It takes sensitivity and a deft hand to resurrect a historic home. Faced with the task of bringing a Hollywood Regency home in the Country Club District gently into the current day, local homeowners turned to designer Kelee Katillac.
“This house was designed by Morton Payne. It’s Hollywood French Regency, which was very popular in its day. Payne worked in the same style as (mid-century California designer) Wallace Neff. You see a lot of houses like this in California and Palm Springs,” notes Katillac.
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True to its name, the aesthetic is theatrical. Dramatically patterned marble floor—check. Graphic iron railing—check. Paneled doors, large picture windows, charming porte-cochère—check, check and check.
Katillac realized that she had the opportunity to help the homeowners make the house the very best version of itself.
“The owners are Francophiles. We wanted to turn up the volume on that aspect while remaining respectful of the house. Harry Truman played cards here. We wanted to embrace all of that.”
The designer, with the help of assistant Sherry Mirador, chose backgrounds in shades of grey and white to provide a classic and consistent palette. For the salon, which has the original rococo revival style mantle, Katillac chose a Louis Phillip mirror to bring in the French modern elements. Ten elegantly framed photos of French poets adorn the room. While many of the elements are classic, Katillac deftly keeps the room grounded in the present. Lucite takes a supporting role in the sconces and the ottoman legs. The rug is an updated, over-sized trellis and graphic Greek key trims the curtains.
“I like to use Greek key. It has a reference to the ironwork. It was important in Hollywood Regency design and it’s ornamental and classic at the same time,” says Katillac.
Still, she enjoys an element of surprise.
“We used Kate Spade marbled fabric for the pillows. It has such a rock star element. You know, a Katy Perry version of classic French style.”
The salon opens onto the garden room. Katillac notes that this room and the salon are spatially together, but visually disparate. Repeating columns define the space. The same Greek key trimmed curtains appear here, framing the view of the Meyer Boulevard fountain. Charming and whimsical paintings with strong notes of chinoiserie by Harrison Howard grace the walls. Katillac rocks French style here, too. A coveted Maison Jansen demilune chest happily co-exists with the bold marigold of pillows sporting a Jonathan Adler fabric.
Balancing the larger spaces is a smaller den encased in painted paneling. “This room had been red before,” notes Katillac. “We installed the paneling and painted it grey. It’s a great space to display the owners’ collection of Thomas Hart Benton engravings.”
The owners had previously updated the kitchen and were interested in bringing it along with the rest of the house without undergoing construction. They started with a new paint color on the cabinets and a refresh in the breakfast area with neutral fabrics. “We were able to update and restyle by adding color and changing light fixtures,” says Katillac. She notes that they updated light fixtures by changing out pleated linen shades for paper. “It just feels fresher.”
Katillac designed the master bedroom to be a soothing retreat.
“They had opened the space in a previous remodel and they already had a very nice four poster bed.” Katillac added new curtains, new bedding with linen banding and fresh, modern lighting.
Katillac had the opportunity to design the outdoor spaces, as well. An existing brick patio turns up the glam with a covered pool cabana punctuated with black, square planters housing dozens of expertly clipped boxwoods.
She notes that in every way the project was a dream.
“So often in new houses we end up with these cavernous rooms with one light source. That’s the wonderful thing about this house. There’s natural light coming from all directions. It makes everything look like a Rembrandt still-life. It’s one of the things about the house that I fell in love with.”