Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

Hollywood Regency 101


Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
35 Comments » | Published in Decorating Modern, Design Books, Design Magazines, Design on the Web, Design Press, In the Press, Other Blogs  |  35 Comments

via ApartmentTherapy

Let me just say this is the never ending post. I tried to keep it simple but it got away from me. If I don’t simply press “publish,” I’ll never finish it, so I’m just going to do it. Anyway, Hollywood Regency, I don’t quite know how to define it, but I know it when I see it…

About 12 years ago I had the privilege of staying at a Hollywood Director/Vogue photographer’s Alexander house in Palm Springs (my friend’s little brother was his personal assistant at the time). I was still deep into a Shabby Chic phase of decorating, and hadn’t yet attended architecture school. I wasn’t ready for his modern Hollywood Regency style, I didn’t know what a Saarinen tulip table was, I didn’t understand all the shiny surfaces and basket chairs hanging from the trees, but I knew I liked it. This was my intro to Hollywood Regency glam. Now I FANTISIZE about that glamorous modern space.

via Nate Berkus

“Glam it Up” is a buzz phrase I keep hearing over and over. It’s starting to get on my nerves, the same way “zen,” “bring the outdoors in” and “make it pop” sound like such cliches. I guess it’s because people often use the buzz phrases incorrectly to justify some really lame design moves, like that “Glamalicious” nightmare contestant on “Design Star,” or maybe it’s just because I’m grouchy.

It seems that every few years the trend switches from grunge to glam – whether it’s from strict Victorian rules to the freedom of flappers in the roaring ’20’s to the grungy Great Depression, from patcholi hippie style to ’80’s Reagan red and Trump’s King Midas amounts of gold, from the Seattle flannel invasion and heroin chic to Courtney Love getting a Hollywood stylist for her Oscar nomination (not that Galliano gown with real trash stuck to it, but rather the glamourous perfect People Vs. Larry Flynt Courtney!), we’re always seesawing from grunge to glam to grunge. My theory is that the influx of glamour right now it’s a bit of backlash against minimalism by those of us who love to insert our sense of humors into our style at home. Cluttering up the barest minimal – it’s like attacking a severly simple Calvin Klein outfit with a Bedazzler filled with Swarovski crystals.

The glamourous style revived and interpreted by designers like Kelly Wearstler has a few monikers – Modern Glamour, Anti-Depressive Living, and Hollywood Regency. Ian Schrager calls his own style “rock and roll baroque.” Ian turns the style up to eleven:

via Gramercy  Park Hotel

It’s really funny to watch what happens in the eBay keyword world when a phenomenon with buzzwords happens. For example, any piece of junk someone thinks is 50 years old suddenly dons the keyword “Eames Era.” Good luck searching for anything that is actually Eames.* Right now, “Hollywood Regency” is still searchable and mostly on point. My last search came up with just 6 pages of listings of glamorous Asian pieces, lovely ceramic lamps, Foo dogs, and gold and wire C-Jere-esque sculptures. I’m sure in a few months it will return about 50 pages of listings.

One blogger I admire who often reports on this trend is dear ada – she is an expert on the style and has quite a few great blog posts about it here. Especially THIS ONE. Some other bloggers who write beautifully about this style and share great examples of it include Anna Spiro at absolutely beautiful things in Australia, Turquoise, Style Court and The Peak of Chic in the States. These bloggers are a lot more eloquent than I am, so I suggest checking them out STAT.

via Jonathan Adler

What is Hollywood Regency? What makes up this style? As it turns out, to master the style one must be a master of the mix. The look is clean – extra tchotckes have a purpose and stand out – they don’t collect dust as a bunch of tacky clutter. Influences are Asian, Moroccan, European Art Deco, Chippendale, Dorothy Draper, David Hicks, Billy Baldwin, Billy Haines, the Rat Pack, a bit of traditional and a dash of hippie chic.

via Kelly Wearstler

I love the way author Susan Kandel describes the style as it relates to Hollywood:

In a town renowned for plastic surgery, Hollywood Regency may be the consummate architectural style. You’ve got an aging stucco bungalow. But what you really want is something sexier, younger, classier. So you tack on a mansard roof, an oversized front door framed by black-and-white striped drapes, maybe a niche with a Greek urn in it ontop, and yes, the mail man might mistake you for Gina Lollabrigida.

Of course I also had to go to Jonathan Adler for some words of wisdom:

I define Hollywood Regency as Neo-classical lines mixed with Hollywood glamour and a top note of mod moxie. Hollywood Regency was a style of architecture and decoration popular in the 60s in LA that was a revival of classical regency style through a modern lens. Hollywood Regency added a layer of pattern and decoration and opulence and glamour to the minimalism of mid-century modernism.

via Jonathan Adler

I think that the current rage for Hollywood Regency is a reaction to the Christian Liaigre-ish minimalism that has been pervasive for the last several years. Design was starting to look a bit dour and grey and joyless and I think people had simply had enough. So, Hollywood Regency has become a catch-all name to describe design that thumbs its nose at minimalism in favor of classical references and lots of decoration. As for the mirrors and bamboo and Asiana and chrome, those are all design elements that figured into Hollywood Regency style the first time around and I think they’re back because they’re decorative and glamorous.

“Mod moxie” – that’s the dash of tacky Diana Vreeland likens to paprika. When you’ve got the right recipe, it’s the best part of the space. For example – remember when contestants on Wheel of Fortune used to shop for their prizes, and they would have only enough money left to buy that big ceramic dog? That big old game show prize works in Hollywood Regency style just as well as a Jeff Koons dog does.

Here’s a laundry list of how to get to know and love Hollywood Regency:

Inspirational Spaces…

Clockwise from top left: Ian Schraeger‘s Gramercy Park Hotel, Kelly Wearstler’s The Viceroy in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills Hotel, Billy Baldwin (via The Peak of Chic), via DominoMag, Jonathan Adler’s Parker Palm Springs.

Hollywood Regency is definitely a feeling when there is just the right mix of items. There are no definite rules. I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.

Some ingredients (furniture, books, resources, words, places, movies, etc.) in the Hollywood Regency Recipe:

  • Lacquered Furniture
  • Lucite Tables and Chairs
  • Mirrored Furniture and Mirrors in General – Annette Bening and Alec Baldwin’s home in Running with Scissors (can anyone find good images of this online? I’ve been completely unsuccessful! BTW, if you haven’t rented this movie, DON’T! It’s AWFUL!) is a great space to look at for inspiration.
  • Fabulous and Bold Wallpaper
  • Chinoseirie
  • Dressing Table
  • Asian Touches
  • Swank
  • A Dash of The Rat Pack or
  • a Dash of Vegas or
  • a Dash of Austin Powers Shagadelic Style
  • A Touch of Kate Spade Decorating Style or
  • A Touch of Lilly Pulitzer Style interpreted as a bit of prep, like Adler does frequently.
  • psmodern way
  • Tonic home
  • Pieces
  • Palm Beach
  • Chrome
  • Matte and Shine
  • Chintz
  • Bold Shape and Color
  • “rock-n-roll baroque”
  • The fictional Mrs. Parker of the Parker Palm Springs (make up your own client like this – it really helps inspire)
  • This LA Times article
  • Stephen Gambrel
  • Beverly Hills Hotel Fountain Coffee Room

A few inspiring books, in no particular order:

Finally, there is a Hollywood Regency flickr group

Alright, finally, here’s an exercise we’ll call “what makes it regency?” with this Adler dining room. It’s kind of fun, or maybe I’m just fried from typing so much. I’m so over my limit…

And if you stuck around long enough to read the longest post ever written, you might want to check out Hollywood Regency 102 and Hollywood Regency 103.

About Becky:
Hi, I'm Becky. I live in Atlanta. Besides acting as the Editorial Director here on Hatch, you can find me talking design over at Houzz. Make me happy — leave a comment!

About Becky

has written 1620 post in this blog.

Hi, I'm Becky. I live in Atlanta. Besides acting as the Editorial Director here on Hatch, you can find me talking design over at Houzz. Make me happy — leave a comment!



  1. midcenturyjo says:

    April 4th, 2007 at 12:32 pm (#)

    Ah another convert to the dark side. As a reformed minimalist, Hollywood Regency allows me to keep my mid century design classic and mix it with that blanc de chine Quan Yin lamp no one wanted at the estate sale. Fun, frivolous, flirty and frou frou it warms my soul in a way that hard edged restrained minimalism never could. Great post Becky!

  2. Becky says:

    April 4th, 2007 at 2:09 pm (#)

    Thanks Jo! I too, am so glad to be letting my frou frou out!!


  3. susan says:

    April 8th, 2007 at 4:52 pm (#)

    Great article! I’ve always been a mid-century fan but 2 years ago I went to Hong Kong and discovered foo dogs, but the ones I saw were expensive so I came home and found one on Ebay for $12 (my first E-bay purchase). I became so obsessed by it (it’s just like the ones in the Domino pic) that I bought 2 more to go in my bright orange guest room. I love that the style has got elements that are just slightly tacky – gives a room a sense of humor. I couldn’t do it full-on, especially since I just bought a loft-like condo, but I think my foo dogs will look very fun in a clean gallery-like atmosphere.

  4. Becky says:

    April 9th, 2007 at 7:09 am (#)

    Hey Susan!

    I’ve been seeing the turquoise foos everywhere, I think they are SUCH a gorgeous color and a nice size as well. I love a little bit of humor in every room, whether it’s in your face in some and more subtle in others!

    Thanks for reading!


  5. Nick says:

    April 17th, 2007 at 12:11 pm (#)

    Great text and images, Becky! So glad you wrote this. I had noticed in recent weeks an explosion of ‘Hollywood Regency’ as a keyword on eBay, and I agree that the items being sold are for the most part spot-on, especially the high end ones. I always dubbed this ‘Simon Doonan style’, after the window-dresser-turned-vice-president of Barneys New York, whose apartment has always had these touches, the mixes you mention that keep a space lightly humorous and not so ponderous. His window designs also often have this mix. Check out Diane Keaton’s book Still Life from the mid-1980s, with lots of still photos from Hollywood sets of the 1960’s for similar inspiration, and the coffeetable book Baroque Baroque from about 1992. You mention the ricochet back and forth between glam and grunge – in art history, this has been the norm for teaching Western art produced from 1400 on, namely between bouncing between classicism and the baroque. But I think Hollywood Regency is something else: when things get seriously mixed as you describe, they verge on eclecticism a la the Victorian period, or the first wave of postmodernism circa 1980. I think interior decorating is the ultimate postmodern activity or art form, when we just know too damn much about past styles but want to ‘make do’ with what’s at hand. To me the strict followers of mid-century modern style are just classicists in new garb. My latest foray into glamming up my place is with oddly shaped red Burmese lacquerware – gotta love the new orange/red wave that’s upon us! – Nick

  6. Becky says:

    April 19th, 2007 at 10:47 am (#)

    Hi Nick! WOW, thanks for all of the info and great opinions! I will be sure to check out the books. I am a huge Simon Doonan fan (I’ve reviewed his Confessions of a Window Dresser here in the past and I just suggested that he should get his hilarious self onto the Top Design show – I just adore him). Have you seen the enormous foo dogs he and Jonathan have on their balcony in NYC? So funny!


  7. Laura says:

    June 4th, 2007 at 6:47 am (#)

    I love this blog!!!! Just got back to London today after a trip to LA and Palm Springs, treasure hunting! Just putting together my piece for my mag today! thanks for the help that your blog has given me- Nick was pretty helpful too!!!!!
    Keep posting these golden nuggets of info.

  8. Becky says:

    June 4th, 2007 at 1:01 pm (#)

    Hi Laura! Thanks so much! Are there any links to your pieces? I’d love to see them!


  9. tighty says:

    June 11th, 2007 at 8:11 pm (#)

    hi-i cant speak…so impressive…stunning!!thanks…xxx(kisses)

  10. Becky says:

    June 12th, 2007 at 2:01 pm (#)

    thanks tighty! these images definitely make me want to clean up my funky quirky style and become a bit more refined!


  11. Anna says:

    June 15th, 2007 at 3:57 am (#)

    Oh, thanks for the kind mention here!

  12. Becky says:

    September 6th, 2007 at 11:21 pm (#)

    Anna, you are my personal design rock star. I check out Absolutley Beautiful Things for inspiration in my home/daydreams of owning a shop on a daily basis!

    Nick, you are an eloquent genius – do you have a blog or website? I’d love to a) read it b) plug it shamelessly! You are so on-point!


  13. ez says:

    October 12th, 2007 at 1:32 am (#)

    you are the coolest!!!

  14. Chris says:

    November 16th, 2007 at 9:53 am (#)

    Hi, Terrific explanation of this fun new swing back to glam. I am so sick of plastic furniture and razor sharp (and equally comfortable) sofas. This whole Regency thing is fun- and I’m really enjoying it’s dark stepchild- the victorian-mad scientist-taxidermy-accessory explorations I’m seeing in places- It provides a humorous edge to the very grown-up glam so that I dont feel like I’m living in a somebodys rich grandmothers home that she hasn’t redocorated in 55 years. Great website- Cheers and keep it up!!

  15. Naledi says:

    December 19th, 2007 at 1:27 pm (#)

    Finally! A name for the design aesthetic I had been simply calling mid-century modern for lack of better term. Although I do love mid-century modern, I prefer the exuberance of hollywood regency. After collecting clippings from various magazines, your blog was the eureka to my design quest. Thanks for putting together such a valuable resource!

  16. Clarissa says:

    January 13th, 2008 at 7:45 am (#)

    Oh my goodness this was so helpful! My boyfriend and I just inherited a house in the hills of San Francisco and as hip 20somethings, we have our own ideas of minimalistic class and modern sensibilities, while his grandparents (who the house originally belonged to) had theirs. It has a mansard roof, all of the original moulding and ironwork in tact, and is jam packed with tacky early to mid century antiques (lots of asian crap too) I was at a loss as to what to do with the space, but knowing that it now lends itself to be the perfect candidate for Hollywood regency, I think I have a plan! Thanks!

  17. Lulu says:

    January 15th, 2008 at 9:23 pm (#)

    Thanks so much for this post. I too love the look, but could not put the feeling in words you did so beautifully.

    The look is portrayed I feel in the upcoming movie Mrs. Pettigrew lives for a day. I’ve been shamelessly playing the trailer over and over.

    Also, visit a Ted Baker boutique…

    I’ll be checking for more posts! Thanks again…

  18. Jen says:

    March 28th, 2008 at 2:10 pm (#)

    Hi Becky,

    I am still relatively new to design, and especially inexperienced at being able to name a style. I have such a hard time describing my taste, and would always say that I like when a room has an eclectic mix of modern and antique. I hadn’t found exactly what I was looking for until I started seeing more of it in Domino like you mentioned. You named the style and gave a beautiful description of the exact approach i have been looking for in design. What I love most about Hollywood Regency is that it empowers the designer and client to embrace what they love in an anything goes kind of attitude. Hollywood Regency can be as sparse or cozy as you want it. It can handle the bold colors and the sleek lines of modern design while keeping a feminine and sophisticated feel.

    Thanks and I look forward to reading more of your blog!

  19. Becky says:

    March 29th, 2008 at 8:38 am (#)

    Hey Everyone, thanks so much for all the comments – I think this post set a record for us at Hatch as we don’t tend to get a lot of comments! I hadn’t checked back in awhile because I wrote this post so long ago, but it seems to be getting new links all over the place. Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to leave all of you wonderful comments!


  20. dai says:

    April 21st, 2008 at 12:30 pm (#)

    Thanks for the great post!! I’ve joined the Flickr group.:)

  21. Becky says:

    April 21st, 2008 at 1:03 pm (#)

    Thanks Dai! I’ve added you to our blogroll.


  22. Pam says:

    June 30th, 2008 at 6:47 pm (#)

    I love this Hollywood Regency look. The small touches of mirrored furniture here and there add a touch of glam but not too much. I found a great place on the web to buy mirrored furniture at reasonable prices. It’s called Glam Furniture. http://glamfurniture.com

    Love your blog!

  23. Amy says:

    July 30th, 2008 at 9:08 am (#)

    Great Post! Thanks for the pics and helpful tips. I am inspired to see what I can do as I love the feeling this style creates in a space.

  24. Dagny says:

    November 26th, 2008 at 10:57 am (#)

    I love this post! Thank you so much 🙂

  25. Royaltygirl says:

    February 19th, 2009 at 10:01 am (#)

    This post was instrumental in forming my current decorating style! I have always liked traditional interiors, but I really have a taste for some glam. This style combines the two with a dash of modern. I have an all white color pallet with some black accents. I throw some shiny gold, silver and lots of mirrors in to the mix and volia!

  26. d'nise harrison says:

    February 19th, 2009 at 1:29 pm (#)

    oh the joy, oh the bliss, oh tackacious fabulosity!!!! someone please tell me the name of those white high-back chairs on the flokati rug in blue, white & chocolate jonathan adler room. i gotta have ’em.

  27. Becky says:

    February 19th, 2009 at 1:56 pm (#)

    Hi Ladies! did someone link to this post recently? Just wondering as I got two fresh comments on it today. Royalty Girl, I think it’s a great style to be inspired by, mostly because of the ability to mix so many styles within it.

    d’nise, I think they might be Jonathan Adler Prescott Chairs. Rather pricey, but what gorgeous lines!



  28. Garrison says:

    March 25th, 2009 at 5:08 am (#)

    Hi Ladies, By the way it’s not just women who love Hollywood Regency. I just bought a condo in Palm Beach and I am planning to decorate in this classic style. I use to call it the “Palm Beach” style, but now realize that this was started in the 30’s with Hollywood stars. I always knew I liked it for it’s mix of oriental, modern, and slightly tacky style. Thanks so much for your information.

  29. d'nise harrison says:

    April 26th, 2009 at 9:48 am (#)

    thanx for the reply becky, and i wish i could remember how i came across this blog. gonna check out the jonathan adler link now.

  30. Kim Diamond says:

    August 19th, 2009 at 2:27 am (#)

    Fantastic post I have to say that I have never seen so many different designs and there are some many there that I would love to have in my home, great photos, this post has given me so many new ideas that I never thought possible to do, I love the fact that turquoise is making a splash.

  31. Sue | Office Furniture says:

    August 19th, 2009 at 2:51 am (#)

    I am just loving this blog, the designs the ideas they are just all stunning and amazing. The different concepts that designers have its like finger prints no 2 are a like.

  32. grey says:

    August 24th, 2010 at 4:41 am (#)

    Wow these spaces really inspire me to try and create something similar at my house. wish I was this creative though…thanks for the ideas

  33. Karla says:

    July 19th, 2011 at 10:14 am (#)

    Becky, please NEVER keep it simple! Thanks for sharing this wonders with us the HR lovers 🙂

  34. Rebecca | MidcenturyModernRemodel says:

    July 31st, 2012 at 9:34 pm (#)

    Bumped into this post while looking for something that described the relationship between mid-century modern and Hollywood Regency! Thank you, used the quote in today’s post and gave attribution.

  35. ColorHelp says:

    November 11th, 2012 at 9:27 pm (#)

    I like you when you’re a little cranky. Your stuff on Houzz, while interesting and useful, is much more restrained.

    I, too, am going to vomit if I hear one more person say “make it pop.”

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