Tonight's Academy Awards will surely exude an air of luxury as actors dress to be either new style icons or channel the old Hollywood glamour of the red carpet. In celebration of tonight's event, I thought I'd give some insight into a truly Hollywood aesthetic - Hollywood Regency.
The glamorous looks of Hollywood movie set and costume designers have influenced the imaginations of designers and magazine editors since the 1930's. The Hollywood Regency interior design style is rooted in the glitz and glamour of the film industry. Iconic figures of the past golden-age of Hollywood, like Joan Crawford and Jean Harlow (below), brought the opulence of the industry into their home.
This style got it's start through William Haines, the first openly gay Hollywood actor. After MGM terminated his contract in 1936, Haines reinvented himself as an interior designer, getting his start with early clients like Joan Crawford & Carole Lombard. He quickly propelled to designer stardom and was largely responsible for the birth of Hollywood Regency design.
Another designer, Dorothy Draper, is also credited with launching this style. In 1923, Draper became the first designer to establish an interior design company in the United States. She had a flair for the dramatic and theatrical and became well known for her over scaled and brightly colored versions of classic traditional rooms, her love for checkered floors, intricate mirrors, and lacquered doors.
Classic Hollywood Regency design is characterized with black and white color schemes, geometric patterns and blocks of color in acid yellows. Other common accessories are zebra rugs, mirrored surfaces, Chippendale bamboo chairs, and faux furs next to high-gloss lacquered pieces. Over the decades, this style has evolved. Below are a few tips to bring the luxury and elegance of Hollywood Regency into your home while still staying contemporary.
1. Blend bold colors and patterns - Don't be afraid to really commit to the mix of large-scale patterns and saturated colors. A black and white color palette with a pop of color is classic Hollywood Regency. If you want to tone down the drama a bit, then you can use a more muted color palette with touches of black and bold color. Limit the number of saturated colors in the room. Simplification of the palette will make a bigger impact than throwing in all colors into the mix. As for patterns, a room that is too flat will look too modern. Add patterns to upholstery, rugs, wall treatments and drapery.
2. Keep entertaining in mind - Instead of the over-sized sectional focused on a television that is so prevalent in our homes today, try to focus your seating arrangements to accommodate conversation. In order to do this, scale down your furniture so you can group seating in clusters. After arranging your seating, try sitting in each seat to make sure the grouping feels natural from all angles.
3. Add high-lacquered and reflective surfaces - Solid furniture and architectural details (like moulding) should have the shiny "lip-gloss" effect. This will help elevate your decor and add the glitz into your design. Try adding a mirrored/glass coffee table or high-lacquered buffet to your room to inject some glamour.
4. Globalize your decor - Touches of the East are prevalent in Hollywood Regency design. Traditional additions are Chinoiserie patterned wallpaper, fretwork, bamboo and cane chairs painted in a bold glossy color, or divider screens in a Japanese or Moroccan-inspired pattern. Don't hesitate to add in European design elements, too. Over-sized Parisian carved mirrors and frames fit into this design style nicely.
5. Invest in classic pieces - If money is no object, then invest in Dorothy Draper or William Haines pieces. They are true antique collectables and will only see their value increase over the next few decades. If you want a more affordable splurge, find a vintage Porters or cane chair to put at a small mirrored desk, a Chinoiserie mirror, an ornate chandelier, or some oversize porcelain animals just for show. Jonathan Adler has a great selection of decor and furniture to choose from.
A Hollywood Regency room is the exact opposite of mass-market decorating. The decor should look like you spent years scouring antiques shops and tag sales to find objects of true interest and enduring value. While curating your furniture and decor, keep in mid that you are creating a type of movie set for a life that is as rich and full and interesting as a star on the silver screen.