Southern California is known for its bounty of beautiful Spanish-style homes with red terracotta roofs, stucco walls, black wrought iron details, and expansive archways. Many were built in the 1920s and 30s as the new world of filmmaking spurred a boom in the famously mild-weathered region. Exuding the glamor of Old Hollywood, these classic homes tend to have the sort of complex interior layouts that were popular at the time, and plenty of dark wood interior finishes.
Los Angeles-born film producer Grace Morton grew up admiring those homes and always wanted to live in one. But her personal aesthetic doesn’t exactly dovetail with the dark, serious tone they can have inside. Shopping for a new residence with her fiancé, fellow film producer Matthew Budman, Morton envisioned something much brighter and more cheerful to serve as the backdrop for her colorful, eclectic decor.
“I always loved the soulful vibe and sense of history in Spanish-style homes,” Morton told Architectural Digest. “I was definitely not looking for new construction or anything aggressively modern. But Matt and I are both young, and we wanted something more attuned to our energy and lifestyle. So we decided to lean into those contradictory impulses and accentuate the contrast.”
Morton found just the right starting point in a 1927 home in Beverly Hills, and brought in designer Billy Cotton to transform it into the adventurous and playful abode she dreamed of. To create a clean canvas that would open the spaces visually, Cotton recommended painting all the dark wood ceilings and beams white. Yves Saint Laurent’s home in Marrakech, Morocco and Villa Borsani near Milan, Italy served as the two biggest sources of style inspiration as Morton and Cotton chose furnishings and accents, filling each room with interesting elements in the proper proportions.
In the living room, a wall of bookcases was replaced with a built-in plaster banquette covered in blue and white cushions. Low-slung vintage Mario Bellini furniture in yellow velvet and chairs by Italian designers Tito Agnoli and Gio Ponti are balanced by a Royére-inspired chandelier, neon art by Tracey Emin, and a painting by Laura Owens.
The cozy family room adjourns into a dramatic bar clad in indigo blue seagrass wall covering by Élitis. Leopard-print carpet, Italian bamboo chairs in vintage floral prints, and midcentury Italian bar tiles with a Greek key motif are piled atop one another in the small space – a bold move that fits Morton’s more-is-more philosophy.
The breakfast room feels restrained in comparison with its curving banquette seating and fun wallpaper by artist Alvaro Barrington. In the primary bedroom, however, the vibe was kept more minimalist and relaxing, with the only pop of pattern coming from floral-patterned sheets by D. Porthault.
Some readers may cringe at the thought of painting over original woodwork, but others will appreciate how much more airy and updated the spaces feel as a result. Everything is customized to Morton’s personal tastes, but her Italian and Moroccan visual influences complement the style of the Spanish-style home instead of working against it. The result feels like a natural update, respectful of the home’s history while conveying a little bit of the owner’s quirky sensibilities.