It was pre-pandemic when the Los Angeles–based interior designer Oliver M. Furth’s clients approached him about updating their new home in the coveted flats of Beverly Hills. The couple had recently relocated from New York City hoping to capture the same urban charm but in a less chaotic environment.
“The husband and wife are both from California,” Furth says. “And after living in Manhattan for two decades, they felt it was time to come home.”
The couple rented for a while before stumbling upon the two-story Georgian-style property set on nearly half an acre in the heart of the 90210 zip code. “Beverly Hills is a garden city, but the flats are really urban—you’re only four blocks from all the shops, so everything is really walkable,” he adds. “They consider themselves New Yorkers, so incorporating that urban feel into the design was important to them.”
The home was built in 1929; its original style was still somewhat evident, but it had been remodeled a number of times over the years, and many of the period details had been covered up or removed entirely. Still, it had great bones and plenty of heart. “Oliver was very eager to keep what we loved—its charm, which reminded us of our apartment in New York City—and make it livable and current,” the homeowners explain.
“We were looking at a sort of Paul Williams aesthetic,” says Furth, referring to the famed Los Angeles architect who once designed homes for Frank Sinatra, Barbara Stanwyck, and Lucille Ball. “So I used [that era] as a point of reference for restoring some architectural gravitas to the home.”
But even the best-laid plans can go somewhat awry: During the 10 months Furth spent renovating and outfitting the home, the world changed. “Initially, there was a very structured foundation for the design, but, as we began the installation, we decided to be a bit more playful based on the current state of events,” he says. The result is a colorful, functional, and family-friendly retreat from the uncertainty gripping the world. “It has enough space that we can all find our own area and not be on top of one another,” the homeowners add. “But the elements meant to draw us together—like the den downstairs with the giant pink sofa—are never far away.”
Furth began with a nod to old Hollywood by laying the Carrara and Nero Marquina marble checkerboard flooring, which extends throughout much of the main level. The staircase—one of the home’s original elements—was given more prominence when Furth chose to ebonize the steps, adding to the graphic quality of the space. “We uncovered the balustrade and banister, which were both original, then custom-built all the paneling on the walls to highlight staircase,” he says.
Playing with contrasts of color and textures, Furth created the ultimate lounge space worthy of a Fifth Avenue penthouse. “I gave the walls this beautiful Manila Hemp grass cloth from Phillip Jeffries—with its ‘Triscuit’ texture—and set it off by lacquering the ceiling in Pratt & Lambert’s high-gloss lacquer in Gun Powder.” He then juxtaposed the custom upholstered “lipstick pink” Romo Linara linen sofa against the antique Mashad rug to accentuate the New York vibe the homeowners wanted.
The homeowner’s collection of objects and artwork—including a Jean-Michel Basquiat Cabeza screen print—creates the final, personal layer. “The ceramic Love light fixture by Ryan Mennealy was a gift from the husband to his wife—the cutouts are made up of dots and dashes that spell the word love in Morse code,” Furth says.
What was originally five rooms and a service staircase is now a place where the family can hang out and entertain. “The existing country-style kitchen had been redone in the ’80s, complete with hand-painted tiles depicting farm animals,” Furth adds with a laugh. “It was the joke of the project because it’s definitely not a country house.”
The designer extended the marble checkerboard flooring into the space and clad the walls in white subway tile. “Thanks to Oliver, our kitchen is the hub of our home and also the sexiest and chicest room,” the homeowners say. “Not a person comes into our home who doesn’t comment on it—it’s not often you see a black lacquer kitchen, especially in L.A.”
“This is a casual place for the family to gather,” Furth says of this light-filled breakfast area. “There’s a big banquette to hangout on, a bulletproof concrete table, a television—so between kids, dogs, food, and red wine, everything can happen in here.”
Furth had the vintage table updated with a custom top by Concrete Cat and upholstered the custom banquette with faux leather and had it put on casters. “I always think about what might happen a decade from now, so if you remove the banquette the room could serve an entirely new purpose,” the designer notes.
“It’s pretty glam in here, but it’s a realistic glamour,” Furth says of the home’s dining room. “There’s an antique table and rug, sconces we found in Paris, and an Astrolabe chandelier, but the chairs are Eames—they’re plastic and can take a spill. I didn’t want anything to feel too precious or fussy. We wanted people to feel comfortable, not only physically, but emotionally.” For the wall color he chose Farrow & Ball’s Brinjal and had a matching custom high-gloss lacquer made for the ceiling.
“This space was heading in one direction—we had plans for beautiful hand-painted silverleaf wallpaper and fancy curtains—but the pandemic was in full swing and we switched gears,” the designer recalls. For this family, the change in direction meant setting up their Ping-Pong table in the center of the room, but the utilitarian room is also perfect for large dinner parties.
In contrast to the some of the more colorful rooms, Furth chose a combination of Farrow & Ball’s All White flat and high gloss for the walls and ceiling. “This room is flooded with light from three different directions all day, so we embraced it,” he says.
Formal Powder Room
Furth outfitted this space, which serves as the main powder room for guests, with gilt brass and gold fixtures and accessories in homage to 1930s glamour. “The client’s favorite flowers are peonies, so we blew up this pattern,” he says of the dramatic wallcovering. The custom circular wire mirror, with handmade ceramic beads by Marie Christophe, was commissioned by the husband as a gift for his wife.
“This was another little warren of rooms that we busted open to put a tub right in the center,” the designer says of his client’s dream bathroom. “There’s a tight language to this home that’s repeated throughout, with all the marble, shiny lacquered cabinets and walls, the very clean ivory linen window shades, and gilt brass and gold fixtures.”