No hotel captures the glamor and history of Tinseltown like the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Since opening in 1927 on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the flamboyant Spanish Colonial Revival style building has welcomed everyone from silent movie star Mary Pickford to pre-famous Marilyn Monroe. It was the location of the very first Oscars in 1929, and — 80 years later — the nocturnal haunt of the mid-aughts besties Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. (Monroe, for his part, would always have haunted the seal too.)
The clientele It has invariably changed over the decades, and the interiors of the hotel have evolved – to better or worst– just with that. Today, ELLE DECOR A-List company Nickey Kehoe is helping write the next chapter for the Los Angeles icon by offering a chic facelift to her burgeoning colonnaded lobby. Additionally, the duo recently unveiled the trendy interiors of the hotel’s new restaurant, Barish, run by James Beard Award-winning chef Nancy Silverton.
“It’s two stars, Roosevelt and Nancy, who get together,” says Amy Kehoe, who runs the business with her husband Todd Nickey. “How do you create a backdrop for both of them to really shine? “
Designed in the 1920s, the lobby retains adornments from Hollywood’s golden age such as painted ceilings, tiled floors, and an interior vaulted loggia. But deciphering what was true to the original design turned out to be tricky. “There was a lot, a lot of interaction [over the years]», Explains Nickey.
So instead of replicating the lobby as Charlie Chaplin would have experienced it in all its dazzling glory, the designers focused on capturing the essence of the hotel’s old self, but in a way that looked contemporary and fresh.
“For such a large space, it really lacked energy and movement,” says Kehoe. “It was very quiet.” When they first saw it, the hall was populated with an unfortunate handful of black leather furniture. “It was like a train or a bus station,” Nickey adds.
The building’s landmark status prevented any invasive design work (although the designers were allowed to move a fountain), so they relied on some spatial finesse to make the lobby welcoming. They first separated the lounges from the loggia by placing scalloped and woven screens in the surrounding arcades, a move that accentuates the architecture and keeps the circulation spaces (and all that rolling luggage) out of sight.
The duo also created separate seating groups, depending on whether you want to have a cocktail or get cozy and read a book. For the furniture, Nickey Kehoe relied on vintage and custom pieces, as well as items available in their own LA. design shop. But because the lobby lacked daylight and featured matte beige surfaces, it “absorbs everything,” Kehoe notes. “Like, you could put neon in there and it turns like burgundy.”
Rather than struggle with this fact, Kehoe and Nickey leaned over it and brought the palette of jewel-toned flourishes painted on the ceiling all the way to the lobby, from teal velvet chairs and burgundy floral-print sofas to Ottomans with saffron tassels. Shaded lamps and wall sconces, meanwhile, cast a flattering glow on the plaster walls and guests’ faces.
The final touch? A very LA assortment of potted palm trees and a new fireplace by the bar – an unrealized detail the designers found in a very early hotel rendering.
“Now, even though only two people are seated in the entire lobby, it’s comfortable,” Kehoe says proudly.
For the BarishNicky Kehoe sat down with restaurant chef Nancy Silverton to create the perfect backdrop for her Cali-meets-Italy version of classic steakhouse dishes.
The aim was to marry the hotel’s timeless atmosphere with Silverton’s penchant for rustic Italian cuisine. The challenge, as with all restaurant hot spots, according to Kehoe, was to create a vibe that “while great, doesn’t look like a Pinterest page a year after installation.”
Instead of mood boards, the duo turned to their memories of travels across Europe and let design inspiration draw inspiration from them. “It’s like driving through the Italian countryside and stopping at a rustic restaurant and enjoying the best meal of your life,” Kehoe explains. “It’s the feeling that really started it all for Todd and me.” The concept was met with a touch of skepticism from Silverton, but Nickey and Kehoe inevitably won it over.
The space, like the lobby, needed some retouching, as it once housed another restaurant. The ceiling was painted a dazzling white; the stucco columns were covered with warm wood and mirror tiles. Lavish details abound, from custom stone tables with ribbed edges to lush floral wallpaper that borders a curtained dining nook.
One of the favorite elements of the designers are the wooden pendant lights in neo-Gothic hues, inspired by an old one that they recovered during one of these stays in Europe. “We had it on a shelf and we loved it so much,” Nickey says. “Here, we made it bigger and did several iterations of prototypes. ”
In another clever move, the designers placed mirrors behind caned bench partitions. “You don’t feel bombarded by your reflection, but there is light and movement,” Kehoe explains. “It’s a really magical touch.”
An open kitchen allows diners to watch the cooks grill a wood-fired porter or prepare a hearty bowl of pasta al forno. A tiled mural depicting hand-painted images of a well-stocked pantry – a suckling pig and all – forms the backdrop for the actual culinary picture.
Has the renovation received a chef’s kiss? Yes, say the designers. The insightful Silverton was very pleased with the outcome and clearly thirsty for more: “Now,” Nickey notes, “Nancy shopped in our store all the time.”
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