William Hefner Picks Furniture for an Opulent Bel Air Mansion

The architect goes shopping for 1stdibs pieces that can make a statement in this empty 60,000-square-foot West Coast Versailles.
The ballroom of Chateau des Fleurs in Bel Air, California, designed by Studio William Hefner.

The ballroom of Chateau des Fleurs in Bel Air, California, designed by Studio William Hefner. All architectural photos by Laura Hull and courtesy of the book Chateau des Fleurs (Pointed Leaf Press)

While it might intimidate some to select decor for a place like Chateau des Fleurs, architect William Hefner is unfazed. After all, he is the design force behind every detail of the remarkable family home, from cornices to faucets, sconces to trees.

Along with his wife, Kazuko Hoshino (head of interior design at his eponymous studio), the twosome painstakingly created a modern-day manor house for a family on 10 acres in Los Angeles’s tony Bel Air neighborhood.

For rooms with impressive scale and details like ornate ironwork, black and white limestone floors, and paneled walls, pieces need to enhance the architecture and vice versa.

While designing the home, Hefner took multiple trips to France to research the materials, flourishes and landscaping. However, we tasked him exploring just once source — 1stdibs — to find the ultimate pieces for five distinct areas in the chateau: the entry, a bedroom and a bathroom inside, plus the loggia and pool area just outside.

Graciously, he accepted the challenge. After all, who wouldn’t want to play house here? Herewith, he shares his vision for each of the spaces and explains his urbane and often surprising selections for them.

The Entry

Wanting a classic French stair, Hefner chose a double symmetrical style (the right side is shown above). He also laid down checkered limestone floors and used the 18th– and 19th-century technique of Stuc Pierre for the walls to give the space a luminous look. “It was inspired by the Picasso Museum in Paris and helped to create an outdoor feeling here,” Hefner says. For decor, he chose “large-scale, ornate and interesting pieces to set the tone for the home.”

William Hefner Picks Furniture for an Opulent Bel Air Mansion

“The rare Fornasetti depicts architectural details and provides great interest, height and glamour in the entry. It’s a large-scale decorative piece.”

The center table has a modern feel and is impressive in size.”

“We chose the classic French settee because we liked the combination of modern and traditional in this ornate entry. And it’s a nice seating piece for guests.”

“The scale of the furniture is important, so large floor lamps help with the balance in the room while providing interesting uplight. The ebonized and gilt finish complements the marble floor.”

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Lady’s Bedroom

“This bedroom is for the lady of the house, so we wanted to indulge in the feminine,” says Hefner. “We used silver-leaf molding, curvilinear accents and a soft blue paint inspired by China.” Blue and silver were the starting points for Hefner’s furniture selections, too. But there’s a twist. “The modern pieces are in direct contrast to the room’s highly traditional and extravagant paneling,” he says.

William Hefner Picks Furniture for an Opulent Bel Air Mansion

“The linear nature of the space is contrasted by the graceful curve of the sofa. I would place this near the fireplace to make a seating area.”

The curve of the coffee table contrasts, too. Placing it in front of the Ico Parisi sofa near the fireplace finishes the seating area.”

“Placed over the fireplace, the flower-shaped mirrors provide unexpected whimsy and femininity.”

“The commode is poetic in its form and elegant in this ladylike space. It also serves as storage for the room.”

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Lady’s Bathroom

Hefner cleverly created an ellipse-shaped bathroom with a pale palette of bone and platinum and lots of bright natural light. “The focal point of the room is the subject in the mirror, not the decor,” he explains. “Because a bathroom is layered with hard, reflective surfaces, it needs soft, luxurious pieces to fill the space and make it feel comfortable.”

William Hefner Picks Furniture for an Opulent Bel Air Mansion

“The colors and contours of the chaise longue are light and peaceful in this ornate room. And it’s a great spot for lounging opposite the vanity.”

The small, marble side table feels delicate next to the chaise.”

As a seat for the vanity, this stool adds a feminine touch to the space.”

“Placed on the vanity, this beautiful glass-lidded bowl is the color of water, which is appropriate here.”

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The Loggia

“This large, south-facing loggia comes directly off the entry, living and dining areas, making it a prime location for formal entertaining,” says Hefner. Anchored by two fireplaces on both ends and taking advantage of the parterre garden, the space could use “pieces to fill in the open area as well as seating around the fireplace,” Hefner notes.

William Hefner Picks Furniture for an Opulent Bel Air Mansion

“To flank the doors along the loggia, a stately set of urns would allow for an opportunity to add ferns and greenery to the space.”

“Placed in the center of the loggia, this piece would fill the space very well. “

“I’d use this unique and interesting piece on top of the neoclassical table in the middle of the open area.”

“Creating a seating area in front of the fireplace, these armchairs are both substantial and decorative.”

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The Pool

To align with the overall vision of the house, Hefner decided the pool should look more like a fountain. “Hence, the fountain bowl in the middle of it,” he says. Just like the entry, both modern and decorative seating are needed to complement each other. “I also like some surprising, attention-grabbing pieces to add another dimension to the space,” he says.

William Hefner Picks Furniture for an Opulent Bel Air Mansion

“This piece adds some unexpected drama to the pool area.”

“This space needed some decorative poolside seating. The French faux-bois garden table and chairs are a unique addition.”

“More seating for the pool area, and the elaborate design of these iron chairs, create a nice juxtaposition with the organic forms of the faux-bois garden table set.”

“An art piece to add some drama to the outdoor space.”

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For those who wish to relish in the entire creative process, Hefner documented the home’s journey in the recently published book Chateau des Fleurs (Pointed Leaf Press), with photography by Laura Hull. And you can find our in-depth profile story on Studio William Hefner in Introspective magazine.

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