Well Poised

California Homes


WHEN ASKED TO DESIGN A HOME in Montecito for a former model and ballerina, Stephan Jones took all cues from his client. “At 80 years old, she’s the most distinguished woman I’ve ever met. She appreciates the quality of lines, poise, elegance, and refinement,” says Jones, a Beverly Hills-based interior designer. In the spirit of redesigning, yet not over-decorating, Jones choreographed a sophisticated remodel to suit her personality. 

The original home was a “1980s post-modern horror” Jones describes, swathed in shades of peach and pink that had to be taken down to the studs. In rebuilding, the team’s goal was focused on simplifying the volumes of the house. The shape was kept to large squares with simple architectural openings, using lots of glass and skipping unnecessary adornment be it exterior doorway moldings, interior trim, or heavy draperies.


Keeping everything one color also helped streamline the aesthetic. Outside is a pale gray while the interior walls are all off-white with pale white oak floors and furnishings done in blacks, greys, and tans. The limited palette is a nod to the client’s closet, which is sectioned off by black, camel, and off-white. “She’s not into high-color,” Jones says, adding that the outdoors had to also be neutral and a visual extension of the interiors. To meet the request, he transitioned the oak floors to highly textured Mexican fossil stone outside, reminiscent of the Getty Center. This feels perfect for the art-filled gardens, where sculptures, Japanese trees, and a Corten steel water feature offer several focal points from inside the house. 

“As designers, we tend to think we should be adding,” Jones says, “this was about reducing.”

The clients’ art collection includes pottery, paintings, and primitive Oceanic pieces from Papa New Guinea, adding plenty of décor and drama. To round out the furnishings, Jones looked to their pieces to help find an appropriate era and starting point.

“These are not mid-century people, but we wanted something modern. Art Deco and Art Moderne fit well into that,”

says Jones, who notes that as art has always influenced furniture, he incorporated some Cubism as well since Picasso looked to tribal masks during that period. 

Many pieces of former furniture from desks to dining chairs were repurposed, and Jones complemented those with conversation areas filled with round and square cocktail tables full of unusual and artistic lines done in materials that playing up the architecture’s glass, metal, and wood. In the master bedroom, Jones paneled two opposing walls in perfect squares of white oak, adding hidden storage and inviting warm tones. The striking floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall design, thanks to a quarter-turn of each square, gives the home one more opportunity to celebrate poise through elegant lines, just as his client appreciates. Jones adds:

“This is a real reflection of her refinement.”