Not everyone is lucky enough to have inherited a passel of fine French Empire pieces, a pristine Eames lounge chair, or horde of Ginori plates. The good news? For the rest of us, the look of a collected-over-generations interior is still possible—and shoppable. For proof, look no further than this waterfront family home in Newport Beach, Calif., whose new owners enlisted local designer Casey Hill to revamp it in a highly curated style. “It was very classic—a lot of blue and white—but looked really dated,” Hill recalls of the former interior. “The client wanted it to look like it had patina and had been there for many years, with feminine influences and a mixture of French and Italian antiques that looked passed down from her family.”
To that end, Hill scoured antiques shops all over the country for heirloom-worthy furnishings, from the vintage 1940s French garden table found at San Francisco’s Antique & Art Exchange to the 18th-century crystal chandelier discovered at Jardin de France in Round Top, Texas, and currently glitzing up the dining room. “We really wanted it to feel appropriate for today, and like there’s a young family living there—so I think the juxtaposition of antiques against contemporary art, and the wide range of colors on the walls and cabinetry, feels young and fun.” In the grand entry hall, an oil-on-linen piece by Buenos Aires–born, Los Angeles–based artist Patricia Iglesias dazzles and delights. “I kind of loved that it had this really beautiful, childlike quality to it,” Hill says. “And I think because this space is kind of formal, it needed that young, fun, whimsical feel—otherwise it would’ve just been too precious of a space. No one wants to be in that!”
The entry hall’s hearth was a lucky discovery: “When we were going through the renovation, we uncovered a hidden fireplace that the previous owner had covered up,” says Hill. “So when we found that, we decided to move the front door back to its original location when the house was first designed. Now it’s almost like a proper front parlor from a house designed at the turn of the century.” The designer worked with Concept Studio to create a honed petite granite mantel and surround to further enhance the fireplace—“I knew I wanted to do a dark, beautiful stone,” she says—and added a picture window and paneling.
One particular color—Farrow & Ball’s Pink Ground—takes a star turn on many surfaces throughout the home. An ever-so-slightly muddy peach-pink, it looks a bit like a ballerina’s slippers that have been set out to fade in the sunlight. Hill was careful to install streamlined furniture and art to bring the hue back down to earth a bit: “This house needed to have some pieces that were a little more masculine to offset the femininity of the wall color and the fabrics and prints. It was a balance trying to find pieces that fit the space, but also played off each other from room to room.” Case in point: the living room, where an inky, graphic work by Richard Serra, “Between Torus and the Sphere V,” stands as a sturdy bulwark against a custom skirted sofa in a Carolina Irving print and the gauzy pink walls and ceiling. In the powder room, a hulking travertine marble basin (likely centuries old, and unearthed at Pittet Architecturals in Dallas) is a brawny contrast to dainty Robert Kime fabric walls and a vintage French Louis XVI vanity table with a blowsy skirt.
Little is more delicious in a dining room than sumptuously slipcovered chairs, and the ones Hill designed for this project are true showstoppers. “Before I opened my own studio, I worked for decorator Markham Roberts, and one of my last projects with him was a house in Nantucket where similar chairs were done,” Hill says of the custom seats, in a Décors Barbares fabric. “They were so beautiful because they’re so feminine and also just old fashioned, but yet the pattern and print makes them also young and fun and relevant for today.” The blue bias-striped Howe wallcovering, “a really delicate floral ribbon link that repeats itself over and over,” makes for a fresh backdrop.
Arguably one of the most transportive rooms in the house is the breakfast nook just off the kitchen, where a built-in desk once stood. Hill evicted the work-from-home space and replaced it with a dreamy custom banquette and a table with a scalloped apron. “It overlooks this beautiful courtyard and has great morning light, and so I suggested, ‘What if we ripped out this built-in desk?’” she recalls. “You need some built-ins, but not too many of them.” Playing well against the custom painted table by Hill’s own CH Studio are vintage bentwood chairs from Nickey Kehoe, a painting by Theodora Allen, and galvanized metal outdoor wall sconces. “I love how the wall lanterns make it feel a bit like you’re eating outdoors, but yet you’re still inside,” says Hill. Like the rest of the home, it’s the best of both worlds.