In Beverly Hills, designer Kelly Wearstler turns a 1950s Modernist house into a home for her young family and a stage for her elegantly eclectic, genre-crossing style

“Oliver, please put that down—it’s a dried sea urchin,” Kelly Wearstler implores her 3-year- old. At that moment, his younger brother, Elliot, scrambles out of a bedroom closet toting a plaster Rococo bust resembling Madame de Pompadour.No one ever said opulence was easy. Wearstler is as close as the decorating world gets to a Hollywood siren: Angelina Jolie of the fabric and frills set. Certainly the interior designer, who is based in Los Angeles, likes to play the star. In her book Modern Glamour: The Art of Unexpected Style, she poses in couture gowns in interiors filled with chandeliers and zebra rugs.

Wearstler’s home in Beverly Hills is equally va-va-voom, with Moorish chairs covered in garnet silk, antique Khotan rugs—and‚ in one of several ingenious flourishes that Tichenor & Thorp Architects brought to the house a bathroom suite lined in book-matched onyx slabs that took four months to install. But there is humor in her high style. In her own home, Wearstler is well aware that carefully staged surroundings are at the mercy of two toddlers. “They almost never break anything,” she says, California casual in jeans and an orange Ramones T-shirt, as she ducks around a corner in search of runaway Elliot.

Over the past decade, Wearstler has established a reputation for design audacity. She grew up in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a decorator’s daughter, then moved to Hollywood, where she has designed homes for everyone from music and movie studio executives to actor Ben Stiller. But her work with her husband, real estate and hotel entrepreneur Brad Korzen, including hotels like Viceroy in Palm Springs and Maison 140 in Beverly Hills, has most caught the public’s fancy. The color schemes are arresting: she’ll mix red furniture with jet black walls, or jade screens with lemon yellow chairs in swanky driftwood-colored spaces. Even with the porcelain whippets, Chinese dragons, and Aztec motifs she can’t resist, a Wearstler interior feels witty and posh.

Yet Wearstler and Korzen are the kind of parents who make it a point to be home by six. “We eat with the kids every night,” she says. While both sought a home that was livable, Wearstler also wanted a showpiece. The search led to a gem: a hilltop 1950s modernist house built by the late architect Hal Levitt for Spyros Skouras, a studio head at 20th Century Fox, and still owned by his family. “It was untouched, which is rare,” Wearstler says.

The idea of a maximalist like Wearstler living in an austere modernist house might seem antithetical. But while today’s occupants of such homes often approach their surroundings with hushed reverence—furnishing them with a few Barcelona chairs and not much else—these settings were rarely sparse in their Hollywood heyday. They’d be piled high with old-world sofas, rugs, art, and 12-foot-long dining tables. Wearstler noticed that the Skouras house had several 1950s gestures that were a lot like her signature flourishes: pickled sliding screen doors in the dining room, three bronze cranes beside the swimming pool, and a marble wall planter in the dining room that she promptly filled with jade plants. One feature was hidden under the dining room carpet: a floor button for Skouras to silently summon domestic staff. “We don’t live that way,” she says.

Wearstler’s instinct was to dress this glass-and-marble shell to the nines. Scarcely an inch isn’t adorned with malachite boxes, antique Chinese calligraphy brushes, Asian figurines, 1950s art, even a Tony Duquette horse silkscreen from the ‘6os. Wearstler softened the skylighted ceilings with matchstick blinds and planted a tree in the middle of the living room. “I like a warm feeling,” she says. “It took a lot of furniture.” The color scheme‚ salmon, pink, and grape‚ is striking, but softer and subtler than her past choices. In a way, it is a better reflection of her private self which is soft-spoken and quite shy. “There’s so much green outside the windows,” Wearstler says. “These colors look so pretty against the landscape. My taste is evolving. I want to try new things and make it challenging.”

The house, which took two and a half years to renovate and decorate and which she christened the Hillcrest estate, was so entrancing that her publisher, Judith Regan, decided it was worthy of a book. Kelly Wearstler: Domicillium Decoratus has been published in a limited-edition of 3,000 copies, available at Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman stores in a gold-embossed slipcase. Wearstler will unveil the book at BG, the new Bergdorf’s restaurant, which represents her first major design project in New York.

Naturally, this Hollywood story has a surprise twist. No sooner had Wearstler finished Hillcrest than she heard about an even more spectacular property for sale down the road: the estate of the late Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, the producer of most of the James Bond movies. A short while later, the 9,000-square-foot Georgian-style mansion on 3.2 acres was hers. The screening room will become an office for Wearstler’s design firm, KWID.

Now Hillcrest is on the market. “The realtor told me, ‘You’ve got to take some of the furniture out,’” Wearstler laments. “We’ve only used the dining room twice.”