A Return to the Past


Josh Greene reimagines a bland Brentwood home into an eclectic gem

Wallpaper by Nina Freudenberger for Studio Four greets guests in the entry.
Photos by Shade Degges.

New York-based designer Josh Greene, who grew up in California, jumps at the chance to return home for work. Not only because it provides him the space to design on a larger scale and take a break from the constant bustle of Manhattan, but also because it gives him the opportunity to be inspired by an entirely different set of conditions. “In NYC I’m swimming against the current,” he says. “It feels right to work in California as I understand it.”

Pendants from The Urban Electric Co. are suspended over an island covered in Calacatta Viola from Stoneland USA. Photos by Shade Degges.
The kitchen was opened up to create a breakfast nook that overlooks the backyard.
Photos by Shade Degges.

And it’s inside this 4,300-square-foot Brentwood home that he was able to cohesively celebrate a traditional voice of Southern California style—abandoned by the new modernists—by masterfully mixing antiques and contemporary pieces against a sea of earthy hues. “This home defines the new traditional California style,” says Greene.

A custom sofa by Josh Greene Design, covered in fabric by Jane Churchill, rests on a rug from Nickey Kehoe. Photos by Shade Degges.

Previously owned and renovated by a few reality stars, the details and finishes lacked personality and elegance. “We ended up doing more than we planned on,” he notes. They could work with the layout, but he and the clients agreed that the rest had to go. Greene brought in architect David Magid to rethink the master suite, kitchen and ceiling heights throughout. “We vaulted the ceilings and shrunk the guest room to create a more gracious master bathroom and closet suite,” he recalls. They blew out a small room and closet to make way for a playroom for the couple’s three young children. “The thing about this house is, it doesn’t look as big from the outside but it’s an expansive, high-functioning family home,” Greene says.

The powder room is adorned in a wallcovering by Innovations that showcases a pedestal from JF Chen. Photos by Shade Degges.

The clients wanted to preserve the home’s original architectural details (it was built in 1959), defying the current neighborhood trend of building massive glass boxes and farmhouse-style mansions, and continue that direction inside. “I think what is happening on the west side of L.A. is crazy,” he says. “The scale of the new houses being built with one large open great room is so boring. You can’t fit in a beautiful antique demilune set!”

The husband was so pleased with the process he enlisted Greene midway through to redo the kitchen that now echoes the eloquent vibe throughout their forever home. They ripped out the existing finishes, pushed the cabinetry up then shrunk the island, which is now covered in Calacatta Viola marble, to enhance the new dining nook.

The guest bed with a custom canopy is covered in fabric from Jenny Pennywood.
Photos by Shade Degges.

Greene encouraged the clients to start over when it came to their existing furniture and begin building a new collection they could grow with. In the living room a Louis XVI sofa from JF Chen is juxtaposed with a pair of contemporary chairs. Earthy, woven textures like the drapes made of fabric from Zak+Fox and a pair of club chairs covered in Kufri are softened by touches of more traditional antique furniture, lighting and accessories, while more modern pieces and smaller enclaves are wrapped in cooler tones. “The client likes things more traditional but not stuffy,” says Greene. “I wanted the colors throughout to feel as if they had been left out in the sun a bit.”

The lush, organic materials, sun-kissed color palette and fusion of new and old offer a refreshing escape from the surrounding sea of white and glass. Greene’s infusion of personality into each design detail is not just a testament to his expertise but an essence only a true Californian could capture.