A Wallace Neff Home Is Reinterpreted In Pasadena

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eclectic living room vintage textiles...

Burnham aimed for a collected sensibility in the living room with vintage textiles on throw pillows and a vintage rug from Rugs and Art. The wing chairs by Sabin flank a Rose Tarlow Melrose House library table and are joined by a Lee Industries ottoman. The Kathryn M. Ireland drapery fabric is from Jasper.

eclectic entry brown staircase whimsical...

Designer Betsy Burnham left the original tile and wrought-iron stair balusters intact inside the entry of a Pasadena residence by revered Southern California architect Wallace Neff, but she replaced the lighting throughout, opting for whimsical fixtures such as the Bourgeois Boheme Atelier fixture crowning this space. The Dutch-style bench is by Formations.

eclectic living room fireplace bronze...

A George Smith chesterfield sofa in linen by Suzanne Kasler faces an A. Rudin sofa wearing wool-flannel from Holland & Sherry in the living room. Burnham discovered the bronze floor lamp at Pat McGann Gallery. The red coffee table is from Pagoda Red in Chicago, and the live-edge table is from Lawson-Fenning. A pair of Minton-Spidell chairs in a Peter Fasano stripe offer more seating.

eclectic living room vintage table...

One of Burnham's tasks was to incorporate her clients' large collection of paintings into the design; two of them anchor a vignette in the living room. Completing the tableau are a vintage table from Hollywood at Home, a Charlie West Lamps light and a Vaughan sconce.

eclectic sitting area in great...

Chairs from the owners' collection received a new life with Peter Dunham's Textiles fabric; they surround the couple's own table in a corner of the great room and above is a Noguchi pendant. The draperies are in an oversize Kathryn M. Ireland stripe from Jasper.

eclectic kitchen white cabinetry island...

The kitchen got a thorough makeover: The cabinets, adorned with hardware from Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co., are painted Dunn-Edwards Muslin, and the island is in Sherwin-Williams Olive Grove. Pulling up to the island are Noir stools. The backsplash tile and lighting are from Waterworks; the Rohl faucet is from George's Showroom.

eclectic dining room chandelier vibrant...

Burnham lightened the mood in the dining room with a chandelier from Design Within Reach, a vibrant carpet from Woven, and draperies in Romo fabric from Thomas Lavin that were fabricated at Home Couture by Teresa Prater. The host and side chairs are by Lee Industries.

eclectic office multi-colored

In the office, a Saarinen table and executive chair from Design Within Reach fulfilled one of the owners' request for a space that fit his nontraditional style of working. The eye-catching patterns on the vintage kilim from Michaelian & Kohlberg and the Zak+Fox drapery contrast with the Farrow & Ball shade on the wall. Illuminating the room is a Sputnik fixture from Little Paris Antiques.

eclectic bathroom black and white...

Burnham updated the pool bathroom with Ann Sacks pebble flooring and a sconce by Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. over the existing sink. Jaunty striped beach towels from Pottery Barn sit on top of the owners' vintage covered basket.

eclectic bedroom canopy bed striped...

An inlaid four-poster bed from Anthropologie sets a lively tone in the frequently-used guest room, and the energy continues on a Lee Industries bench dressed in fabric by Zak+Fox from Kneedler-Fauchere. The bedside lights are by Charlie West Lamps, and the draperies are in Les Indiennes fabric.

eclectic loggia pool area sitting...

For the loggia, the clients requested a space where they could relax comfortably together or with company. Furnishings by Kingsley Bate fill the bill. Burnham livened up the seating with pillows in vintage textiles.

Decorating a historic home, by definition, means honoring the architecture of the past while infusing it with new traditions. And when said home was designed by Wallace Neff, perhaps the most famous Southern California architect of the early 20th century, the task is all the more delicate. Los Angeles designer Betsy Burnham beautifully accomplished that mission for her clients in Pasadena’s historic district. We sat down with her to talk about how she pulled it off.

It’s such an opportunity to decorate a 1927 home by Wallace Neff, the father of “California style.” How did it look when you came on board?

The house was in good condition. It had been decorated previously and taken care of, but it was a little down. The outside was pinky-beige. Inside, there was a lot of wood.

What were your clients looking for?

They asked to be pushed a bit out of their comfort zone. My clients are two gentlemen. They never really asked me for ‘masculine,’ but that was top of mind. There’s a groundedness to both of them that I wanted to bring forward. They also wanted a lot of color–and they let us do some really funky things to the home.

Was there anything in Neff’s architecture that inspired your approach?

It’s a classic Mediterranean. There was a lot of dark brown on the ceilings and floors, and all that red tile, so I used a lot of black and white to provide contrast and keep it energized. I used a lot of olives and browns and reds in the living room, but one of the sofas is a pale ice-blue linen. Maintaining contrast is important–that was something we were looking for.

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