After a couple decades in the design industry, you learn to refine your approach to a new design project and at our firm, unlike many others, we aren’t known for just one type of look or style. The first thing we do when we sit down with a new client is get to know them, how they live, and what they like and then we begin our turn key process to put their vision into motion! So when we began designing the Bel Air Road mansion, we asked the most important question that would inform our design process and choices:
Who Is the Client?
Enter Lisa Chiang: She is a Chinese-American TV show host, and an expert for Chinese families on how to raise children in America. (Did you know such a thing exists? It does and it’s a huge industry!) She’s a larger-than-life, ultra-glamorous fashionista with an extensive designer wardrobe (more on that later) and would be making most of the design choices with our team.
Her husband Stanley Chung recently sold his windows manufacturing company and is working on real estate investments in Los Angeles. He is a member of the Beverly Hills chapter of Young Presidents’ Organization. Clearly, high end finishes and architectural details were going to be incredibly important in this project.
Together they are proud parents of two champion student athletes. They’re a worldly family, having lived all over the world, including time in Shanghai and they all speak fluent English and Chinese. The home would have to reflect their sporty, California-Casual sensibility, as well as their multiculturalism.
How long does a mansion renovation take?
How much does a Bel Air mansion cost to renovate?
Is investing in a luxury interior designer a good investment?
The project took about six months from Design to construction completion and furniture installation. Our original budget was $750,000 but we exceeded $1 million as the client made decisions to completely renovate the entire house -every single material all the bathrooms and kitchen, And all new windows from Lion Windows and Doors. The house was purchased for about $6 million and is now worth about $12 so I’d say it’s a pretty good investment!
Next Step: What to Keep + Goal Setting
What to Keep Of the Original Home?
The house was initially was remodeled and decorated in the 80s. It was covered in cabbage rose wallcover, an ornate trompe l’oeil forest pattern covered the entry way. Saturated eggplant venetian plaster adorned the living room, and extremely dark paneling and window treatments in the family room. It was already gorgeous! What were we doing there?!
These finishes were all expertly done and very beautiful, but it was dated. The house was so dark and heavy and this client loves light and bright. So let there be light! She wanted the house flooded with light.
Brightening It Up & Emphasizing Indoor Outdoor Lifestyle in Bel Air
What I loved about this house was that it had an indoor outdoor vibe and a lot a natural wood and stone. It reminded me of something Michael Taylor would design if only it was white. First thing first: remove the dark finishes and get lots of cans of white paint to the site so that the rustic woods and natural stones pop out and be highlighted.
Starting in the entry way, the white walls and wide plank French Oak flooring from Diamond W is what defines the Cool California Ranch vibe for the entire home, and is neutral enough to give us some room to play with accessories, funky art, furnishings, and my favorite: lighting. The entryway and hallway to the Bel Air Road home was ALL about the lighting. Some of my personal favorite light fixtures come from the Lamps Plus Possini collection and I use them any chance I get to! The Bel Air Road entry way features the Possini Euro pendants in brushed nickel along the stairs and Pax sconces along the hallway way.
The entryway chandeliers are also from Lamps Plus: The Hudson Valley manufactured Bari chandelier in polished nickel was the perfect fixture to add some glamour to the California Ranch home.
No expense was spared in making their modern chef’s kitchen a reality. Top-of-the-line stainless steel Sub Zero and Viking appliances from Ferguson make this kitchen a real show stopper. But it’s the Crystal Clear Island Pendant from Lamps Plus that gives the space some glamorous style.
Challenges Designing The Master Bathroom
One of the biggest challenges we had in the house was that we love the existing marble in the bathroom and we did not want to tear it up or replace it. But the client wanted a brand new, bigger bathtub and that required is to match the existing marble for the tub deck. I think we did a good job even though an exact match was nowhere to be found.
The master bathroom is actually one of my favorite rooms of the home. Because we liked the marble so much and because of the expense of replacing it we decided to leave the master shower in its original configuration and just replace the Faucets.
Now that they live there, and are using the shower they are underwhelmed by what they call “1970s showering technology.” We had hoped we could simply remove the faucets and add some hand showers and more up-to-date technology for the faucets however California recently instituted some pretty tough regulations regarding faucets and our choices are so limited. We’re still working on this issue, but hope to have a solution with adding a hand shower. In this case function supersedes form even though the client has one of most beautiful showers I’ve ever seen!
Mixing & Matching Styles: Casual California Ranch with International Fashion Glam
The next challenge was that the design was very Bel Air California relaxed ranch and the client is a little more international Fashionista. Lighting was the solution. We added a lot of the bling that she loves in the accessory lighting. So when you go throughout the house you see lighting of various styles and mixed metals that marries the comfortable vibe and the sophisticated style that the client wanted. Lamps Plus to the Rescue!
Mixing High & Low: Lisa Chiang’s Incredible Closet
The next challenge was housing the clients enormous fashion collection and wardrobe. Even though there were two master closet’s and a considerable hall with shelving outside of the master bedroom, we needed a lot more room for her collection of over 1000 pairs designer shoes. We decided to go into the hall and make it kind of an art installation expanding her closet with glass shelving which was really cool because it displayed the most beautiful shoes.
The $30,000 price tag from the cabinet builder was not a solution that the client was really happy about. IKEA to the rescue. We installed Floor to ceiling glass faced cabinets all down the bedroom hallway for around $2000. I love IKEA I think they have really good solutions with some of their closet and cabinet systems it’s affordable and Durable. There’s nothing that makes me happier than going high and low in the same project and putting something from IKEA in a $12 million Bel Air house. I love IKEA and what they stand for. And in this case their product completely solved the price and storage problem for us.
Last week, I published the closet reveal with all the tips and tricks we used to get Lisa’s closet organized BEFORE we could even begin designing along with some of the affordable organization systems I love using in closet design. For more on closet organization, give the post a read here.