A quintessentially Southern California manse is artistically reimagined for the director of the J. Paul Getty Museum

A Neo-Mediterranean home in Santa Monica, California, was custom renovated for Dr.Michael Brand, the former director of the illustrious J. Paul Getty Museum. He and his wife are avid art collectors and jet-set travelers. The Brands asked Los Angeles-based Tichenor & Thorp Architects to renovate the house, add features to suit the couple’s extensive collections, and create a space for grand gatherings of Getty Museum patrons and internationally renowned artists.The living room presented a special challenge to the designers since the couple brought with them a variety of “must-use” pieces, such as the American Chippendale black and white sofas that were given to them by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts where Dr. Brand was the previous director. Other pieces the designers needed to consider were the Noguchi table and Josef Hoffmann chairs, both from the Gettys’ own collection. The chairs were reupholstered to fit the Spanish-style theme.

How did the designers combine such lively colors and patterns so successfully? By following a few simple rules. “First,” they began, “decide which are the key pieces for the room. Those will underpin the rest of your choices. Keeping the color palette limited, tie other elements into the room by using the key piece’s ‘base’ colors.”

Here, the sofas held the key to what the rest of the room was going to look like. Black, white, and cream were repeated around the space, which allowed the designers to vary patterns but keep the look cohesive. Note the black edging on the carpet, in the Noguchi table base, and in the edging on the Andalusian tile on the fireplace.

Now the groundwork was laid for adding even more patterns and variety, but the designers were careful not to select patterns that are all the same scale. “Think of different-sized patterns like punctuation,” they suggested. The small repeating details in the mirror provide welcome contrast to the large chevron stripes in the chairs, and both vary enough from the pattern in the sofas to avoid being overwhelming.

If you’re still stuck with too many choices and needing guidance, “work the patterns around a narrative.” This room reflects the travels of this family: ethnic geometrics interspersed with botanicals.

Finally, accent colors finish the space and add dimension. “Reds, pinks, and other warm tones were added here to complement the black, white, and cream,” said the designers.

A similar set of guidelines turned a once-tired breakfast nook into an cozy place to talk or read. The space is now an inspiring, lived-in showcase for books, artifacts, and a round table from J. Paul Getty’s personal collection. Built-in seating was added with drawers beneath. Delia shades—solar shades with stenciled patterns—subdue the intense California sunlight and bring in another layer of exotic texture and pattern. Finally, pops of pink silk upholstery offset the blues and greens of a Moroccan lantern.

All throughout the home, Tichenor & Thorp created new niches and designed spaces around Dr. Brand’s art
and books. The result is a work of art unto itself.