Approachable GlamourAuthor:Abigail Stone
Morgan Newfield of Newfield Design streamlines years of living into a chic Beverly Hills apartment full of sophistication
With floor-to-ceiling windows that frame picture-perfect views of the Hollywood Hills, a 4,000-square-foot condo, located in one of L.A.’s preeminent luxury buildings, demanded an equally breathtaking interior. To shoulder the task, the owners called on interior designer Morgan Newfield of Newfield Design, whom they’d worked with previously. “They were panicked,” Newfield remembers. “They had construction starting immediately and they were under a very tight schedule.” To add to their stress levels, they were downsizing, culling multiple homes down to fit within the location’s comparatively spare acreage. “We cleared out a lot, creating a totally new environment without sacrificing the luxury, comfort and artistic quality of the things they were accustomed to,” she notes.
Newfield’s jumping-off point for her design was the space’s interior architecture. Sleek and modern, it represented a significant departure from any of the styles that the couple had previously enjoyed. “I really feel it’s very important for design to be client-and architecture-driven and then my job, as the designer, is to elevate and educate,” Newfield shares. “I was really blessed that my clients have a terrific eye for artisanal furnishings and wanted their home to be warm and feel collected, not designed.”
Equally important was showcasing the clients’ formidable art collection. “The key is to choose furnishings that compliment the art while still having a comfortable environment for everyday life,” Newfield counsels. That life includes frequent visits from the couple’s young grandchildren. “One of the client’s stipulations was she didn’t want anything that’s so precious that it’s going to get ruined.” Weaving all of these threads together results in a space that, while it displays the elegance of a home that might be found in New York or Paris, perfectly channels the ethos of California’s laid-back approach with durable furnishings that are forgiving and stain resistant. “It’s all about an effortless level of chic that is truly livable,” Newfield points out. “It’s an approachable glamour that’s found in quality craftsmanship, patina and well-thought-out design made for real people.” It’s a perspective with which Newfield, who grew up in L.A. and has lived and worked in New York and Europe, is intimately familiar. “I think that one of the coolest things about California is that anything goes here.”
That doesn’t mean settling; it means thinking outside the box. Any doubts about that are immediately cast aside by the intimate dining nook. It’s anchored by a table whose wide, flared bronze repousse base supports a cream lacquered top created using a technique that dates back to 1600 B.C. “Each layer has to dry completely, so it could take some time depending on the weather,” Newfield explains. “But if anything happens, you can take a magic eraser and buff it out.” It’s paired with seating that includes a custom bench. “We originally had the idea of doing a dining banquette, but we didn’t want to block the window,” Newfield remembers. “We loved these chairs so we tasked the designer, L.A.-based artisan Kimberly Denman, with creating a coordinating bench.” It’s upholstered in a silvery basket-woven faux leather. “It’s gorgeous and textured but you can just wipe it down,” Newfield notes. A faux leather that is completely wipeable covers the elegant counter stools in the open-plan kitchen. “I take a lot of pleasure in finding gorgeous things that the client doesn’t have to worry about,” Newfield shares.
Color, pattern and shape wrap the home into a harmonious whole. The warmth of Farrow & Ball’s Dead Salmon, with which Newfield washed the kitchen’s woodwork, is echoed in the living room on the opposite side of the great room. That includes the cerused oak accents of the armchairs, the caramel tones of the Brazilian lacewood sideboard, the deep eggplant lacquered coffee table and a cranberry fabric that wraps a pair of mushroom-shaped ottomans. Newfield repeats those same ottomans, now wrapped in a rich wool, in the central space, clustering them around a circular table by Faye Toogood. That subtle sense of reverberation extends beyond the great room: in the way the wallpaper in the library amplifies the design of the one used in the powder room; in how the central space’s warm palette and sensual curves suffuse the primary bedroom, from its rich wood built-in to its voluptuous bed; and even in the undulations and hue of the charcoal-colored stool in the primary bath.
Yet, apart from its livability, it’s the home’s levity that makes it sing. Note the vintage John Risley bent-wire bench, poised just inside the entryway, the small sculptural table in the hallway with its bowlegged stance, the powder room’s insouciant pleated skirt and its funhouse Gio Ponti mirror or the cheekiness of the Picasso pitcher in the kitchen. “It was challenging but it was a lot of fun,” says Newfield. “We had fun.”