A pleasant surprise is always welcome, don't you think? That's what I got this past weekend when I bought an old copy of Architectural Digest California Interiors. I've collected most of the AD books (of which Architectural Digest New York Interiors and Architectural Digest Traditional Interiors are my favorites), but for some reason, I always avoided the California book as I thought that it would only feature homes that bore the " California Look". After all, the book was published in 1979, so maybe my assumption could be understood. And truth be told, the heavily publicized California look of the 1970s and 80s is not a favorite of mine. (I know- sacrilege. I'm prepared to take the heat for this.)
But...boy was I wrong. Yes, there is some of that look in the book, but not much. Instead, there are plenty of elegant interiors that one would expect in Los Angeles and especially San Francisco. And even more surprising, some of the interiors don't seem too dated. A few flouncy curtains and oversized upholstered furniture perhaps, but not much. Just take a look:
This has to be my favorite photo in the entire book. The Los Angeles dining room of Jerry Leen, founding partner of Dennis and Leen. How chic, even thirty years later.
I think that I'm taken with this room because it's truly a nighttime room. Those dark brown walls and black blinds are such a rich backdrop for the room's fine furniture and rug. (San Francisco home of Spero Arbes.)
Another nighttime room, this time the Los Angeles dining cum sitting room of designer Helen Partello. The chintz covered walls are unexpectedly topped by a dark, dramatic ceiling. The tablesetting is rather nice as well. (And yes, there is a sofa trimmed in fringe, although it's a little too long for me.)
Okay, I realize that this bed is kind of funky. But, I think that's why I like it. I'm not saying I would have it in my bedroom, but there's something oddly appealing about it. The bedroom of Los Angeles designer J.P. Mathieu.
(All images from Architectural Digest California Interiors; images #1, #2 and #5 by photographer Russell MacMasters; #3 by Tim Street-Porter; #4 by Jerry Bragsted)