Perched on a hillside above Hollywood, this home is pretty and relaxed.
In a town known more for glitz and glamour than veracity, the home of director John Pasquin and actress JoBeth Williams may seem a bit of an anomaly. Though their rambling Spanish-style home perches on a hillside high above Hollywood, comfort supersedes glitz here. Livability trumps glamour.
"One of the things we love most about this house," says John, "is that it doesn't feel like we're in Los Angeles."
JoBeth wholeheartedly agrees. "The rooms are intimate," she says. "We had young boys when we moved in and didn't want a showplace. We wanted something that felt like home--a place that would be comfortable yet still look appealing."
Initially, they didn't even have to step inside to know they'd found their new home. The grounds--dotted with rosebushes, myriad gardens, a small orchard, towering oaks, and star pines--won the couple over straightaway. "On our first visit, we weren't able to go into the house," recalls John. "We walked around the property and knew that if the house was anything like the grounds, we'd buy it immediately."
The house didn't disappoint. Built by architect Gerard R. Colcord in 1928, it featured classic architecture that painted the perfect backdrop for the relaxed yet elegant interiors crafted by designer Madeline Stuart--who was chosen not just for her style but for her adaptability.
"We liked very much that Madeline had specific tastes but also clearly understood that we wouldn't always use all of her suggestions," laughs John. "We live in the world of the arts and have strong opinions. We knew what we wanted and what we didn't. She understood that."
"There is nothing more gratifying than creating a home that truly reflects the people who live there," says Stuart, "and not who they aspire to be or how they think they should be perceived by others. Can you imagine how rare that can be in a town like Hollywood? This is an honest house--there's nothing phony or contrived. It's very John and JoBeth."
Subtle sophistication seems to be the guiding principle here, from the charming ivy-draped exteriors to the inviting coral-and-blue palette inside. Elegant but never over the top.
The palette originated with the living room rug--a prized find that acts as the perfect complement to Colcord's classic architecture. The large light-filled room, with its beamed ceilings, French doors, and wood floors, dominates the main floor and gets double billing as either a restful reading room or an ideal spot for evening entertaining.
A discreet smattering of awards offers the home's only nod to Hollywood. Instead, comfort gets top billing. Overscaled upholstered pieces--as comfy as they are refined--huddle around the fireplace while an overstuffed coral settee and etched leather screen offer a quiet corner nook.
With its subtle gilding, hand-stenciled and striated walls, and 19th-century French iron-and-marble console, the adjoining dining room is the most formal space in the house--managing to be stately without being overdecorated. "The mandate certainly wasn't about being a fancy dining room," explains Stuart,"although there are definitely some elements that make it dressy. But there's no reason you can't incorporate stunning fabrics, antique furniture, and exquisite accessories into a livable, beautiful, comfortable room."
In contrast, there's nothing formal about the well-used blue-and-white kitchen. It's all about casual here. That's not to say the space doesn't have a designer's touch and some exquisite materials. An 18th-century Portuguese tile mural installed above the range draws the eye, while creamy yellow marble countertops, blue-painted cabinets, and a terra-cotta tile floor peppered with blue diamond-shaped tiles define the space. In the adjoining breakfast room, a hand-painted mural--light-handed and ethereal--was inspired by murals in the Italian Villa of Livia at Prima Porta, near Rome.
In the master bedroom the vaulted ceiling, a 19th-century French chandelier, and an abundance of lush textures including a richly hued and unabashedly romantic tapestry combine to create a decidedly European atmosphere.
"The elements all work together wonderfully," says Stuart. "The more elegant aspects of the room are tempered by the rusticity of the beams."
Outdoors, John and JoBeth worked with landscape designer Art Luna to create a number of gardens--each with its own distinct personality, yet cohesive. Just up the hill from the hum of Tinseltown, this oasis welcomes hummingbirds, hawks, owls, and even a duck that calls the pool home. Bright sprays of bougainvillea cling to fences and mingle with roses in various hues of pinks and yellows. A kitchen garden planted with squash, kale, spinach, and tomatoes offers John a respite just feet from his home office. A fern garden hugs the house, and orange, pear, plum, and avocado trees (to name just a few) dot the hills.
"You want your home to be a haven," notes JoBeth. "There's so much information bombarding us. So much noise coming at us all the time. It's so rare to be able to find a place where you have peace. Thankfully, we've found that here."
Interior design: Madeline Stuart, Madeline Stuart & Assoc., 717 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90069; 310/657-8200, madelinestuart.com.
Landscape design: Art Luna, Art Luna Garden, 2116 Main St., Santa Monica, CA 90405; 310/450-9376, artlunagarden.com.
Photography: Werner Straube
An antique leather screen from Lee Stanton Antiques and a tufted sofa create a cozy corner seating area in the living room.
Architect Gerard R. Colcord designed the entry's stair railing. A tile at the foot of the stairs bears his signature.
The home's inviting Spanish style belies its location in the heart of Los Angeles.
Homeowners John Pasquin and JoBeth Williams.
The blues and golds of the dining room's painted commode and giltwood mirror complement the hand-stenciled, striated walls.
Designer Madeline Stuart filled the dining room with elegant custom pieces and antiques.
The breakfast room wall mural by Jean Horihata brings in a hint of the outdoors.
The couple's gardens are a constant work in progress. "We make adjustments according to what nature's willing to let us do," says John.
A large tapestry and a four-poster complement the bedroom's lofty dimensions. Settee fabric is from Christopher Hyland.
A cheery bouquet from the garden.
In the master bedroom sitting area, an ornate gilt mirror hangs above the 19th-century French fireplace.
A game table claims a sunlit corner of the library.
Details make the garden.
Tendrils of moss add an air of mystery.
The garden has a romantic look.
The kitchen seems to say "Sit right down."
The architect signed the bottom of the stairs.
Art enlivens a quiet corner.