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Maile Pingel | Photo: Douglas Hill | Portrait by Tim Melideo | April 11, 2014
Striking global style and gorgeous ocean views shape the new Pacific Palisades home of Jane and David Hilton.
“I hate fussy,” says interior designer Jane Hilton. “Although I like to look at glossy modern homes, I would never want to live in one!” And that’s precisely the honest spirit that permeates the Palisades residence shared by the Queensland, Australia-born designer and her husband, David Hilton. (Yes, of those Hiltons. He’s uncle to Paris and Nicky.) “I like design that is luxurious in an easy, carefree way,” she adds.
To build their California dream home, the couple turned to Malibu-based architect Doug Burdge, who was referred to them by a friend and who, coincidentally, was already familiar with the site. “Our firm had a history with this parcel, years before the Hiltons purchased it,” says the architect. Consider it fate. The new home, which was built from the ground up and took about 14 months to complete, is situated on a corner lot and set far enough back from the street to provide the family with plenty of privacy. “This particular corner is a popular strolling location, as it’s on an ocean-view bluff,” notes Burdge’s project designer, Jeanette Tang.
“[Jane] wanted a Mediterranean-style home with a simple, modernized interior,” continues Tang. “She had done a lot of research, pulling images of design ideas, and with Doug’s ability to interpret those ideas, the design of the home was developed.” The firm works in a variety of styles, but “this house served as a great median,” offers Burdge, because of its Spanish-contemporary look.
“Doug understood that we wanted to create privacy [while taking] advantage of the beautiful Pacific views,” explains Jane, “which is not easy to achieve. You really have to choose windows and window sizes wisely!” But views aren’t exclusive to the glass panes. The duo designed a rooftop terrace that offers comfy seating and a fireplace to chase away the chill. “David loves to look at the ocean and check the surf, and the colors of the California sunset are spectacular,” she adds.
Below the terrace is a pool that adds to the home’s resort-like feel. “We’ve had some great parties out here,” she says. “I had a wedding shower with 30 ladies and it was perfect—the space is not too big and not too small, and the pool provides such a pretty backdrop.” Surrounding the house are lush, native plantings by R.W. Graham & Associates. “We wanted low-maintenance, drought-tolerant and hardy,” continues the designer.
To make the house itself feel rooted on the site, the architect and designer employed architectural elements that infer age: leaded windows, traditionally patterned tiles and wood details, like decorative beams repurposed from a Pennsylvania barn. Another key influence on the look of the residence was the designer’s husband. “David is a keen surfer, so I tried to infuse that into our home,” says Jane, who studied fashion before switching to interiors and joining an architectural firm in her homeland. “I love comfortable houses that you can really live in, not just showpieces,” she says—an aesthetic well suited to life with a busy teenage son.
“Spanish architecture can take many different styles of furniture,” continues the designer. Moroccan, Asian, Arts and Crafts—they’re all here, and getting along swimmingly. But it’s color—a palette of watery blues, chocolate browns and rich creams—that visually unites the five-bedroom, 5,350-square-foot house. To furnish the home, Jane shopped locally, finding key pieces at Rooms & Gardens on Montana Avenue, Calypso in Brentwood, and Hollywood at Home on La Cienega—“which I am obsessed with,” she playfully admits. High-end and custom pieces mix with basics from shops like West Elm and Pottery Barn, where Jane sourced chunky hemp rugs for textural oomph. “I love the play of dark on light, cotton fabrics and stripes, to make a space look fresh,”she says. Paisley and Middle Eastern-inspired prints add a globe-trotting, faraway feel.
The couple’s art collection also reinforces the worldly vibe. “Most of the works we brought from Australia, and most are by Australian artists,” Jane explains. “I am such an admirer of Nicholas Harding and have two of his beach paintings. They remind me of home.” Works by photographer Mari Hirata and painter Ray Crooke can also be found, along with carved-wood paddles and other ethnic touches.
When it comes to the whole, the Hiltons’ home is very much the happy sum of its seemingly disparate parts. “In the end,” says Jane, “it really is about the look of something; it doesn’t matter the origin or the designer label. ‘If it looks right, it is right.’ I forget who said that—I think it was Dorothy Draper—but it is so true!” Very true, indeed.
Doug Burdge/Burdge & Associates
Steven Handelman Studios
Custom Moroccan-style light fixtures throughout home
Rooms & Gardens
Living room sofa and Moroccan tables, cushions and accessories in bedrooms
Hollywood at Home
Paisley armchairs and accent cushions in living room; dining room chairs