Is there too much glamor? Not in Beverly Hills
It was before the pandemic when clients of Los Angeles-based interior designer Oliver M. Furth approached him to modernize their new home in the coveted Beverly Hills apartments. The couple had recently moved from New York City in hopes of capturing the same urban charm but in a less chaotic environment.
âThe husband and wife are both Californians,â says Furth. “And after living in Manhattan for two decades, they felt it was time to come home.”
The couple rented for a while before stumbling across the two-story Georgian-style property set on nearly half an acre in the heart of zip code 90210. âBeverly Hills is a garden city, but the apartments really are. urban: you’re only four blocks from all the stores, so everything is really within walking distance, âhe adds. “They see themselves as New Yorkers, so it was important for them to incorporate that urban feel into the design.”
The house was built in 1929; its original style was still somewhat obvious, but it had been overhauled several times over the years, and many period details had been entirely covered up or removed. Yet he had good bones and a lot of heart. âOliver was very keen to keep what we loved – its charm, which reminded us of our apartment in New York – and make it livable and current,â the owners explain.
âWe were looking for some kind of Paul Williams aesthetic,â says Furth, referring to the famous Los Angeles architect who once designed homes for Frank Sinatra, Barbara Stanwyck and Lucille Ball. “So I used [that era] as a point of reference to restore a certain architectural gravity to the house.
But even the best-laid out plans can go a little wrong: In Furth’s 10 months renovating and outfitting the house, the world has changed. âInitially there was a very structured basis for the design, but when we started the installation we decided to be a bit more fun based on the current state of affairs,â he says. The result is a colorful, functional, family retreat from the uncertainty that grips the world. âThere is enough space so that we can all find our own space and not be on top of each other,â add the owners. âBut the items meant to bring us together, like the downstairs den with the giant pink sofa, are never far away. “
Furth started off with a nod to old Hollywood by laying the Carrara and Nero Marquina marble checkerboard floor, which spans much of the main level. The staircase, one of the original elements of the house, took on more importance when Furth chose to blacken the steps, adding to the graphic quality of the space. âWe discovered the balustrade and handrail, which were both original, and then we custom built all the wall panels to showcase the staircase,â he says.
Playing with the contrasts of colors and textures, Furth has created the ultimate lounge space worthy of a Fifth Avenue penthouse. “I gave the walls this beautiful fabric of Phillip Jeffries’ Manila Hemp Grass – with its’ Triscuit ‘texture – and highlighted it by lacquering the ceiling with Pratt & Lambert High Gloss Lacquer in Gun. Powder. ” He then juxtaposed the custom-upholstered Romo Linara “lipstick pink” linen sofa with the antique Mashad rug to accentuate the New York ambiance sought by the owners.
The owner’s collection of objects and works of art, including a Jean-Michel Basquiat Cabeza silkscreen: creates the final personal layer. Ryan Mennealy’s ceramic Love light fixture was a gift from husband to wife – cutouts are made up of dots and dashes that spell out the word love in Morse code, âsays Furth.
What was originally five bedrooms and a service staircase is now a place for the family to relax and be entertained. âThe existing country-style kitchen was redone in the 1980s, with hand-painted tiles depicting farm animals,â Furth adds with a laugh. “That was the joke of the project because it is definitely not a country house.”
The designer extended the marble checkerboard floor into the space and clad the walls in white subway tiles. âThanks to Oliver, our kitchen is the center of our home and also the sexiest and chicest room,â say the owners. “Not a person comes into our house who doesn’t comment – it’s not often that you see a black lacquer kitchen, especially in LA”
âIt’s a laid back place to get together with the family,â says Furth of this bright breakfast room. “There is a big bench to relax on, a bulletproof concrete table, a television, so between the kids, the dogs, the food and the red wine, anything can happen here.”
Furth had the vintage table updated with a custom tray by Concrete Cat and upholstered the custom bench with faux leather and had it put on casters. âI’m still thinking about what might happen in a decade, so if you take the bench seat away, the room could serve a whole new purpose,â notes the designer.
âIt’s pretty glamorous here, but it’s realistic glamor,â says Furth of the home’s dining room. âThere’s an antique table and rug, sconces we found in Paris, and an Astrolabe chandelier, but the chairs are from Eames – they’re plastic and can tip over. I didn’t want something to be too valuable or difficult. We wanted people to feel comfortable, not only physically, but emotionally. For the color of the walls, he chose Brinjal from Farrow & Ball and had a matching custom gloss lacquer made for the ceiling.
âThis space was going in one direction – we had nice silver leaf wallpapers and fancy curtains planned – but the pandemic was in full swing and we shifted gears,â recalls the designer. For this family, the change of management involved setting up their ping-pong table in the center of the room, but the utility room is also perfect for large dinners.
Unlike some of the more colorful pieces, Furth chose a combination of Farrow & Ball’s All White matte and gloss for the walls and ceiling. âThis room is flooded with light from three different directions all day long, so we embraced it,â he says.
Formal powder room
Furth outfitted this space, which serves as the main powder room for guests, with gold and gold brass fixtures and fittings in homage to 1930s glamor. âThe client’s favorite flowers are peonies, so we have blows up that pattern, âhe says of the spectacular wallcovering. The personalized circular wire mirror, with ceramic beads handmade by Marie Christophe, was ordered by the husband as a gift for his wife.
âIt was another little maze of rooms that we opened up to put a tub right in the center,â the designer said of his client’s dream bathroom. âThere is a tight language in this house that is repeated throughout, with all the marble, the high gloss lacquered cabinets and walls, the very clean ivory linen blinds and the gilded brass and gold light fixtures.â
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