Obamas’ Interior Designer Michael S. Smith New Project – Although much of Los Angeles dates back only as far as the early 20th century, the relatively young city holds an unlikely affinity for old-world charms. Michael S. Smith, the L.A. designer who redesigned the White House during the Obama administration, recently completed the interiors of a Beverly Hills home dating to 1932 that closely resembles a classic Mediterranean villa—terra-cotta roof tiles, stucco walls, and all. Inside, Smith’s approach embraces that likeness, as the arched entryway opens to a foyer evocative of a European courtyard; the floors are paved in reclaimed Spanish stone, and miniature antiquities, including a small obelisk carved from marble, sit atop an 18th-century northern Italian walnut console. As the skylight at the top of the central staircase illuminates the vase of freshly cut olive branches below, one gets the distinct sensation of standing in the open Mediterranean air.
The rest of the 12,000-square-foot, nine-bedroom home likewise unfolds as a journey through different eras and destinations, a convergence of various historic European sensibilities: the layering of boldly patterned textiles, an abundance of exquisitely crafted marble and stone, and a formidable collection of 17th- and 18th-century art and design.
“This idea of a pink living room was something that we thought about for their other houses in the past,” Smith says, but it hadn’t been realized until now. “When you work with the same people for so long, you know that one day you’ll be able to use an idea, so you kind of file it away in your head.”
Smith describes these interiors as a “greatest-hits album,” a testament to the clients’ world travels. For decades, he and the couple who own the house have done a fair amount of globe-trotting together, scouring flea markets and auction houses to furnish their residences in New York, California, Majorca, and beyond. For this home, Smith decided to pull different design elements from the couple’s rich past, “reshuffling the deck,” he says, by bringing them together under one roof. “This is sort of the distillation of what they’ve loved about all the houses they’ve had.”
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