Monday, April 27, 2009

At Home with William Powell




One of my favorite actors from the old days is William Powell. He could be suave and debonair, had a way with the witty repartee and the ladies, and displayed a wicked sense of humor, all the while being downright likable. I always thought it would have been fun to play Nora to his Nick Charles. And since he was a star during Hollywood's Golden Era, you wouldn't expect his home to have been anything less than glamorous. His Beverly Hills manse, featured in the February 1936 issue of House & Garden, was designed by architect J.F. Dolena and decorated by that decorator to the stars Billy Haines. Whether Powell played an active role in the design of his home is anybody's guess, but I suppose that doesn't really matter as he at least had the good sense to live in a Dolena house. While the interior looks a little dated, I think the architecture of the home- Regency inspired- was divine and completely befitting a Hollywood star of Powell's caliber.


Powell's terrace with intricate wrought iron detail.


The courtyard with a bay window that was really a two-way bar. How great is that? I also love those metal patio chairs.


The pool house. Fabulous metal canopy above the door.


The recreation room decorated by Haines. The walls were knotty pine, the curtains were blue cashmere, and the fabric on the furniture ranged from blue and white plaid to blue, green, red, and white striped. Hmmm. What I do like, though, is the fireplace to the right with blue and white delft tiles.

(All images from House & Garden, Feb. 1936)

10 comments:

  1. Jennifer, the second image reminds me of the house Mary McDonald used to live in. I guess now it's her guest house. You know, the one that used to be pink?

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  2. Courtney- You know, I bet you're right. I'm going to find the McDonald images and compare. Eagle eye Courtney!!

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  3. I love to see vintage decor, the colors change, but the basics of design are such a building block for new variations, twists & trends.
    Thanks!
    Leslie

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  4. William Haines was one of the most influential designers of the century and thankfully his work continues on. We can learn much from design history. Thanks for sharing this!

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  5. nothing better than a sit down with Nick and Nora- and William Powell is a favorite. Thanks for the great tour. G

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  6. The curtains were blue cashmere. Heaven.

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  7. Jennifer, I included a photo of the exterior of Powell's Dolena house in Regency Redux. Has a very grand facade. Kelly Wearstler now lives there after buying it from Cubby Broccoli (of the James Bond franchise fame). Can not wait to see what she does with it.

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  8. Knotty pine is never going to get my vote, but I'll take the garden furniture.

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  9. Thank you for this wonderful posting! Powell is one of favorite actors -- just think of all those gorgeous settings and scenes in The Thin Man series! Of course my favorite is the bay window with the two-way bar! Brillant!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

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  10. The house was originally built in 1926 as a Spanish style house for silent film actor Hobart Bosworth. William Powell bought the property and had James Dolena resign it (basically bulldosing most of the original) as a Regency style house. Construction took place in 1935 and was completed in 1936. Powell wanted the house to be a home for himself and his fiancee Jean Harlow. Harlow died suddenly (at the age of 26)in 1937 and Powell sold the house shortly thereafter. Kelly Wearstler and her husband bought it in 2007 and has put her personal stamp on it. There are plans for a book, like Domicilium Decoratus, that will show her interiors for the house, as well as the grounds and pool house.

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