Hollywood cinema enjoyed a golden age between approximately 1920 and 1960, represented by classics like The Wizard of Oz, Some Like it Hot and Singing in the Rain. As the stars dazzled audiences with their talent and charisma on-screen, their lives off-screen were typified by a glamorous lifestyle set in sprawling mansions and estates. Their palatial homes were lavishly decorated to the hilt. Most notable of these is Pickfair, the luxurious home of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, with English Regency interiors and a pool large enough for canoeing. By virtue of its grandeur, this era of Hollywood spawned a style of interior decor that is aptly named Hollywood Regency.
What is the Hollywood Regency style?
In the realm of interior design, the Hollywood Regency style spells luxury and is reminiscent of the era, but it is grounded in comfort and practicality. It is characterized by high-contrast combinations of texture, pattern, color and form. But clean, sleek and contemporary lines anchor the glamour of the over the top accents. It is a balanced blend of the uncluttered look of Mid-Century Modern and the outrageousness of Art Deco. The decor exudes whimsy and drama mixed with opulence and is filled with sparkle, shine and hits of bold hues. The main elements that decorate the space offer a soothing neutral palette for pops of unexpected color and form. Although it is representative of old Hollywood, it does not spell vintage or retro but is timeless and classic.
Hollywood set designers of the golden age specifically constructed sets for the silver screen. They needed to have a well-defined form interspersed with dramatic elements that would stand out on screen. A perfect example would be the rich elegance of the sets in the movie, Gone with the Wind. Hollywood Regency was born from this concept and mainly owes its legacy to the interior designers of Dorothy Draper and Billy Haines.
Its typical features are lustrous metal, bold patterns and plush fabrication. Commonly used materials are lacquer, high-gloss paint, sparkling crystal, mirror and glass. Metallics that characterize the style are brass, dull gold and high-shine steel. Patterned marble is used for dramatic effect and so are indulgent fabrics like silk, fur and velvet.
Dark, sensual colors are used to create a plush feel. Light and airy colors are generally used only to provide a neutral palette to the rich pops of color.
Typical accents that are used are opulent chandeliers, sunburst mirrors, multi-patterned upholstery.
Designing a Hollywood Regency kitchen
You can create a luxurious and deeply comfortable space in your home with this style. Applying the style to a functional space like a kitchen may be a little challenging. In a kitchen, function takes precedence over form. Most of the space is occupied by appliances and practical everyday items and there is limited scope for decorative elements. With these tips, however, you can bring a touch of glamour into the kitchen while still retaining its practicality.
A Bold Splash of Glamour
A bold splash of glamour can be brought in by a dramatically patterned marble waterfall design for the central island. The design could create a sharp contrast with pale unpatterned countertops. If the countertops and cabinets remain plain, the pattern can be reflected in the backsplash as well. You can paint the other two walls of the island a rich jewel tone to complement the grey or tan tone of the marble slab. You could also use a curved slab of polished wood instead of a marble top, to add a surprising element that stands out.
A Crystal Chandelier
A crystal chandelier might sound incongruous in a kitchen but can work very well in a Hollywood Regency kitchen. It is an accent that stays out of the way and yet creates visual interest. A series of pendant lights made from brass, sculpted glass or carved metals overhanging the island can also add a distinct touch of glamour.
Bar Stools and Islands
Bar stools at the counter or island are visible features and offer the perfect canvas for experimentation. They can be upholstered and accented to add a touch of luxury. Use jewel tones like rich emerald or deep magenta. Plump them up with tufted cushioning. Velvet fabric has a shine that creates a glamorous look. Stools with whimsical designs like scrolled legs or burnished steel and brass legs or accents will also create the look that you desire.
The backsplash also gives you an opportunity for expression. You can design a dramatic backsplash to contrast with neutral countertops. An example is a dark and neutral color like auburn or burnt sienna, with a brick pattern defined by gold grouting.
Reflective surfaces are a feature of the style, so you can use shiny pieces of mosaic in a jigsaw pattern. You can even bring marble or quartzite onto the backsplash to reflect the medium of the island or floors.
You could create an accent wall will a lavish print that will contrast with the color of your cabinets and countertops. It can be a filigree or paisley pattern to contrast with the geometric form of the rest of the kitchen. You could use these patterns for the window treatments as well.
The floor is a key component in setting the theme for the kitchen. Patterned marble is a great representation of the style. Mosaic with a Greek key pattern or any geometric pattern will also do the trick. You can use a two- or three-toned pattern with colors that reflect your cabinetry, countertops or drapery.
Cabinet handles and drawer pulls
They may sound like minor touches, but hardware like cabinet handles and drawer pulls significantly contribute to the overall look of the kitchen. Use brass or burnished steel in contemporary designs like a t-bar to carry on the clean lines of the cabinetry. Or you could use ornate and baroque carved designs to complement the geometry. You can use cut glass knobs that catch the light and brighten the dark background of rich-hued cabinet doors. A simple touch like adding gold handles and pulls can achieve the look.
The Range Hood
One of the most visible kitchen elements is the range hood. Although this may not be as simple to experiment with, you could consider covering it in front with a panel with a bold pattern or reflective glass. If your decorator can furnish it, you could add a whimsical pattern, design or painting of your choice. Or you could simply use paint and trim to achieve the look inexpensively. A black hood with gold trim is a good example.
A breakfast nook
If your kitchen has a breakfast nook with a window seat, use it to create the theme. Use draperies, upholstery and cushions of Hollywood Regency colors and textures. Add a touch of silk or fur for that touch of splendor. Contrast the colors for a pleasing aesthetic. Deep navy blue and rich mustard create a pleasing contrast and are classic Hollywood Regency hues that go very well together.
Can you bring a touch of sensuality into a practical space like a kitchen? You can, by using rich, dark and sensual hues for the cabinetry. You could use a rich jewel tone with gold trim. You can use two-toned cabinets for dramatic contrast. Coupled with warm, under-the-cabinet lighting to further enhance the dark and brooding atmosphere, you can create a cozy and intimate look for those after-dinner drinks. Adding reflective surfaces like brass-bordered glass panels to your cabinet doors can be a stylish touch.
Make use of free space. Examples are a nook-countertop and a wall that is not occupied by a cabinet. Hang a sunburst or accented mirror on the wall or place an Art Deco sculpture or lamp on the empty counter.
In Hollywood Regency, there are no rules regarding decor from a particular era. You can decorate the space with little flavors of ornamentation from different eras and geographic regions. It is not uncommon to place an ornate, sculpted deity from India on a grey, patterned marble mantel, next to three velour-bound volumes of Shakespeare’s plays that are held closed with brass clasps.