Sidney Poitier admittedly is more of a household name than is his wife, Joanna. An Oscar, a knighthood, and a hot-selling book make sure of that. But in their Beverly Hills home, the roles reverse. Joanna, an interior designer, is the unequivocal star; the entire house is her stage. Built in 1925 in the Mediterranean architectural style that ruled the state during that era, the house bespeaks Joanna’s “Old World meets comfortable California eclectic” approach to design. Her window treatments are especially telling. Over earthy bamboo blinds that calm the sun, panels of hand-embroidered and appliquéd silk and taffeta billow from below the ceiling beams to settle luxuriantly onto the floor like sleepy cats. That congenial coupling of casual contemporary and formal classic, of practical and elegant, is what this house and Joanna’s signature style are all about.
“Beautiful but comfortable” is how she defines it. Her fondness for gold-leafed 18th-century antiques doesn’t preclude “people putting their feet up on the table. I have no problem if children play with my crystal. If something breaks, it’s not the end of the world. It’s just an object,” she explains. “Design isn’t my life. My life is my family and their well-being.”
Text by Candace Ord Manroe
Photographs by Edmund Barr
Produced by Cathy Whitlock
Joanna Poitier, J.S.P. Interiors Inc., Los Angeles, CA 90048; 310/273-8990, fax, 310/273-9279.
Florio Collection, owners Joanna Poitier and Janet Rodriquez, 310/273-8003; fax, 310/273-9279, floriocollection.com, trade only.