2024 Residential Interior Design Award: Michael Hilal


Michael Hilal jokes that he had no business working on the 8,500-square-foot Hillsborough residence that effectively launched his interior design career. “The scope was so large,” he says. “And the project really became on-the-job training for me.”

For the lacquered bar, Hilal chose Farrow & Ball’s Brinjal, Breccia Viola marble, smoked mirrors, an Amuneal brushed brass and glass hanging shelf and custom burl-wood doors.
Photos by Lauren Edith Andersen of SEN Creative.

The homeowners were familiar with his talents through friends for whom he had done a much smaller undertaking: “zhuzhing,” as Hilal describes it—mainly selecting pillows, art and accessories. For the new clients, he continues, “we did the entire house and picked out everything, from finishes to light fixtures … even down to the kitchen towels.”

Hilal outfitted the kitchen nook with a custom walnut table that he designed; stools from his Big Sur collection; a banquette whose back is upholstered in Dedar’s Tiger Mountain fabric; and art by Nancy White, from Romer Young Gallery. Photos by Lauren Edith Andersen of SEN Creative.
The custom fluted white-oak kitchen island—with O&G Studio hardware—is paired with Gubi chairs upholstered in a Kvadrat velvet and illuminated by pendants from Roll & Hill. Photos by Lauren Edith Andersen of SEN Creative.

The extensive transformation got underway in late 2018, when Hilal’s professional ambitions were shifting from the tech industry and he was starting a master’s program in interior architecture. Although he had completed side jobs here and there, he still considered himself an “extreme hobbyist” back then. The four-and-a-half-year effort with Architecture Allure and Innovative Custom Builders changed that.

The dining room includes a table and chairs of Hilal’s own design—both with steel legs—as well as a vintage Verner Panton shell chandelier, antique Chinese sideboard and Apparatus Studio sconces. Photos by Lauren Edith Andersen of SEN Creative.

“I was a sponge with the architect and the builder,” he says. In the place of a dated ranch-style home now sits a contemporary stunner composed of glass, stone and wood. “It is very indoor/outdoor, with massive walls of doors and windows everywhere,” Hilal notes. The stone that is prominent on the exterior also appears on the fireplace in the double-height living room, which previously had a standard eight-foot ceiling.

A reading nook is sheathed in Eskayel’s La Scala wallpaper and fabric, with a vintage Italian chair nearby.
Photos by Lauren Edith Andersen of SEN Creative.
Downstairs, gray abounds—including in a bar area with rift oak cabinetry and Andy Fleishman’s Geode tile from Ann Sacks.
Photos by Lauren Edith Andersen of SEN Creative.

Throughout the dwelling, consistency was a priority for Hilal. White walls and European rift oak floors contribute to a neutral base, upon which he layered color, texture and pattern. In the living room, behind custom burl-wood doors, is a deep maroon bar. Elsewhere, a reading nook beckons with a blue, black and white motif—Eskayel’s La Scala—on the walls, daybed upholstery and decorative pillows.

For a powder room in the main house, Hilal combined a Gio Ponti mirror, peach sconces by Blueprint Lighting, Calico’s Satori wallpaper and a Kast black concrete sink. Photos by Lauren Edith Andersen of SEN Creative.

Since the clients expressed a desire for wallpaper in the primary bedroom, Hilal obliged with Eskayel’s Roman Ram in a gray with gold and rust accents. “She wanted something a little fun, not just painted walls,” he says. Meanwhile, the son’s and daughter’s bedrooms are awash in shades of blue and peach, respectively.

The primary bedroom is appointed with Eskayel’s Roman Ram wallpaper, custom burl-wood nightstands by Hilal, Stone and Sawyer table lamps and a vintage 1970s Ligne Roset sofa in gold velvet. Photos by Lauren Edith Andersen of SEN Creative.

In the pool house bathroom, Hilal opted for hues that “pull from the natural landscape around it,” he explains. “That’s why you see a lot of greens and warmer tones.” For the walls—which, like all of the bathrooms in the home, feature plaster—he chose Color Atelier’s Minted limewash paint.

The primary bathroom’s shower—which Hilal notes is the largest he has done to date—is lined in Clé’s Belgian reproduction terra-cotta circle tile. Photos by Lauren Edith Andersen of SEN Creative.
Hilal selected the Costera resin double-ended matte tub from Vintage Tub & Bath for the primary bathroom, which has pale gray plastered walls. Photos by Lauren Edith Andersen of SEN Creative.

While the clients gave Hilal a lot of leeway, they did request the inclusion of antiques, in the hopes of avoiding an overly modern aesthetic. In the dining room, an early-1900s Chinese sideboard is joined by chairs and a table designed by Hilal as one-offs. “The clients allowed us to prototype some of our furniture pieces with them,” he recalls.

In the son’s bedroom, a series by artist Johnny Abrahams (from Romer Young Gallery) hangs above the custom bed covered in a Kravet fabric— which, along with the walnut desk with painted fronts, was designed by Hilal. Photos by Lauren Edith Andersen of SEN Creative.

That aspect was especially enticing. “The clients were happy to let us experiment with making furniture,” he elaborates. “At that point, I hadn’t conceived that I wanted a furniture collection. But I was thinking, how do I approach this house in a way that it feels custom, that it feels interesting?” He estimates that 70 percent of the furniture in the home was designed by and fabricated for his firm.

The daughter’s bedroom is anchored by a custom bed upholstered in a peach fabric by Kravet with beige piping, which tops a vintage Bangladeshi rug. Photos by Lauren Edith Andersen of SEN Creative.

Shortly after finishing the project, Hilal launched his furniture line, to which he may add the clients’ Perla Venata quartzite-topped dining table, whose legs consist of a series of bronzed steel arches. Stools from his Big Sur collection can be found in the living room and kitchen nook; the former has a walnut version with a Dedar fabric, while the latter seating is composed of bleached and limewashed cherry wood with Nobilis textiles. Also in the kitchen, Hilal devised a custom fluted kitchen island made of white oak. “We wanted it to feel like a separate piece of furniture, but also be consistent with the floor,” he shares.

The pool house bathroom features a Color Atelier limewash paint on the walls, a custom Breccia Viola sink basin, Clé’s Strata Linea stone planks on the floor and RBW sconces.
Photos by Lauren Edith Andersen of SEN Creative.

Not only did this sweeping endeavor mark Hilal’s first project of significance, but it was also the homeowners’ first time working with an interior designer. In this case, with great risk came great reward. “They liked the idea of supporting someone who was emerging,” he says. “The clients took a chance and I think it turned out beautifully.”