Orli Ben-Dor: This has got to be one of the most charming houses in all of Los Angeles.
Panitch: It is the most beautiful, perfect little jewel in the Pacific Palisades, where, sadly, too many people are tearing older homes down and replacing them with mansions. What’s crazy is that I decorated this house for the previous owners. When they were ready to move, I introduced them to my clients of 20 years — and longtime friends — Pam and Chris Fillo, who bought it. I guess I felt protective of this sweet house.
What was it like to redecorate the same space for different clients?
This time, we changed enough of the house architecturally on the inside to make it feel unique. The couple’s kids are grown, so a family room and playroom weren’t necessary, and the plan is that they are going to stay here forever. She is a huge cook and wanted us to focus on the kitchen remodel. We also bumped out some closets and increased the amount of natural light in the home by adding some windows. To me, design starts with the person. Pam is wild for pattern and color, and that really drove everything. My sole directive was, “Go for it!”
You went for it all right! That head-to-toe paisley room is a stunner. Is that all fabric?
Yes, every square inch of it. Pam and Chris had an upholstered room in their previous home and wanted another one. This space had its challenges: It’s a small, square guest room just off the pool, and it could easily have felt cold and unappealing. I knew that the best way to warm it up was to put fabric on the walls, the ceiling ... everywhere! Sticking to one fabric — even for the bedding — creates a serene environment, much more so than mixing it up. This printed linen was the first and only option we considered.
That’s confidence! How did you know it was going to work?
Color choice is the most important element whenever you’re doing a full-on upholstered room. You want a soft palette that has very little contrast. Even the most intricate pattern can work within those guidelines. If this same fabric were in black and white, the experience would be overwhelming in such a small space. The colors here are subtle, with a lovely Indian paisley motif.
I spy pink curtains in not one, but two rooms in this house. How do you incorporate sweeter hues — pinks, purples — and still exude that California cool?
I stay in the world of what I call neutral colors. So while I might use a color like pink, I will search for a soft, grayed-out version, or pair it with a vintage leather chair, so that the overall look ends up feeling neutral. A sofa’s fabric might be purple, but it will have an oatmeal thread running through its herringbone weave, so it reads tailored and not dollhouse. I also like to mix up textures. In the living room, which has a bit of an odd shape, I kept things clean and simple with a modern metal-and-glass coffee table. And since it’s easy to get natural-fiber rugs in large, uncommon sizes, I went with a jute rug.
Meanwhile, I notice there’s no rug at all in the dining room. Was that a conscious choice?
Yes, it was. You might say I am anti-rug in dining rooms! I would rather spend money on the rugs you actually walk on, rather than ones that are covered up by a table. Plus, rugs can get dirty quickly in a dining area, and when you go for too many layers, you often end up with an overly stuffy feeling. Interior design can get extravagant. My attitude is: What exactly do we need, and how can we make it great?
How else do you keep things practical but pretty?
I like to use smaller patterns for dining chairs; they’re great for hiding the inevitable spills. I also like a simply dressed bed. There’s nothing worse than piles of pillows — some beds have so many that you have to buy a chair just to put the pillows on when you go to sleep! To create a sense of ease at home, surround yourself with what you love. I always ask my clients: “Where is your heart?”
“It goes against Decorating 101, but using small patterns together can be easier on the eye — more quiet,” Panitch says. “The secret is to get the right marriage. I make sure to keep the color values close, then combine the style periods. The contemporary kaleidoscopic wallpaper here is paired with an Indian flower motif on the chairs. A layered room with all of the elements coming from one era might have felt heavy and old-world, but mixing it up elevates the cool factor of each print — the wallpaper looks artistic, while the Indian design feels original when taken out of its traditional box.”
See more photos of this gorgeous home:
Shop the Look:
- 1515-2 Blush Navy wallpaper, .
- Killi linen in Duck Egg Natural, .
- Gastón y Daniela Nicaragua linen in Lavanda, .
- Sloane Velvet Border in Fawn, .
This story originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of CQ.