What can be more stylish and chic than the charm of the beginning of the Hollywood era? Beautiful actresses in stunning dresses and handsome actors oozed with glamour and controlled the imagination of the normal people.
Such big personas of the big screen lead a lifestyle to match their stardom. They wanted all things luxurious and impressive, including their apartments. The thirties were an era doomed by the economic crisis and people yearned to see brighter, more beautiful world in the movies. This was the time when one of the most distinctive styles in interior design was born and it was the Hollywood Regency. The decades passed, but its charm never faded as it is still one of the most coveted interior design styles!
It all started with William Haines, who was a popular movie star working with the MGM Studios. Besides acting, he was heavily into interior design and owned an antique shop. As a man of his position, he knew all the famous actresses who were asking him to help them with designing their apartments. His perfect eye for the design and dozens of famous clients quickly gave him recognizability in his new career. He didn’t only sell antiques and decorate interiors, but he also designed furniture. Some of them are still available from time to time on different auctions and sell for thousands of dollars which clearly shows than the Hollywood Regency style is definitely still “in”! William Haines has begun his career in the late twenties, but he wasn’t an ordinary film star of those times – he was the first openly gay actor who refused to enter into a fake marriage that the MGM Studios wanted him to. As a result, in 1936 his career in movies ended abruptly when furious and conservative film producer Luis B. Mayer ripped his contract.
Fortunately, Haines has already a thriving interior design career going on which made him even more wealthy. He revolutionized the Hollywood’s interior design at the time. He introduced a stylish mix of English and French Regency and Greek Revival styles. As his career continued in the forties, he morphed his style into more plush modernism-like. In the sixties, he evolved his style by adding some touches of modernism and a dash of Chinoiserie (which means the European adaptation of traditional Asian art and interior decor). William Haines also developed a concept that furniture should be a bit smaller to not overwhelm the people that use it. This trick was also used in the movies to draw attention to the actors and actresses. The smaller size of the furniture was made up by the rich textures and details that looked stunning on the screen.
As William Haines can be viewed as the father of this unique interior design style, the mother of the Hollywood Regency design was definitely Dorothy Draper who was also one of the very first interior designers as she founded her company in 1923! Her take on the interior design was slightly different as she worked with bigger scale. She also created a style which was a bit more traditional than Haines’ glamour, but it was sometimes even bolder. Dorothy Draper wasn’t afraid of using vivid colours and lots of patterns including bold stripes and tropical florals. Her work was visible in many of the most luxurious hotels and clubs. Draper’s career was successful even by the current standards which were even more impressive in an era when women were mostly only housewives. Her work survived to our times and you can see it in a stunning West Virginia’s Greenbrier Hotel which was renovated to look exactly as Draper designed it decades ago.
So what are the main elements of the Hollywood Regency style? Read on!
Furniture in this interior design style shouldn’t overwhelm the people using the interiors. They should stay in the background and below slung and not flashy in scale. They should feature a modern look on the traditional English Regency pieces. The placement is also crucial, as in this style the goal is to invite people to interact with each other and engage in inspiring conversations rather than to gather them in front of the TV. In Hollywood Regency, it’s all about the people – it’s a style that emerged before we all got handcuffed to our TVs, laptops, and smartphones. The scale may be tricky to get it right as you don’t want the furniture to completely fade away in the background.
Make it unique
The Hollywood Regency style is one of the boldest and the most eye-catching ways to decorate an interior. It’s highly visually interesting thanks to the variety of rich colors, plush textures, and exquisite shapes. It’s supposed to look as you were travelling the world, visiting flea markets in Europe and Asia and picking the perfect pieces that absolutely stole your heart. It’s all about making your space truly yours and expressing your taste and character through interior design.
Focus on the gloss
This style is pretty much non-existent without its glossy surfaces. Vibrant colors get even bolder if they are shiny which gives a truly bold effect. The modern take on this style is all about very expressive choices. How are you going to give your interior the vibe of the glitz and the glamour of the finest times of the Hollywood if not by choosing glossy statement pieces? It’s the perfect occasion to go a little DIY-style and buy a glossy paint to give some of your pieces a total makeover. Opt for rich colors such as deep black, fiery Asian red, vibrant yellow or turquoise for a truly striking effect.
Another must have of the Hollywood Regency style is incorporating lots of luxe textures. Forget boring cotton and linen, and leave it to the fans of the French cottage interiors. Focus on fabrics that ooze with style and sophistication. Suede, satin, silk, taffeta, damask, velvet, chenille, leather and faux fur are your go-to fabrics from now on. You can even incorporate all of them after all this style is all about being bold and a bit extravagant! Mix velvet curtains with silk lampshades, satin throw pillows, and faux fur blankets for a truly jaw-dropping style.
Pattern, pattern, pattern
The Hollywood Regency style is about clashing rich textures, vibrant hues but also bold patterns. Inspire on the Dorothy Draper’s projects and see how a striped wall can go well with florals on the chintz furniture and a tropical print of banana leaves on a plush carpet. It may sound like a crazy mess but actually, there’s a method to this madness as the final effect is oh-so-stylish with a dab of quirkiness which only makes it truly one-of-a-kind. So fret not and combine florals with graphic and abstract patterns. The Hollywood Regency style without its patterns would look too austere and modern and would definitely lose its extraordinary vibe. Did chinoiserie combine with bold stripes? Sure, why not? And if you feel like really going wild with the design, put some pattern on… the ceiling! How is that for an unexpected interior design move?
The fascination of Asian decor was pretty strong back in the old eras of the Hollywood. You can add your interior a bit of a Far East touch with some wallpaper, furniture or accessories. Usually. they feature some gilt accents along with the intricate landscapes, flowers, and birds which are all traditional Asian themes. You don’t have to always look for a Western take on the Asian decor. You can also include some actual Asian pieces like a traditional Chinese vase and so on.
The Hollywood Regency style is a tribute to the bold interior design solutions and that’s why you shouldn’t be surprised with the excess of mirrors and mirrored surfaces. Be sure to use big mirrors with fancy frames and even some mirrored commodes.
The devil is in the details
Accessories are a must in this style. Look for Art Deco pieces and scan the antique shops in your area to find some truly exceptional stuff that will make your space even more silver-screen-worthy.
Use of black and white
Apple green, turquoise, and other vibrant hues need something to tone them down a bit and black and white are the perfect colors to do just that. Plus geometrical patterns look extra stunning with this color pairing. Black and white introduce some order and minimalism to the Hollywood Regency interiors and act as a foundation for other decor choices.
Glass, crystals, and metallics
No glamour can go without a bit of a sparkle. That’s why some metallics are a must in any Hollywood Regency interior. Be it a lamp or a brass and glass Art Deco table, you should aim for pieces that are a reminiscence of the original designs of the twenties and thirties. A crystal chandelier is the best lighting fixture that you can pick to complement this style. Even better if you match it with a painted or patterned ceiling.
As you see the Hollywood Regency style is a design that evolved over the decades but always stayed true to its roots. Soon it will be almost one hundred years old and yet it doesn’t look like it’s going to go out of style. It’s extremely stunning but it’s also tricky to get it right. That’s why it’s always better to consult with a professional if you’re unsure about your vision. After all, you don’t want to end up with a flashy and chaotic mess! You want to create an interior which will be like a movie set to the greatest of the movies – your life!
How about you? Any enthusiasts of the Hollywood Regency style out there? Or maybe you just fell in love with this amazing way to decor your apartment?