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Publication Date: 2019-10-17

Design Insights

Designer Madeline Stuart's Personal Take on LA Style

She was raised in Hollywood, so it's no surprise that interior designer Madeline Stuart would become accustomed to a variety of architectural styles and ways of living. The Los Angeles-based designer has become a master at creating elegant yet livable homes no matter the vernacular—Moorish, Art Deco, or Arts & Craft. In her new book, No Place Like Home (Rizzoli), she shares in-depth looks at eight residences, each representing a specific aesthetic. As she herself says, "I’m now confident I have a style that’s uniquely my own. I’m neither a traditionalist nor a modernist. I’ve come to respect and embrace design from virtually all periods. These interiors are not set designs created for the camera, and there are no velvet ropes barring entry. And although the projects are distinctly different, I like to think that aspects of each link them together, even if I can't say for certain exactly what those elements are."

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Photo by Trevor Tondro

The furnishings in the living room of a Los Angeles guest house were inspired by the iconic California architects Greene & Greene. When I was brought on board, the aesthetic mandate for the project was to embrace the essence of the Arts and Crafts style, but with restraint and a dash of modernism. My mantra would be “Referential, not reverential.”  The pieces represent a wide range of influences, countries, and artisans — including a console table and chairs by noted Swedish designer Axel Einar Hjorth, a pair of stools by French furniture maker Charles Dudouyt, Japanese bronze-and-paper lanterns, a Morris chair from France, an English copper standing lamp, American art pottery, and a custom bronze-and-rift-oak coffee table with faux-bamboo legs.

Photo by Trevor Tondro

This house was originally owned by renowed Hollywood set designer Cedric Gibbons and his wife, actress Dolores del Río. It is a Streamline Moderne masterpiece built in 1930. Art Deco interiors are often thought of as being monochromatic, because the images we associate with the era were photographed in black and white. In this renovation, I opted for a richly hued palette that’s meant to convey a 1930s sensibility. Mirrors — like the one over the banquette — are used in many of the rooms, ostensibly as a tribute to del Río’s beauty.

Photo by Trevor Tondro

This 1980s home in Jackson, Wyoming, was completely renovated by David Lake of San Antonio–based firm Lake|Flato Architects to become essentially a glass-enclosed tree house. The living room features exceptional views of the Snake River and the Teton Range in the distance. The chairs in the foreground are vintage T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, and the custom area rug is made up of squares of sheared fur.

Photo by Trevor Tondro

In a new house for art collectors by architect Marc Appleton, the height of the living room was dictated, in part, by the dimensions of the Morris Louis painting; miniature maquettes of the clients’ works of art helped to determine placement. The rosewood sofas are joined by a pair of Jules Leleu wood-framed chairs from the 1930s. The red-lacquered orb on the coffee table is by Robert Kuo. For me, the objective was quite clear: the backgrounds and furniture had to defer to the artwork in a respectful and cooperative manner. That didn’t mean pieces couldn’t be elegant or interesting or beautiful, just nothing that demanded too much attention. The art was the star, and the furnishings the supporting cast.

Photo by Trevor Tondro

This house in Three Forks, Montana, was conceived by David Lake of Lake|Flato Architects, as a deceptively simple structure set close to the ground and nestled into a hillside.The interior is essentially a single space divided into areas for living, cooking, and dining, with a screened-in porch at the far end. The retaining walls are board-form concrete, and the interior walls are a combination of reclaimed wood and Douglas fir.

Photo by Trevor Tondro

Moss rock, a low stained-wood ceiling, and painted-oak walls create a cozy inglenook off the double-height living room of the house in Jackson, Wyoming. The lounge chairs were custom made for the house and surround a vintage table by Philip and Kelvin LaVerne.

Designer Madeline Stuart's new book No Place Like Home, published by Rizzoli.

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