I’m about to let you in on one of Hollywood’s best kept secrets: nestled in the hills right above Hollywood Boulevard sits a 47-acre park, anchored by a historic Hollywood mansion built in 1907. The Wattles Mansion, Park and Gardens are now owned by the City of Los Angeles and open to the public, under the management of the Department of Recreation and Parks. While you can stroll through this glamorous estate almost any old time, you really should run up there before April 17th, because some of the area’s hottest designers have recently given the old girl a facelift, and their work is on display at the Wattles Mansion Showcase House, themed “Hollywood, the First Hundred Years.”
The DRP, plus design company Reitzhaus and Angeleno Magazine have come together to stage a design house extraordinaire in this historic Hollywood mansion, allowing designers to select a room and decorate it with a glamorous show biz theme. Rooms were inspired by icons such as Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlow, Clark Gable, Sophia Lauren, Audrey Hepburn Elizabeth Taylor and Brigitte Bardot, plus films like The Birds, The Women, Dinner at Eight, Auntie Mame, The Artist and Midnight in Paris.
Of all the elegantly designed rooms, wouldn’t you know that the Ladies Lounge, archly designed by Eleanor Schrader and Ian Noonan, was among my favorites? Done in a cool and soothing shade called Blue Meets Green, with accents of “silver warmed up with gold,” they made the sink into a well-stocked bar, perfect for accommodating those waiting to use the facilities.
The inspiration was the terrific classic, The Women, of course, and behind the locked door of the water closet, they had a recording of Rosalind Russell from the film, trying to get out of the coat closet. I love touches like that!
The living room, although not spacious, was quite striking, done by designer Fernando Diaz, and inspired by Brigitte Bardot. And nice touch by the Christopher Guy Showroom, to contribute a sofa known as “The Bardot.”
“The Staff Bedroom,” designed by Laura Clayton Baker and Annica Howard, was quite clever, inspired by the Alfred Hitchcock classic, The Birds. It had subtle cast iron birds perched throughout, and other avians alight on the wall paper, but it was cheeky, rather than overwhelming.
And I adored this custom designed desk, making an attractive work station out of a small corner.
The Leonardo DiCaprio inspired dining room, by designer Sandra Costa, was not what you’d call subtle, but this wildly creative designer often goes for a bold statement, designing parties in the Playboy Mansion for the likes of Richard Branson. When you want an event or a room that leaves a lasting impression and incorporates up to the minute tech, the colorful Costa is the designer to call.
The library in this historic Hollywood mansion opened up a whole new world to me. It was designed by Sheryl Fleischer and Firoozah Khorrami and inspired by Marlene Dietrich, going by her famous quote, “Glamour is what I sell, it’s my stock and trade.”
When I asked about the authentic Victrola, they introduced me to the wonderful world of Faux Library Studio Props in North Hollywood, which I immediately became enamored of, and will surely feature some time in the not too distant future. Not only do they supply swanky library furniture to studios and production companies, but the books as well. Seems they have hundreds of collections of books from every period and on every subject. Must. Visit. Soon.
Not wanting to give too much away, I’ll leave you with just one more of my favorite rooms — the Jean Harlow-inspired sitting room/dressing room adjacent to the master bedroom, by designer Susan Sager.
I fell in love with the old Hollywood glamor, and the new touches that Sager said she hoped someone like Gwen Stefani (and I) would appreciate. Those violet velvet curtains, Sherwin Williams “Swanky Gray” paint, the glittery pillows and throw, the fuzzy chairs and the modern area rug made me want to sit right down and swill champagne.
Now I have dozens of additional photos, thanks to the lovely and talented Vanessa Martin Guidon, but I don’t want to spoil all the fun. You really need to run up there and see this gorgeous home for yourself. It’s such a uniquely Hollywood experience, swanning about the gardens and perusing the rooms inspired by these stellar icons.
Tickets are $40 per person, and benefit the Department of Recreation and Parks for restoration of the seven historic properties they oversee; Homes For Heroes, a charity that works toward housing homeless veterans; and The American Society of Interior Designers Foundation, to further education and research grants. On select days, you can purchase food from the Cousin’s Maine Lobster truck and other trucks including Crepe N Around, Pinch of Flavor and Greenz On Wheelz.
What better way to spend an afternoon during this extraordinary weather we’ve been having? See you up there soon!
Hidden, Historic Hollywood Mansion Gets a Facelift — Come and See!
Photos by Vanessa Martin Guidon