November 22, 2017
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What it is: Born of larger-than-life movie set design during the golden age of filmmaking, Hollywood Regency brings the glamour and glitz in a big way. It was intended to create a dramatic backdrop for the real drama taking place in its midst. Actor-turned-designer William Haines and his contemporaries Dorothy Draper and Billy Baldwin pioneered the look; in recent years, star designers such as Kelly Wearstler and Jonathan Adler have helped to propel it to renewed popularity.
Why it works: Hollywood Regency samples from a smorgasbord of other styles (chinoiserie, neoclassical, art deco, modern) without feeling like a mishmash. It exudes sophistication and confidence, with an undertone of swagger. The appeal lies in its refined air and impeccable elegance, as well as the way it encourages personality and individual expression.
You’ll love it if … You belt out show tunes in the shower. Friends label you a drama queen (affectionately, right?). You think every space—even your laundry room—deserves a crystal chandelier. Your garden is filled with lotus flowers; your yard, edged with bamboo. Sunset Boulevard tugs at your heart every time.
Amoroso Design, original photo on Houzz
Style Secret: Small-Scale Furnishings
With an eye toward cocktail parties and conversation, Hollywood Regency interiors put people squarely in the spotlight. The classic school of thought is to keep chairs, chaises and sofas low slung and modest in scale so they don’t overshadow the guests perched on them, and to arrange them in a way that invites tête-à-têtes. Avoid scattering furniture against the perimeter of a room, or, worse, grouping it around the TV.
Behind the scenes: In such a dramatic style, you might imagine that furnishings would be outlandish. But Hollywood Regency furniture actually hews to the neoclassical-inspired lines of traditional English Regency antiques, albeit with a more modern and stylized air. Art deco, with its symmetry, ornamentation and streamlined profile, also informs the look.
Maison21, original photo on Houzz
Style Secret: Strong Color
If there's one color scheme that anchors this style, it's black and white, which epitomizes the sharp contrast that characterizes Hollywood Regency interiors (and shows up well in films). But jolts of bright, juicy color lend the energy that the look demands. Think turquoise, fuchsia, tangerine, regal purple. Keep the palette focused to avoid a kitschy rainbow effect.
Behind the scenes: Layer in color in a way that celebrates contrast. A teal chair against a sapphire-blue wall won't pop in the same way that a red one against bright yellow will. Metallics also can help enhance and amplify the brights, as long as they don't compete with them.
Style Secret: Bold Pattern
Pattern helps to embellish the Hollywood Regency setting. Trellis and animal prints, Art deco and neoclassical motifs, wide stripes and geometrics all are on point, as is black and white harlequin flooring. Leave the timid florals and mannerly plaids to another style; this one requires a more emphatic approach.
Behind the scenes: Wallpaper is back in vogue, and Hollywood Regency practically begs for it. Now’s your chance to work in a showy print or splurge on a hand-painted mural-style design. If you worry that a whole room will be overkill, try papering just an accent wall or the ceiling, or set off an oversize panel with a gilt frame.
DecorDemon, original photo on Houzz
Style Secret: Lacquered Finishes
What's a glamorous room without a little sheen? With lustrous depth and a tough-as-nails finish, glossy lacquer elevates pedestrian furnishings and takes elegant ones over the top. Choose vivid colors, such as tomato red, Prussian blue or kelly green, and lacquer unexpected pieces—perhaps a bamboo étagère or a pedestal table—to make the look even more daring.
Behind the scenes: True lacquering is a complicated and time-consuming process, usually handled by pros. So take a shortcut. We won't tell. Home centers and paint stores carry lacquer spray paints (Krylon and Rustoleum are two major brands) that will give you the gleam you're going for.
Tracy Murdock Allied ASID, original photo on Houzz
Style Secret: Luxe Fabrics
Picture film heroines of the ‘30s and ‘40s: swingy silk gowns, satin robes, fur stoles. Now translate that to your interiors. Thick, opulent fabrics stand up to the grandeur of a Hollywood Regency room. Choose textiles that appear as lush to the eye as they feel to the hand: velvet, chenille, suede.
Behind the scenes: Selecting the right fabrics is only half the battle — you’ve got to use them to maximum effect. You want more yardage, not less. Allow for lavish draping, generous gathering and a broad sweep. Imagine the bed in this photo with a few skimpy sheers underneath a plain, flat canopy. Kind of loses its magic, doesn’t it?
Style Secret: Chinoiserie
Chinoiserie, a French term that denotes Chinese-influenced style, became a fashionable top note in Hollywood Regency interiors, thanks to the fascination with Asian décor that arose in Old Hollywood (Grauman's Chinese Theatre, anyone?). Whether it appears in the guise of wallpaper, furniture, art or accents, it features intricate detailing; traditional Asian motifs, such as birds, flowers and landscapes; and, as often as not, touches of gilt. It feels outré yet familiar at the same time.
Behind the scenes: There's a difference between authentic Chinese décor and chinoiserie, which originated in 18th-century Europe. Chinoiserie represents a more flamboyant and whimsical interpretation of Chinese style, and this makes it especially well suited to a room with theatrical flair. But because Hollywood Regency embraces a collected, worldly look, Chinese antiques and accessories feel equally appropriate. Blend the two together for a pleasing punch-and-counterpunch effect.
Modern Living Room, original photo on Houzz
Style Secret: Mirrors, Mirrors
The question of mirrors in this style is not whether, it’s how many. (Mirrors and movie stars were made for each other, after all.) Mix mirrored panels, framed mirrors, furniture and accents to create sparkle and cast light. Use them judiciously, however, or you’ll feel like you’re in a carnival funhouse. While a layered effect, such as a framed looking glass mounted on a mirrored wall, can be striking, a lot of different mirrors reflecting each other will add up to visual confusion.
Behind the scenes: You should always pay attention to what a mirror will reflect, but it’s especially important with Hollywood Regency’s emphasis on showcasing people at their best. Guests may not mind catching a glimpse of themselves as they sip a drink or nibble a canapé, but it’s a rare soul who wants to watch herself consume a three-course meal in the dining room. If a wall mirror won’t work in your space, consider other reflective surfaces, such as mercury glass lamps and mirrored tabletops or picture frames.
For People Design, original photo on Houzz
Style Secret: Fanciful Details
Just like the cinema, Hollywood Regency style evokes a sense of escapism. Outrageous accents are right at home: luxuriantly carved frames and mirrors, voluptuous crystal lamps, tasseled pillows, splashy art. Include touches of the exotic and avant-garde, and focus on personal pieces that lend a sense of who you are. Emphasize character—mass-produced objects rarely hold the charisma that this look demands.
Behind the scenes: Hollywood Regency style is not cluttered, but neither is it spare. Here’s the tricky part: editing in a way that walks the tightrope between minimalism and excess. A fabulous piece should command the spotlight, so let it—crowding it with flotsam will dilute its power. Select accents with enough presence and panache, and they’ll make an impact through quality rather than quantity. And above all, be sure there’s a common denominator, be it color, finish or theme, among the items you choose. Otherwise, the look can quickly devolve into chaos.