, my clients are the ones who have to live here and like it."
The traditional, Colonial-style Beverly Hills house is typical of the homes that were built in the area in the '30s and '40s. "Though it was a nice house, it lacked distinctive details," Wilson says. "It needed the charm of moldings, fire- places and other special touches. It had many chopped-up rooms, so we knocked out walls to create larger spaces. But we were careful to maintain the existing traditional feeling throughout; we simply added an elegance that had been lacking."
Nothing was spared in decorative detailing; no room is furnished in a trendy fashion--the spirit is classic and timeless. In the living room, walls received a coat of soft-pink paint that has what Wilson calls "a textured, combed" effect, set off by elegant crown moldings and a limestone fireplace mantel. The screen placed behind the rolled-arm sofa is a Japanese antique; the wool area rug is sculpted with luxurious high-pile detail. Windows on the street side of the room are softened--but not obscured--by textured grillwork. Here, the overall feeling is one of softness, subtlety and sophistication.
A few steps from the living room is an inviting, intimate den with faux bois pine paneling, sculptured carpeting, and pillow-plumped, chintz-covered chaises that were placed perpendicular to the fireplace. Just beyond the den and near the kitchen is the loggia. This area had been two rooms--a breakfast nook and a maid's room. Walls were knocked out to create a large space that is furnished in an eclectic manner: wicker sofa and chairs, an antique pine dresser and a glass-topped dining table. This light-filled space, open to the outside via tall French doors, is often used for casual entertaining and family breakfasts.
One of the more unusual (and most enjoyed) rooms is not pictured. That is the media room, where the walls have been upholstered in a natural-colored Haitian cotton fabric and the ceilings have been covered in a textured-reed material. Sumptuous seating has been installed banquette-style surrounding a giant television screen. (The family enjoys watching sporting events and an occasional movie.) From that room you step out onto a patio and a tennis court beyond.
For formal entertaining, Wilson infused the dining room with a great deal of traditional atmosphere while utilizing a light and cheerful color palette. To add interest to an otherwise ordinary rectangular room, the designer built a seat into the bay window, flanking it with two built-in, mirrored shelving units that house the owners' collection of antique blue-and-white porcelain. Grillwork similar to that in the living room shields the windows. Artist Lindsay Fields painted a subtle antique-Chinese wallpaper-type design on peachy-pink walls. That, along with distinctive molding and a dhurrie area rug in the colors of the porcelain, completes the scheme.
As might be expected, the master bedroom in a house such as this is much more than merely a place for sleeping. A large space, it gained a lovely sitting area when Wilson incorporated what had been a balcony and added a fireplace, bookshelves and a large window seat that is now piled high with plush pillows. Austrian-type window shades soften the afternoon sun that pours through the tall, west-facing windows. Two creamy-white, textured area rugs establish the relationship between the sitting and sleeping spaces, along with the crisp, white-background floral fabric that covers all walls, windows, upholstered furniture and bedcovers.