C California Style

A painting by Anna Kagan is a modern contrast to the 18th-century giltwood console.
On the terrace, a faux tree stone table makes a natural statement.
In the living room, Gregga says he “made a marriage of metallics” and used an antique mirror to surround the mantel, adding reflection and depth to the room. He bought the oil painting by Fernando Botero in Mexico City in 1958, before the artist was well known.
William Laman (left) and Bruce Gregga with their terrier, Mazie, in front of their Montecito home.
A 1950s gilt figure by artist Pedro Friedeberg.
In the blue-and-white sitting room off the kitchen, their collection of original Delftware includes two rare tobacco jars.
The exterior is adorned in green clipped boxwoods and hedges.
A pair of black 19th-century Hollywood Regency Spoon Back chairs was found at Ed Hardy Antiques in San Francisco.
A white Picasso platter rests on a console.
An antique Chinese secretary desk is painted in what Laman and Gregga call a “strange, beautiful green.”
Mazie lounges on her bed, a sofa they’ve kept for years, under a painting Gregga spotted from an escalator at Marshall Fields in Chicago. The picture has been framed, unframed and reframed depending on the space.
Outside, the couple conjured up a lane in Paris as inspiration to add privacy to their home via curving hedges and lots of greenery.
In the dining room, a pair of brass-and-walnut bookcases were originally designed by Billy Baldwin for Cole Porter’s apartment in the Waldorf Astoria. The table, which is more commonly covered in books than dishes, is surrounded by chairs from India.
Collected sculpture and an African fertility mask add global accents to walk-through spaces.
A collection of Dutch, French and Chinese porcelain and ceramics.
Above the dresser is a Continental period green-and-gold mirror.

Acquired Taste

by C California Style

Bruce Gregga and William Laman curate a collected, global home in Montecito.

Interior designer Bruce Gregga and antiques-shop owner William Laman have carried their beloved art and furniture from home to home over the course of 30 years, so a look inside their Montecito living room is a bit like peeking into their well-worn passports. Collections of porcelain, artwork and rare furniture span the globe from Mexico City to Paris to Argentina.

“You’ll never see a lot of clutter here; Bruce edited everything,” Laman says of the seamless mix of styles and centuries. “You enjoy the empty spaces as much as those that are filled with furniture.” After finding their 1960s California ranch home three years ago, Gregga opened up a few rooms to create a better flow. The airy allure can also be attributed to Gregga’s signature custom blend of white paint, a shade that his former Chicago design team dubbed “BG White.” It’s a warm hue he calls “not yellow, just mellow” that is as flattering in a bare entryway as it is for a backdrop to their worldly art and furniture collection, which includes an original Botero oil painting and bookcases that once belonged to legendary composer Cole Porter.

While the home’s palette is mostly neutral with metallics, the kitchen gets a brilliant shot of blue and white, playing off the couple’s collection of English china and Delftware from Holland. Here Gregga turned a former maid’s room into an adjacent sitting room, lining the walls with indigo linen and surrounding the fireplace in discontinued decorative tiles made in L.A.—there were so few remaining in the batch that they finished the project with less than half a piece left.

The partners go on frequent buying trips for their Montecito store, finding pieces and inspiration everywhere. When it came time to re-engineer the exposed, circular driveway, they recalled wandering down a lane of rounding hedges in Paris, wondering where the magic might lead. To their surprise it spit them out in front of an Abercrombie & Fitch, but nevertheless they used that mental postcard to transform their front yard into a more private entry filled with hedges, boxwoods, topiaries and pea gravel.

After creating a private oasis inside and out, Gregga says he’s happy to walk in and close the door, surrounded by their possessions, which really are memories and stories. “Bruce was inspired by that curve and rhythm and understated elegance; it really is a breathtaking approach,” Laman says. “When you travel and are inspired, it translates.” 

By Jennifer Blaise Kramer.
Photographed by Victoria Pearson.