Presented with a photo of a black Tom Ford cardigan as inspiration, designer Ryan Gordon Jackson took to work on the refresh of a young family’s English-style cottage, drawing influences from the sweater’s traditional silhouette, chrome accents, jaunty cuffs and tailored fit.
“Tom Ford has a very classic sensibility, but always with a little edge,” Jackson explains. “So we knew we wanted that same sophistication for their home, but always with something fun and unexpected.” The designer streamlined the residence’s pastoral features for a more modern take on California living, bestowing each space with bolts of color, texture and contemporary art. Here, we explore how the rooms in the Bel Air, California, abode came together.
The front facade of the English-style cottage hints at the stylish spaces within, which are defined by show-stopping contemporary art, bold color and a graphic palette dominated by black and white.
The designer wanted the entrance to be “the first notion that something truly different was going on inside.” So, working with general contractor Jason Rodriquez of JRC Group, he stripped away the heavy paneling and installed a dramatic LaCantina pivot door in glass and black metal.
The area became a gallery space for the homeowners’ artworks, including the Rashid Johnson painting above the vintage Milo Baughman bench, covered in Jerry Pair hair-on-hide, and a rug from Anthony Monaco Carpet & Textile Design. “With such artwork, everything else had to feel special,” Jackson says.
Deft architectural tailoring continued in the living room, where the traditional layout “was blasted open to make the space as large as we could,” notes the designer. “Then we put in a sliding glass system to create that subdued California aesthetic.”
A custom sectional upholstered in silvery Castel fabric from Donghia fills the room’s new, generous dimensions. The luxe textile adds refinement, “but there’s still something very relaxed about it, with very deep-set seating so the whole family can lounge comfortably,” Jackson says.
The designer employed a traditional black-and-white palette with a geometric mix of metals for some unexpected edge, as seen with the sleek custom lacquered coffee table, a faceted occasional table from Donghia, and a Beyond Borders striped platinum rug from Holly Hunt. The organic spiral of the Richard Serra art piece also provides a welcome contrast to the angular pieces.
When reimagining the office, Jackson leaned into the Tom Ford inspiration with a tailored take on a classic study. “I was going for more hard edge — the dichotomy of contemporary metal against traditional elements like the double-hung cottage windows,” he says. Statement pieces like the custom ottoman in Studioart leather and a Baring stainless steel desk from Bespoke Global help ground the space, softened by a silk-and-wool striped rug from Anthony Monaco Carpet & Textile Design. The monochrome palette also made the ideal backdrop for an Andy Warhol.
“We didn’t want to feature too many pieces of art. But we still needed something that felt over-the-top yet kid-friendly,” Jackson says of decorating the family room. The solution? A graphic hand-painted wallcovering by Porter Teleo from David Sutherland. “We loved how it almost feels like street art, which is in keeping with the family’s contemporary art program,” he says.
In an effort to infuse a bit of California spirit into the space, Jackson filled the room with modernist pieces like Saarinen armchairs, transformed with Spinneybeck leather from Jules Seltzer Associates. “We always want to bring an edge to these classic pieces. And this royal blue color looks like liquid metal,” he says of the seating around the table. To counterbalance the jeweled hue, he also covered custom Jean-Michel Frank armchairs in a fuchsia fabric from Scalamandre.
To create true synergy between indoors and out, Jackson reimagined the terrace as a true continuation of the interior living spaces. “We completely ripped out the entire back to allow both the master bedroom and the living room to open up onto the courtyard,” he says. The seating area also serves as “sort of a yin and yang with the indoor living room,” featuring a Marbella teak sectional from RH that echoes the black-and-white palette used inside. The traditional cottage grounds were also replaced with a more tailored look by Diamond Landscaping.