There’s California dreaming, and then there’s this next-level madness: A couple moves to Los Angeles to buy a circa 1928, seven-bedroom Spanish Revival house surrounded by agave plants, which was previously owned by Orson Welles and Diane Keaton. Does it get more Cali than that? They then hired Los Angeles design royalty—Madeline Stuart—to make the place their own.
“It’s just a period and an aesthetic that I have a real passion and enthusiasm for,” says Stuart, who has been working with the clients on this property “on and off” for 15 years. “It’s a marvelous thing to get to go back and see how I’ve evolved, see how the house has evolved, and see how they’ve evolved in terms of their taste and style and aesthetic.” A few added-on accents—Keaton’s collection of vintage tiles, installed throughout the home and even in the pool, for example—were preserved.
But over the years, Stuart has layered in her own flourishes and world-class antiques. “For me, it’s about creating an environment that’s cohesive,” she explains. “Everybody is part of a concerto, and everyone has a note.” In the living room, a wall covered with reproduction Batchelder tile came down (“It felt a little bit like a waiting room in a train station”), and up went wooden beams and an antique stone fireplace. “The room is massive, and they gave it form and texture and weight,” Stuart notes. In the master bedroom, a custom bed appears to be antique Italianate—because “there are certainly no antique beds in a king size.” The client’s Scottish coat of arms was painted on the headboard by artist Jean Horihata, who also created a night-sky mural on the dining room ceiling.
In-between are palette cleansers. Creamy-white walls in Benjamin Moore’s White Dove, “And all the woodwork in the house is painted a brown-black. I call it obsidian,” says Stuart. “It makes all the other features pop.”
“A room of this size needs objects of weight, because otherwise things just tend to kind of float away,” says Stuart. She considers her affinity for antique shopping not just a talent but an obsession. Coffee tables: antique Spanish, Lucca Antiques. Gilt benches: 20th-century, Dragonette. Settee: early 1900s, Revival Antiques, upholstered in Rogers & Goffigon brown velvet. Sofas and blue chairs: custom, Madeline Stuart Associates, the latter in linen velvet by Lee Jofa.
Stuart’s direction for the painted ceiling by artist Jean Horihata was clear: “It’s not whimsical and it’s not cute. The colors are very muted.” But it brought “so much more depth to the room.” Art: Studio Blackboard #4, Norman Lundin. Chandelier: antique Italian. Chairs: antique Spanish, Lief.
Kitchen + Breakfast Room
Black tile from California-based Mission Tile West provides contrast in the stainless-steel kitchen. Range: Viking.
For the adjoining breakfast bar, the home's former owner Diane Keaton collected vintage tiles and had them installed in a mix-and-match pattern. The current homeowner decided to keep them in place.
Throughout the home, tall doors open up to a private back courtyard. Above the four-seat dining table, a skylight draws in even more sun.
More Batchelder tile from Keaton's collection surrounds the hearth, where a cozy sitting area was put together.
Under a dramatic cove ceiling, wood shelves provide storage and a 17th-century Spanish table stands in as a desk. Lighting: custom by Madeline Stuart Associates. Lamp: Revival Antiques.
Where one of the owners, a painter, tends to his work.
As is traditional in Spanish Revival architecture, rooms open to the house’s back courtyard, where there’s an extensively landscaped yard and pool. (Yes, that's more of Diane Keaton's tile on the pool edge!) Chairs: Janus et Cie.
Just off the kitchen, a partially covered lounge area includes Monterey Colonial seating from the 1920s (the owners’ main inspiration for the home), sourced from Revival Antiques. Art: vintage tile mural, installed by Diane Keaton.
An existing arch “felt a little sad the way it had been,” says Stuart, so Horihata was called in to stencil a silver-and-gold motif inside—and paint the wife’s coat of arms on the custom bed. Bedding: International Down & Linen. Pillows: in Fortuny fabric. Sofa: custom, in Pierre Frey mohair. Rug: Bessarabian, Aga John Rugs. Iron sconces: Paul Ferrante.
“The couple has a passion for creating something authentic. These are not people who
do whatever is trending that year.”
The 8,200-square-foot house has seven bedrooms, so there's no shortage of space for visitors to crash.
Stuart developed a line with Mission Tile West that replicates tile styles from the 1920s and ’30s. Antique mirror was selected for the back of a vanity, to make the room appear even larger. Mirror: JF Chen. Tile: Revival series, Mission Tile West. Vanity: custom by Madeline Stuart Associates; granite, Stoneland. Brass: Palmer Industries. Sconces: Remains Lighting. Art: Dragonette.
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