C California Style

Layering Effect

by C California Style

Peter Dunham infuses vintage patina with modern appeal in a casually elegant Brentwood home.

There are homes that look decorated, and then there are homes that are decorated by Peter Dunham. The English-born designer—whose A-list roster includes Drew Barrymore, Juicy Couture cofounder Pamela Skaist Levy and producer Steve Tisch—is known for his effortlessly chic spaces that layer rich textiles and vintage pieces with comfortable furniture that demands to be lived in. “California is about a carefree and casual existence, so it seems right to me to have interiors that are practical and easy,” Dunham says. “It’s a buzzkill to be careful every time one sits in a chair or puts a drink down on the table. That doesn’t mean giving up on style.”

Such was the desire for the owners of a 1925 traditional two-story home in Brentwood, who enlisted Dunham to make the space more convivial for raising their three daughters and the family’s two Labrador retrievers. “The idea was ‘California casual,’” Dunham says. “They entertain a lot in the garden, having friends with kids over, so they wanted comfort and practicality.”

Dunham added the space that serves as the formal dining room, incorporating custom armchairs, a Chesterfield sofa that was inspired by one from 1940s France. “A lot of my clients want vintage but don’t want to live with a bunch of antiques. They want things that have clean lines and straddle that divide.” Dunham hung handwoven Indian bedspreads as curtains and installed an abaca rug to add texture to the room. Behind the seating area, an expansive rift-white-oak refectory table does double duty as a place for the girls to do their homework during the week and where the family entertains on weekends.

In the pool house, framed maharajas preside over a square-arm sofa and chairs upholstered in bold-striped outdoor fabrics. Dunham’s hallmark of building up lighting from various sources plays out with glass table lamps, vintage brass sconces and an oversize sculptural Sputnik chandelier. “It’s almost like a planet—it’s quite big,” he says. “It’s very dramatic when all the lights are turned low.”

The dining room is one of the more formal spaces in the home, with hand-painted Fromental wallpaper inspired by a paper at Drottningholm Palace in Sweden and a 19th-century Spanish crystal-and-gilded-wood chandelier. The Danish modern Kaare Klint dining chairs are on the cusp of traditional and modern to create balance, Dunham says, “and the dining room sconces and chandelier aren’t matchy-matchy. They work off each other. I like to mix things so they look thrown together rather than overcalculated.”

By Heather John Fogarty.
PHOTOS: Victoria Pearson & Sam Frost.