A Traditional Beverly Hills Abode Brimming with Timeless Antiques


Traditional Cream Front Elevation with Green-Framed Windows

“The house was done with a certain amount of detail and charm,” says Appleton, who worked with senior associate Andrew Scott on the project. “Everyone wanted to keep the original architectural flavor intact.”

Traditional Cream Entry with Arched-Doorway and Olive Tree

Architect Marc Appleton collaborated with landscape designer Lisa Zeder to reimagine the gardens surrounding a Beverly Hills home Appleton renovated for East Coast-based clients. At the entry, an olive tree and planted borders lend color, structure and movement to the approach.

Traditional White Entry Hall with Greek-Key Pattern Stair Runner

In the entry hall, designer Mona Hajj placed a runner with a Greek-key pattern on the stair. Purchased from Crescent Carpet Importers in New York, it introduces the modern element of an overscaled graphic to a selection of antique rugs, an English 19th-century walnut chair and an early 20th-century Venetian mirror, all Hajj’s discoveries from her travels.

Traditional Cream Living Room with Asian-Inspired Vintage Mirrors

Facing across the living room’s Rose Tarlow Melrose House coffee table are a 19th-century settee from Hajj’s own holdings and an A. Rudin sofa. Exotic touches come in the form of Asian-inspired vintage mirrors—flanking the antique mantel from Exquisite Surfaces—and a collection of ceramics from around the globe. Overhead is a Dessin Fournir lantern; the drapery fabric is Rogers & Goffigon.

Traditional Cream Living Room Vignette with Gilt Chair

Hajj designed the Art Deco-style gilt chair that sits atop a 19th-century Sultanabad rug in the living room; the console behind is a 19th-century Irish George III-style piece. Overlooking the grouping is a collection of custom-framed French hand-pressed flowers and leaves on a wall painted in Seashell from Benjamin Moore.

Traditional White Dining Room with Patterned Chairs

Gregorius Pineo chairs from Kneedler- Fauchère in a Le Gracieux damask and windows dressed with a linen floral by Kathryn M. Ireland bring color and pattern into the dining room. The high polish of Rose Tarlow Melrose House’s Pickwick dining table, a 1940s Jansen chandelier and a 19th-century Venetian mirror reflect the natural light.

Traditional Cream Kitchen with Vintage Cabinet Island

Poul Henningsen pendants hover over a 19th-century oak side cabinet, which received new life as the kitchen island; topped with quartzite from Stoneville, it now features Waterworks fixtures. Dessin Fournir barstools look to the Pratt & Larson tile backsplash and Viking range.

Traditional White Breakfast Nook with Bay Window

Appleton’s plans for the kitchen included a breakfast area, which contractor Doc Williamson created. Horizons Window Fashions shades keep the spot from getting too sunny. The custom banquette, fabricated by Charles Gemeiner Cabinets, brims with a selection of pillows in bold patterns and colors.

Traditional White Family Room with Floral Sofa

Just off the kitchen in the family room, the A. Rudin sofa’s floral upholstery complements a pair of swiveling Dessin Fournir club chairs and a blue Gregorius Pineo sofa, both from Kneedler- Fauchère. Chinese ceramic jar lamps from Rose Tarlow Melrose House and an early 20th-century French chandelier from Hajj’s inventory provide lighting.

Traditional White Living Room Vignette with French Gilt-Wood Fauteuils

Elger Esser’s large-scale C-print, Macon II, France, from Sonnabend Gallery in New York brings a contemporary edge to two late-19th-century neoclassical-style French gilt-wood fauteuils and a 20th-century George III-style piecrust table in the living room—all grounded by antique carpets. The wood flooring throughout is from Exquisite Surfaces.

Traditional White Landing with 1880 Bergères

A pair of circa-1880 bergères on either side of a George III oak side table join a Porta Romana lamp to create an inviting spot to linger in the enclosed porch at the top of the stairs. Rogers & Goffigon sheers and birch-grass shades from Horizons Window Fashions, both fabricated by Roth Draperies, mute the bright natural light.

Traditional White Bedroom with Custom Green Headboard

A triptych of dignitaries by Robert Lefèvre decorates the wall above the master bedroom’s custom headboard from Georgia-based Old Biscayne Designs. At its foot is a circa-1840 Chinese lacquered table. A Dessin Fournir chair sits by a window draped in a floral Robert Kime linen.

Traditional White Bathroom with Sideboard Vanity

Topped with marble from Stoneville, a midcentury sideboard has been transformed into the vanity in the wife’s bathroom. Inset are a sink and faucet from Waterworks, as are the tub and tub fixtures; nearby is a Nancy Corzine chair. The windows are by Millworks Etc. Benjamin Moore’s Ivory White glazes the walls.

Traditional White Bedroom Vignette with Provincial Commode

More of Hajj’s unique finds make up a charming vignette in the master bedroom—set against walls in Benjamin Moore’s Niveous. Above the mid-18th-century provincial commode hang a 1940 French gilt-wood mirror and an early-1900s neoclassical-style sconce. An artwork brings modern abstraction and an infusion of brighter colors to the antiques.

Traditional Cream Covered Terrace with Spanish Doors

The seating arrangement on a covered terrace mixes bamboo chairs from Michael Taylor Designs with a circa-1930 wrought-iron garden bench and custom coffee table. Handmade lanterns from Holroyd Studios hang above. Spanish doors bracketing an 18th-century limestone mantel add authentic Iberian touches.

Traditional White Rear Elevation with Ashlar Patterned Flooring

Erik McMorrow and Brian McMorrow of Liliput’ oversaw the installation of the landscaping. Stone pavers radiate from a fountain from Inner Gardens, and Amalfi Living chaise lounges recline upon limestone flooring set in an irregular ashlar pattern. The lanterns are from Ironcad.

The temptation of Spanish Colonial Revival homes is often to lay on the period furnishings to make them feel “authentic.” But going the whole Iberian nine yards—with the style’s love of all things dark, formal and heavily carved—can sometimes feel ill-suited to the casual-contemporary living that attracts people to California in the first place. That was especially true for designer Mona Hajj’s clients, an empty-nester couple from the East Coast. “Having worked with them several times in the past, I found that we all share the fact that we don’t like to take anything literally,” says the bicoastal Hajj. “We try to mix it up while always respecting the architecture of the house.” In this case, the home in question was a 1920s abode in Beverly Hills the clients had tasked architect Marc Appleton with refreshing and restoring.

“The house was done with a certain amount of detail and charm,” says Appleton, who worked with senior associate Andrew Scott on the project. “Everyone wanted to keep the original architectural flavor intact.” But what Appleton initially walked into was hardly original: a pink- walled stairwell with black risers, fussy wallpapers, a concrete patio out back, decidedly un-Spanish sliders leading to the pool, and even several doorways whose Spanish arches had been made level. “They had tried to make it modern,” says the wife of the home’s previous owners. “But we’re not retro ’70s people. We always want it to look classic but feel timeless and fresh, elegant yet simple.”

Appleton’s task involved bringing a cosmetic hand to renovations, repainting everything white, lightening floors and the original ceiling beams, and stripping down the stair railing (“We took the folly out of it,” explains builder Doc Williamson of the rail, which had been overcomplicated with floral ornamentation). And because, Appleton says, “We all wanted to bring more light into the house,” the project took a much more ambitious turn. Beyond liberating the imprisoned kitchen by opening it to the family room, the plans called for cutting a large window into one wall and adding a fenestrated breakfast bay. He also replaced the family room sliders with generous, more graceful arched French doors that now open onto a new loggia.

Outside, Appleton collaborated with landscape designer Lisa Zeder. For his part, he swapped in concrete for new pool coping, laid fossil creek stone in an ashlar pattern under the loggia and around the pool, and—between the house and a garage-guest cottage (which also got a complete makeover)—placed a fountain surrounded with limestone pavers neatly defined by grass borders. Zeder says, “I designed the horticultural components of the garden, choosing plant materials that were true to and complementary to the architecture while bringing in the softness the client was seeking.” She also incorporated varied shades of green with subtle infusions of color for a rich and interesting palette.

Hajj took on the interiors, working, as always, instinctually. “When I put color schemes together, it’s not about matching,” she explains. “In the family room, for example, one sofa has a William Morris fabric and the other a textured dark blue material. The Tabriz carpet has nothing to do with either, but it feels good.” In the same room are a French gilt-metal chandelier, a Buddha atop a dairy table and blue-and-white pottery in niches around a built-in television cabinet. Interspersed are antique textiles, some Turkish, others English and American. “When I travel I always collect antique textiles,” she notes, adding, “I love mixing cultures. It’s calming for me.”

Likewise, the living room pulls together unlikely characters that nevertheless get along famously: A 19th-century William and Mary-style sofa’s serpentine back and turned spindle legs and stretchers read vaguely Spanish, while the collection of vintage ceramics hints at the historic cultural exchanges that have happened in Spain. Yet we also find, surprisingly, custom Hajj-designed Art Deco-inspired chairs, a table rich with chinoiserie details, Khotan and Sultanabad rugs, and an English side table and antique Irish consoles. “There’s a common thread, with the architecture referring to Spanish Colonial and some of the leg styles and dark woods acting as references,” says Hajj. “But they’re not literal.” A similar mix appears in the rest of the house, with a combination of Italian, English, American and Spanish furnishings accented by textiles and accessories from several stops on the Silk Road—Persia, Turkey and the like. Because this was the couple’s second home, Hajj also paid particular attention to her clients’ desire to capture an easy California lifestyle, with seating placing a premium on comfort. “It doesn’t matter if it’s beautiful,” says Hajj of the furnishings. “If you can’t sit on a chair and enjoy it, it won’t be in their house.”

In the end, against Appleton’s reinvigorated canvas, which took a tired 20th-century home and turned it into an elegant and classic residence suited to the 21st century, the results are layered and thoughtful, with Hajj achieving a careful balance in the furnishings that skews neither literal nor hyper-modern. For the designer, the process and the result are equally compelling. “I love creating,” she says, “and I love seeing it come together in the end.”

—Jorge S. Arango