Updated: Apr 8
Original Article on :- architecturaldigest.com
The Australian model calls on longtime friend Carlos Mota to fashion an exuberant California residence for her growing family.
Often, friends make the best collaborators. So for Australian model and Luma Beauty founder Jessica Hart and seasoned interiors editor, stylist, and designer Carlos Mota, a decorating partnership was a long time coming. “I’ve just always really admired Carlos’s taste and love for all things colorful and amazing,” says Hart.
The pair rolled with the same social circles for years in New York City and even traveled to India. But it wasn’t until Hart geared up for a cross-country move that their stars aligned for a project together. When Mota caught wind that she was giving up her glamorous Gramercy Park apartment (AD, September 2017) for a Spanish-style house in the Hollywood Hills, he immediately offered up his services. “I said, ‘When you move to L.A., I would love to help,’ ” Mota recalls.
Things quickly fell into place. Hart decamped from New York to create a home with now-fiancé James Kirkham, a creative entrepreneur and former race-car driver, and his young daughter Wren, who lives with the couple part-time. She and Mota set up meetings to discuss the vision for the layered, bohemian home. The pair pored over sample fabrics. Custom tiles were put into production.
But when COVID hit, around the same time the renovation started, everything came to a standstill. Hart found out she was expecting her first child, and Mota was hunkered down on the opposite coast indefinitely. “I mean, it was a scary time,” Hart says. “I just found out I was pregnant. And my main priority was getting this house to where it needed to be.”
It turned out that Mota had no choice but to design the home entirely from afar. (He didn’t even set foot on the property until days before the AD shoot.) Instead of in-person visits, the friends exchanged countless photos and videos.
It helped that Hart and Kirkham were more hands-on than Mota’s average clients. Hart would text Mota photos of furniture she found online, and he’d weigh in. When it wasn’t yet safe for contractors to come back to work, Kirkham built the closet cabinetry, painted rooms, and rewired lights. He even learned to weld, thanks to the equipment at his body shop and instructional YouTube videos, building an iron gate that’s seven feet tall for their yard. “I felt like he did just as much as the contractors eventually did,” says Hart. “It all kept coming together one step at a time.”
Slowly, the vision began to reveal itself. A combination of Moroccan, Turkish, and Italian design influences, the global mélange is held together by stripes and botanical patterns throughout.
Mota devised a combination of patterned wall coverings and graphic stripes to replace the home’s white walls. “I love stripes, and I’ve always loved them on ceilings,” he declares, a nod to Gio Ponti homes of the 1950s. Even the floors of the living and dining rooms got the punched-up treatment with a painted-on diamond pattern overlaid with Mauritanian flat-weave rugs. (Javier Sánchez created the house’s vibrant, painted effects.)
Swathed in a mustard yellow and accented with a stained-glass gate that Hart found leading to the laundry room, the kitchen, too, boasts no shortage of decorative elements. “I like to create kitchens that feel more like rooms,” Mota says, eschewing the typical gadgets and slick surfaces of modern kitchens to maintain the artistic spirit of the home.
The adjacent breakfast room is a case study in coziness. Hart considers the “basket room,” wrapped in a cane wall covering, one of her favorite spaces in the house. “L.A. is so bright, you have really great weather all year round, so I wanted to make that room kind of moody,” Mota explains.
For the primary bath, Hart wanted something pink and girly but still in line with the ornate decorative themes of the common spaces. Mota dug through his treasure trove of samples for the wall covering he envisioned—a Scalamandré pattern based on an Iznik-tiled mural at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. “Any decorator will tell you they have a library, you know,” he says. To offset the high-ticket panels, Mota dressed only one wall with the print and advised that the others get the painted-stripe treatment.
To furnish the eclectic home, Hart and Mota gravitated toward vintage pieces, which they mostly hit upon by combing through online auctions and boutiques. Some of Hart’s favorite finds from her New York apartment even made their way into the mix, like a suite of wicker armchairs and a black Herman Miller bench. Other pieces are less recognizable. Curtains of a green Clarence House velvet—which formerly adorned the 14-foot windows of her Gramercy Park bachelorette pad—now upholster the wicker armchairs. And fabric from her old closet covers a bench in the breakfast room.
Today, with daughter Baby born—and a new baby on the way—the arduous process is finally becoming history. “I had no initial expectation; I just knew it would be great with Carlos,” Hart says. “I just trusted him and took his lead.”