11 min

VOGUE - A Spanish Colonial undergoes a very beautiful Hollywood makeover

A passion for sensitive, yet comprehensive transformations is the key to House of Rolison’s success. The redesign of a classic 1930s Spanish Colonial in the Hollywood Hills—is no exception. Photographed by Michael Clifford. Styled by Francesca Grace

It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking all Hollywood homes look the same. After all, there are certain reality TV shows centred on the glitzy world of Los Angeles real estate that would have you convinced all the Hollywood Hills mansions are of the ultra-private, super-modern, glass-box kind. And yes, while it’s true there is an abundance of billionaire’s bachelor pads in LA, there is also an equal number of beautiful and historic homes, which are simply begging to be restored.


Like this 3,500 square-foot Spanish Colonial, set in the California hills with sweeping views of the Hollywood sign, downtown LA and the wider basin. Built in 1936 and set on a half-acre block, the four-bedroom and five-bathroom property was redesigned by Los Angeles-based building and design firm House of Rolison. The project was overseen by principals Amanda Leigh and Taylor Hahn, whose work on the gut renovation was intended to sensitively reimagine a historic home.


“For the design of the home, we wanted to incorporate the authenticity of the era in which it was built as much as possible, while still giving it a fresh contemporary feel and functionality,” says Leigh. “A lot of these [Hollywood] homes can sometimes feel dated and drab, or are overly modernised and tend to lose their soul and feel cold,” she explains. “We made it our mission to keep the soul of the home, while making the design feel custom to the propensity of its history.”


The home certaintly exudes a sense of comfort and warmth, made easier with House of Rolison’s partnership with stylist Francesca Grace who worked on the styling and furnishings for the house. Filled with natural tones, textural fabrics and organically shaped pieces, there’s a sense of tranquillity that envelopes each space. “We like to instil a feeling of warmth and liveability through bold monochromatic colour schemes to give each room its own story and emotion,” says Hahn.


“We used natural stone throughout the home, leaving the textures feeling grounded and organic.” They also added a lot of period-specific 1930s lighting to the home with the help of Revival Antiques, including notable pieces by architect Wallace Neff.


Of course, when it came to the restoration of such a heritage property, there’s always a degree of care and bargaining that needs to happen. What to keep—and what to replace? “It's always a delicate balance to restore old homes,” agrees Leigh, who says this was the trickiest part of the project. “It's hard to be comfortable with taking out existing pieces that hold historic value.”


In the end, the House of Rolison team chose to repurpose any original parts of the home that didn’t work, ensuring that they would find a second life elsewhere. “We had a restoration team from Pasadena Architectural Salvage come in and carefully remove any pieces that posed future issues, needed to be restored, or did not fit into the design of the project,” explains Leigh. “We felt much better knowing that these pieces would live on and not be destroyed.”


One such find that they didn’t want to hand over, though, was a buried treasure trove of original glass detailing. “We found original textured amber glass windows preserved beautifully inside the walls,” explains Leigh. “It was an anomaly that these had not been broken or damaged throughout the years.” Instead of donating these, the team chose to store them in the warehouse for safekeeping—in the hope they will one day be put to good use in a different property.


With the job now complete, it’s given Leigh and Hahn time to reflect on the finished product. “The home turned out exactly how we had hoped,” says Hahn. “The exterior has a massive 5,000 pound, nine-inch tall fountain imported from Italy, and paints the perfect picture of European flair.”


But while the outdoor fountain does make a splash, it’s the upstairs living room, with its view of downtown LA, that makes Hahn and Leigh most proud. “As you step through the front door [it] has sprawling views under a vaulted ceiling and is the perfect entertaining space,” explains Leigh.


“We incorporated a limestone bar, with custom scalloped edge details. The bar ceiling is oak imported from Italy, which pairs beautifully with the Italian faucets we chose for the bar sink. It [also] has a grey marble powder room with a custom limestone sink, giving it all the functionality for evening cocktails with friends.”


The upstairs living room.


A bathroom.


A bedroom.


Another bathroom.


Another bedroom.


Another view of a bedroom.


The staircase.


A view of the living room at dusk.

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