Bill and Jacqui Hilary have owned over ten homes during their 30-year marriage, and every single one has had hardwood floors. Read on to learn how this versatile and beautiful material is an essential part of how they make a house a home.
"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." If ever a home embodied the words of Arts and Crafts luminary William Morris, it's Jacqui and Bill Hilary's Venice, California bungalow. From the art on the walls to the hardwood on the floors, the couple's 1913 Craftsman is a testament to the things that matter most to them: family, creativity, and functionality.
"I loved that it was a beach cottage-y kind of house," says Jacqui, a former educator and academic. In true Craftsman style, the home is dominated by wood, from the battered columns out front to the kitchen built-ins. But it's the floors that truly bring the outdoors in: the only unpainted wood element in the structure, they lend the space an organic energy.
"We've always had houses with unbelievable character," says Bill, an entertainment executive. He goes on to explain that wood floors are a huge part of that equation. "Wooden floors have a personality of their own," he says, noting that no two wood floors are alike.
With the warm wood floors as a foundation, Jacqui was free to play with color throughout the space. "When I move into a house, I get feelings about the colors that should be in the house," confides Jacqui. "Right from the get-go I said to Bill, 'this feels like it needs to be like the beach.'"
The result is a palette that recalls the sand, sea, and sky of Venice: Warm, beachy neutrals dominate the living space at the front of the home, while the dining room at its center is bathed in cooler, watery tones. In the back, the kitchen bursts into radiant hues of yellow, coral, and pink, bringing to mind summer days ending in suffusive sunsets.
The décor is equally unpretentious and eclectic: Danish modern furniture mingles with Art Deco gems, French Renaissance antiques, and rustic industrial pieces, which Jacqui prefers to have custom built by local artisans. The walls feature art ranging from Warhols to works by their son and daughter-in-law, both artists.
"I hate to look as if a magazine has thrown up in your room," says Bill of their approach, which eschews strict adherence to a single style. "I prefer a synergy of lots of different periods, of art, and furniture."
For all the mixing and matching, the space is unmistakably sophisticated and harmonious. Jacqui and Bill attribute this in part to the hardwood floors, whose pale warmth and organic texture provide a unifying foundation—not unlike the sands of Venice Beach, which form the backdrop for the neighborhood's eclectic mix of cultures.
"It warms it up," says Jacqui of the wood, "and it anchors the room."
Beyond that, the couple's decorating principles are simple but failure-proof. For one thing, says Jacqui, everything has a reason for being there. "This house isn't big enough for a lot of stuff that isn't functional," she says. "The stuff in here gets used."
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Jacqui continues, everything must pass a simple, intuitive test: "It just has to be…us."
Bill agrees. "That's our rule of thumb: Do we love it? Does it fit into our lives?"
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