Daniel Romualdez Makes Fantasy Reality at This 1920s Spanish Colonial

Paola Singer

Architect and decorator Daniel Romualdez designs Manhattan penthouses and Aspen chalets for the likes of Aerin Lauder and Eric Zinterhofer, Renee and Mark Rockefeller, and Gigi and Averell Mortimer—the ne plus ultra of American high society. It might seem unusual, then, to see him paired with a 33-year-old client whose budget, as Romualdez so candidly put it, “was a fraction of what we typically spend on a single room.” Yet the idea of stepping outside of his studio’s norm, not just in terms of demographic but also in terms of style, was highly appealing. “It’s important for me to work with young people; it keeps me fresh,” he says. “And I enjoyed the challenge of editing myself.”

The young client in question is Will Bennett, a real estate developer who met Romualdez five years ago while they were both working on 70 Vestry Street, a residential project in Tribeca. Not long afterwards, Bennett moved to Los Angeles and spent more than a year searching for his ideal home: a 1920s Spanish colonial property in the Hollywood Hills, with views of the city and a lush garden. “When I finally bought my new house, I jokingly asked Daniel if he wanted to work on it,” he says. “I’m so thankful that he actually said yes and kept to the budget—I think he even got excited about that!”

A corner of the eat-in kitchen was outfitted with a built-in banquette upholstered in Perennial’s “raffia” fabric, paired with an antique wine-tasting table from France and Charlotte Perriand dining chairs. “He entertains a lot,” says Romualdez of his client. “The house reflects his character and his lifestyle.”

Indeed, Romualdez was enthusiastic about choosing affordable yet sophisticated pieces, such as Jean Michel Frank sofas and chairs, which he combined with a handful of prized originals, including a set of Frank Lloyd Wright side tables and a series of Carlo Scarpa dining chairs. These furnishings, together with an off-white color palette and the generous use of natural fabrics, help set a modern, earthy atmosphere throughout the 3,000-square-foot, four-bedroom property. “I was inspired by the fact that we're in California, but he's from New England,” says Romualdez. “I kept thinking about what a New Yorker’s fantasy home in L.A. should look like.”

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While Romualdez is better known for creating richly layered interiors filled with objets d’art, he clearly possesses the kind of versatility that befits a long-established and celebrated designer. “I've been to his homes and have seen his range, which gave me a lot of confidence,” says Bennett, adding that he and Romualdez have forged a warm friendship. “He made this house really feel like a home—and that’s one of the nicest things anyone can do for you.”

Daniel Romualdez Makes Fantasy Reality at This 1920s Spanish Colonial

East Coast native and real estate developer Will Bennett spent long months looking for his ideal L.A. home, a 1920s Spanish Colonial property in the Hollywood Hills featuring sweeping city views. Designed by celebrated architect and decorator Daniel Romualdez, it has four bedrooms and 3,000 square feet of living space.
The home’s library doubles as an occasional dining room (Mr. Bennett typically hosts dinners outdoors, in a garden with sweeping city views). An Art Deco table by Viennese designer Paul T. Frankl, placed below a Thomas O’Brien Billiard light fixture, was paired with wood-and-leather chairs by Carlo Scarpa, designed in the ’70s for Bernini. The back wall features a painting by Sadie Benning, part of a growing collection of contemporary American art.
A corner of the eat-in kitchen was outfitted with a built-in banquette upholstered in [Perennial](https://www.perennialsfabrics.com/fabrics/collections/clodagh/raffia/raffia-oyster/)’s “raffia” fabric, paired with an antique wine-tasting table from France and Charlotte Perriand dining chairs. “He entertains a lot,” says Romualdez of his client. “The house reflects his character and his lifestyle.”
Off the kitchen, a place to sit and have coffee looks out over the city, where the outdoor table and chairs are by Sarita Jaccard—the landscape designer for the project.
One of the coziest and most personal rooms in the house is the office, covered with a collection of family photos and a portrait of Bennett as a three-year-old. The bronze giraffe in the back corner, as well as the bust next to it, were made by his grandmother, who was a sculptor. “I lost my family when I was too young,” he says. “This room has so many memories.” The leather sofa is a vintage piece by Borge Mogensen, and the Danish teak desk is by Jens Quistgaard.
Robi, the homeowner’s two-year-old Swiss shepherd, relaxes in the living room. “That’s where he always sits and watches television,” says Bennett, who installed a film projector and retractable screen in the space. To the left of the fireplace we see Pierre Jeanneret’s iconic Chandigarh chair and a slim metal side table from Corbin Bronze. Anchoring the space is an off-white coffee table custom made by Racing Green Construction in Crema Marfil stone.
The living room’s sofa and matching armchair, as well as the leather-and-iron side chairs, are new pieces inspired by Jean Michel Frank, while the small wooden side tables were built in the ’40s by Frank Lloyd Wright for Robert and Rae Levin.
Romualdez designed the master suite’s four-poster bed, which is partially covered in Cavallini hair-on hide. Above the mantel is an antique African mask and a painting by the late Dutch artist Karel Appel. Custom rolled-arm seats (with throw pillows upholstered in Zak and Fox’s El Rais fabric) add warmth to the otherwise masculine space.
While working on a project in Hawaii, which has a strong Janapese influence, Bennett learned about ofuro soaking tubs and had one made in hinoki wood for his own bathroom. The fittings are from Waterworks’ Isla collection.
Another view of the master bath shows double sinks in bush-hammered Crema Marfil stone and Waterworks’ Isla fittings in a carbon finish. The hanging Moroccan lanterns, purchased on Etsy, flank an arched window designed by Romualdez to add natural light and city views to the space.
“One of the nice things about Los Angeles is the weather allows you to shower outside,” says Bennett about this secluded corner of the garden, tucked behind an arched door whose purple color was inspired by the work of Mexican architect Luis Barragán.
Robi, looking unfazed at the prospect of a bath, inside the garden’s vintage bathtub. The stairs in the background lead to an elevated deck with lounge seats. Sarita Jaccard designed the lush landscape. Bennett bought the vintage bathtub on Craigslist, “for about $100,” and had it reglazed.
Bennett asked a local artist to create a neon sign for the garden that reads “the end depends upon the beginning,” a motto from his high school. A built-in sofa made by Racing Green Construction was paired with metal-and-leather chairs by Luteca. In the background is a seven-foot-tall amethyst from Brazil.
A fire pit made by Racing Green Construction allows for outdoor entertaining year-round, even on the occasional chilly night. The lounge and dining chairs are by Mexico’s Luteca. Landscape designer Sarita Jaccard planted birds of paradise, lavender, jasmine, and agave in the garden.

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest