When people think about life in Los Angeles," says designer Hillary Thomas, "they forget about neighborhoods like Rustic Canyon. It's a wonderful place to raise a family." The mid-century modern home that Thomas decorated for a single mother of three appears tucked into a lush forest of sycamore and eucalyptus trees, and boasts the kind of low, graceful architecture that's as suited to after-school playdates as it is to candlelit cocktail parties. "This style of house can have very masculine connotations," says the designer. "Tom Ford even filmed parts of A Single Man nearby. But we chose to emphasize its softer elements.
Thomas, cofounder of Chic Shop, a spirited purveyor of cheery, mid-century treasures, was the ideal choice to lend a feminine touch to the home's Mad Men-era design. "The whole idea behind Chic Shop is to pay tribute to our grandmothers," she says, the sort of high-style doyennes that Slim Aarons loved to photograph, the kind of ladies who served cocktails at five."
It was this spirit of old-school civility that Thomas sought to evoke in her client's Rustic Canyon residence. Through a careful series of fabric and color selections, the designer brought warmth to the house's cool lines. In the light-filled living room, for instance, she covered sleek, modern furnishings in cream-colored wools and mossy green velvets. For the walls of the master bedroom, Thomas opted for a richly textured grass cloth and upholstered the bed in a soothing pink Jim Thompson textile.
And throughout the house, Thomas contributed dashes of the vintage-inspired flair for which she celebrated, such as the bar closet's zebra-printed Scalamandre and the asymmetrical reading nook she fashioned from one of the house's deep, angular windows. "Our client wanted to create a real home for her family," says Thomas. "She found a fabulous house. And at every opportunity, we underscored its elegance and poise."