An Antiques Lover Goes Modern….Somewhat!


I’ve written about this before, but many moons ago when I started out in interior design, a client brought me this clipping of a magazine story, showing a house decorated by Suzanne Rheinstein.  I fell in love with that house too and so began a long love affair with Rheinstein.

This magazine story was the first of many collaborations between Rheinstein and this family.  My own client had carried this clipping around in her purse for years.  When she brought me this photograph she asked me to use it as an inspiration for her living room. 


Just give me 1/2 million dollars and I’ll go buy a roomful of gorgeous antiques.

Actually, make that a million.

Another view of the beautiful console (of which there were two in this room) and screen above it.  Notice the painted, antique hat box under the console - my client loved that hatbox, but alas, we never found a replacement for it!

Across the room this beautiful chintz covered sofa sits before the Rheinstein designed ottoman. 

And last, this pair of chairs sit next to the beautiful painted hat box, which was moved around the room for the photoshoots like that proverbial vase of  red roses.   Looking at this room all these years later, it is so in style today.  It is the definition of Grandmillennial Chic!

Some years after this story was first printed, the farmhouse was entirely redecorated by Rheinstein, including this room that I was asked to recreate.   While before, the room was warm and charming with its light peachy walls, after the redecoration, it was much more sophisticated.  

Suzanne added a skirted table and an antique settee.  There were new chintzes and other new fabrics, but note – the painted hat box remains!  The cream slipcovered chairs were recovered in a chintz.

And remaining is the beautiful console, with its newly painted top.  The console is now sitting in front of a more sophisticated piece of art work, rather than the painted screen.

For years, both versions of this room represented Suzanne Rheinstein to me.  It showed her two sides in this one room.  There’s her ability to use antiques in a casual, cozy way and, then, there’s the way she uses antiques in a more sophisticated, sparse way.

A bathroom in the same farmhouse showcases Rheinstein’s ease with antiques.

I love Rheinstein’s use of antiques.  I have always felt she has such an eye to choose the prettiest, most interesting antique.  Few have such an ability and she is at the top of that list.  She just never misses.

More from the farmhouse’s bathroom. 

Her choice of antiques is always the most beautiful, achingly pretty, feminine and endearing.   While her rooms can be maximalist,  they might resemble her favorite adage “fewer things but better things.”

So true, so true!!!

   When I talk about loving Rheinstein’s use of antiques – this is what I mean.  In her L.A. bedroom, notice the cabinet over the mantel.  Or is it a cabinet?  It’s old, most likely. But if not, it’s such a pretty piece – who cares?   It is precious, for sure.   I have no doubt you haven’t seen one of these before.  It’s not something you would find knocked off by the thousands in Marshalls or Home Goods.  But even that doesn’t bother Rheinstein.  She likes to mix the high with the low, as long as the low is a good design, rather than a mediocre design.


And it’s always this way.  Her interiors are filled with the unique, the beautiful, the rare and a pop of the unexpected. 

A love affair with Suzanne Rheinstein meant obsessing over her house in Los Angeles, stalking every photoshoot of it which was easy to do since over the years her house was photographed many times for magazines and books. 

And so, is it true?  Is this lover, this maven of antiques going modern!?!?  No, it can’t be!!!

I will say this – her newest home, shown in this month’s Architectural Digest is the antithesis of her previous homes.   It’s not pure modern, but it’s not her usual ode to the 18th century either.  But have no fears, I”m sure you will love it.  

Los Angeles:

The Rheinstein family home in Los Angeles.

Because the house is so large - even a very recent photoshoot for a book “City of Angeles, Houses and Gardens of Los Angeles”  could show images of rooms never seen before such as bathrooms and guest rooms.

Her house was one of the first to show how to use slipcovers, how they can be dressy, not always sloppy or casual but instead used in the finest of living rooms.

Her Los Angeles living room was seen in so many different fabrics and décor – it is amazing to see how many changes it went through and how it always remained chic and timeless.  Let’s start at the beginning:

A rare early photograph of Suzanne’s living room.  Her house is a collection of furniture from her husband’s parents NYC house and her own parent’s home in New Orleans.   The Recamier has remained a steady fixture in her living room.  The walls were later painted a light green and remained the same after all these years.   The mantel came from her husband’s parents NYC home.  The curtains seem a bit Victorian but they changed out for a more edited down version.


The newly redecorated room revealed new fabrics and a new layout.  This was her winter room décor.   The panels were once wallpaper in her parent’s house.  When her mother passed, each child received a few panels for their own home.   The serpent table was moved front and center.  The plain slipped chairs now wear chintz – just as her client’s do in the Virginian farmhouse. 


As you might guess, this was my all time favorite décor with the blue and white striped slipcovers.   HEAVENLY!

A fresh view.  Suzanne’s husband didn’t care for modern art, but she loved this piece.  She bought it with her own money, earned from her last job before becoming an interior designer!  It’s not hard to imagine Rheinstein being successful in another field!

After many summer seasons, these striped slips were now worse for wear, so, much needed new ones were made out of a Suzanne Rheinstein Lee Jofa fabric:

And the new fabric was revealed.


The same new Suzanne Rheinstein fabric for Lee Jofa used at Christmas.

And the view towards the fireplace. I do miss the stripes, I’m a sucker for stripes!  But, I have to admit this chintz has grown on me, too.

New York City:

With a married daughter and three granddaughters in NYC, the Rheinsteins bought an apartment there.  It was first published in Elle Décor and it immediately created a media sensation!!  Everyone was madly in love with her new space. I can’t stress how thoroughly loved this apartment was!!

Later it was seen on the cover of Suzanne’s first book.  What was the attraction?   The Bob Christian hand painted mural and floors,  or was it the delicate, feminine antiques such as these gilt chairs?


The entry was stunning with its mirror and sconces and painted floor and again – its feminine, beautiful antiques that Rheinstein curates so perfectly.

The small NYC apartment was exciting at every turn, even the vignette at seen at the end of a hall.   How to make the view from a hall to the back of a room more interesting? Use two columns in varying states of  peeling paint, two French chairs, an oversized mirror and a fabulous unusual planter.  No one does it better than Suzanne.


Life took a turn for Suzanne Rheinstein after the NYC apartment was completed.  Her beloved husband Frederic passed away in 2013.  Later, Rheinstein decided to close Hollyhock – her esteemed and very popular shop - after 30 years.   After a fall, she required surgery and a long recuperation.    Right out of surgery, she saw plans for a house in Montecito – a place where she had long wanted to own a vacation home.  The house had no architectural appeal,  it was bland and boring.   But it had fabulous views of the Santa Ynez mountains, something Rheinstein had always coveted. 

The highly talented NYC team of Bories & Shearron Architecture were hired to renovate the house. 

You might recall the work that this NYC architectural team did for Suzanne’s daughter Kate Brodsky on her pre-war Madison Avenue.  It was on the cover of Elle Décor, just as her mother’s own NYC apartment was.


Kate Rheinstein Brodsky’s beautiful apartment was recently put up for sale and the Brodskys have bought another apartment just five blocks away.  Kate told Paloma Contreras that the new apartment is an “estate” reproduction waiting to be completely updated.  Listen to Kate on Paloma’s podcast The Style Files,  HERE.

Next, Bories and Shearron spent three years working on a renovation of this 1901 house in East Hampton for Kate and her family.   This house is incredible.  It’s so original to the Hamptons and how it used to be, but it’s alien to what the Hamptons is today with its modern mega mansions. 

Another view of the 1901 house. 

How obvious is it yet that Kate is more daring than with color than her mother?  Yet, their styles seem so similar.


In the East Hampton family room, Kate had this 17’ sofa custom made.  I have to confess I am in LOVE with this room!!!!!!!

More photographs of this house are in Architectural Digest HERE.


Back in L.A., Bories & Shearron Architecture were hired to renovate the Montecito house that  Suzanne Rheinstein had purchased sight unseen.   The firm felt the house’s façade was representative of the Montecito Spanish style and it was in need of a complete redo to showcase its newly discovered roots.    When the house was at last finished and Rheinstein moved in, in 2019 she began sick again.   She recuperated at her new vacation spot with the gorgeous Santa Ynez mountains as a backdrop.    Today, she is stable and very happy,  loving her new getaway house even more than she had anticipated, staying longer there, weeks, rather than weekends, at a time.

The house is shown in the new Architectural Digest and at first glance you would not recognize it as a Rheinstein home.  It is more spare, more modern, less maxed out than her other homes.   For continuity, the walls are all painted the same beige, as are the ceilings and beams.  Those ceilings are now elevated and quite high, creating a magnificent architectural element.    The furnishings come from the corners of the globe – not just France or Italy. 

The house was designed just for Suzanne and her visiting granddaughters.  There is no dedicated dining room.  There will be no fancy dinner parties, instead it became a reading room with a custom Princess & the Pea mattress.   The master bedroom was once the guest room, changed because the view is so much better there. In the den she hung a flat screen over the mantle – for the first time.  This house is about Suzanne and for Suzanne, now that she is in a new chapter of her life.  It makes me wonder, will this new way of designing become the norm for her clients?

As for the house and gardens, it looked strangely familiar to me.  But why?  The back yard, with the pool and the view of Santa Ynez mountains reminded me of someone’s house, but whose???

Can you think of whose garden it resembles?

Suzanne’s New Montecito Backyard & Pool:

The new pool and landscaped yard in Suzanne’s Montecito home.  Does this remind you of someone else’s pool?

Yes, there it is!  I got out my file on John Saladino’s latest house in Montecito.  It’s located on a golf course in a gated community and it has the same view of the Santa Ynez mountain range as Suzanne’s does. 

Another view of John Saladino’s gorgeous backyard in Montecito.  I wrote about his house HERE.

It’s not wonder the houses seemed familiar, they are right across the fairway from each other.

While researching this story, I was lucky enough to find the original real estate photos of this house that Rheinstein bought.  And there are photos taken during construction from Instagram and Pinterest, which help flesh out the story of this house even more.  The changes her architects made to the house are amazing.  You will be awed by the talents of Bories and Shearron Architects.

Real Estate Photo:   Here is the side of the house on the golf course with the view of the Santa Ynez mountains.  John Saladino’s house is right across the fairway from here.


The architects could not alter the footprint of the house, but by changing the roof tiles, adding the front courtyard behind stone walls, changing the exterior to stucco – the house looks very authentic while keeping within the restrictive site requirements.     

And Today:   The renovated house as it looks now.  At the far left is the entry court and at the far right is the garage door.  The landscaping was completely cut back and tamed and then replanted.  Look carefully at the stone animals to the right of the door under the giant tree.   You’ll see them again soon!!!

AFTER:   Taken before move-in.  This shows the new front door and courtyard along with the gravel yard.

DURING:  Above is a side view of the front courtyard during construction.  The stone is getting its final limewash while the walls get more layers of stucco.

Inside, another room is getting a screened window.

The front door in blue, faces out.

But from the interior, it is deep beige with iron straps.


Real Estate Photo:  The living room.  This room overlooks the long hall that opens to the back courtyard and pool.   Modern fireplace, carpet, and low ceilings will all be addressed and removed by the architects, Bories & Shearron Architecture.

Photos for Architectural Digest by Laura Resen.

After:  The beautiful Suzanne Rheinstein designed living room.  It’s modern, yes, but it retains pieces of antiques that bring a coziness and warmth to the now tall room.  That vignette on the left with the antique console and chair – the console is gorgeous!  And on the right, is the 18th century chaise with a painted side table.  Long sofa with white fabric and large square contemporary coffee table brings up the modern vibe.   On the far right, rear, notice that tiny window.

At the fireplace wall is a set of Picasso prints, all framed the same.  What a quiet statement they make!!  Stunning. 

This room is at the front of the house and stretches to the swimming pool out back.   So in LOVE!!!!!

Before the Move-In:   The firebox with the slim herringbone profile!  What a change from before!  This is so beautiful!!!  These are actually roof tiles.


And the modern vignette with the standout light and table mixed with antique chairs and stools.  Notice the stone animals outside looking in!  Those were standing guard at the front door when we walked up!

Do you like the way I said “when we walked up?”  LOL.   I only wished I had an invitation to see this in person!!

This is that tiny window – a detail that says it all.  The metal screen adds so much authenticity and charm.


DURING:  I found this image on the architects Instagram page and thought it was so interesting to see how the living room came together during construction.  The beams were added when the ceilings were lifted.  And there is my favorite tiny window!  

After:   Before moving in, this photo shows the long hallway with the new hardwoods and raised ceilings, beams, along with the new doors that open to the pool/backyard.

  This stripped down view shows how important the new ceiling height and beams are to the architecture of the house.   At the right is the living room and the hall ends at the kitchen.

The house is basically an L shape.  The long and short arms of the L both open onto the luscious back courtyard and swimming pool. 

BEFORE:  The once dining room shown here was turned into a reading room/library for Suzanne and her three granddaughters.  The room once opened to the living room.  Interestingly, the fireplace remains basically the same. 

AFTER:   The dining room now reading room.  Instead of a couch there is a large Princess & the Pea custom mattress where Suzanne and her three granddaughters lounge and read books together.  The architects left the fireplace basically the same, except for the cut out skylight.  Today, the ceiling was raised which doesn’t necessitate that cutout anymore.

Just like the remainder of the house, the walls are a warm beige while the floors are light beige.  The Princess & the Pea mattress is placed to allow for the beautiful views of the backyard and the mountains to be seen.

Before:   The kitchen was contemporary for the 1970s but it looks just dated for today.

AFTER:  Before move-in, the basalt island dominates the kitchen as does the 1960s vintage light fixture.  

Today:     The light fixture is 1960s – from a restaurant!  The island is basalt.  The island’s sink looks out towards the pool.

Here is the view from the kitchen island.  Notice that urn and pedestal.  Gorgeous!

The same view as above, set up now for an outdoors lunch.  Those mountains make such a majestic backdrop.

The flower room with its zinc countertop – this room would be just at home on a chic farm as it is on the golf course!


  The guest room is the most charming!  Notice how the custom headboard fits the window so perfectly!  Antique painted side tables, and a wonderful settee under a tapestry add a coziness to the room.   So Suzanne Rheinstein!

But it’s the master bedroom that is the most fabulous.  A French settee sits next to the canopy bed dressed in a blush fabric.  The chintz softly pops the room.  Through the door on the left is the hallway to the living areas,  and on the right is the bathroom.

The windows overlook the pool.

LOVE THIS SO MUCH!!!!   Walking into the bedroom, you are greeted by these two wonderful tufted chairs and the oversized ottoman, along with the column, the sconce, the armoire.   Again, so Suzanne.


 Before.  Could it be anything other than a complete teardown?

Yes, it was an total teardown.  Today, the master bathroom matches a modern tub with more antiques.  The doors open to a private courtyard hidden from the street.  Notice there is a fountain here. 

And the beautiful Suzanne sits in the bathroom courtyard by the fountain.


Before:  The pool was round!  And notice that there is a wall behind the pool that totally blocks off so much of the garden!!!!  What a bad design!!!  You will see how much more space is utilized when that wall is removed.

BEFORE:   And another view of the garden, before!   This shows the right side of the yard.

DURING:   I found this on Instagram – courtesy of Suzanne’s IG – and it really intrigued me so much.  After a rainstorm, she took this photo of the backyard with the house and trees reflected in the puddles.   You can see where the new pool is marked off by yellow tape.  AND notice that the wall is now gone and you can already see how much bigger the courtyard will appear.

During:  This shows the center of the L.  The living room/reading room/kitchen are on the left of the L, while at the right past the fireplace is the master bedroom.  Below is how it looks today!

Here is the same area, AFTER.  That’s the master bedroom at the far right and the hall that leads to it is at the first and second doors.   The landscaping was done by Nancy Goslee Power.  What a talent!  The landscaping completes the house.  

Notice the built in seating at the corner with the fireplace.  This must be the warmest place to sit on a windy night!

Closeup of the vignette at the corner fireplace.  The two chairs sit by the fireplace.  I love all the wicker pieces used throughout that house.

DURING:   Looking at the pool under construction. You can see the long arm of the L where from the left is the kitchen, reading room, and living room. 

And here is the finished garden by Nancy Goslee Power.  Could it be prettier?  No. 

The bed behind the pool, no longer hidden behind the old wall.


I have spent such a long time on this story because I didn’t want it to end.  I loved examining every nook and cranny, trying to figure out its floor plan.   I hope you enjoyed seeing the before, after, and during photos of this project which makes it easier to navigate the house.

I loved watching the “new” Suzanne Rheinstein at work, using her skills to bring more modernity into her design, but also, not forsaking the antiques and femininity and hand craftsmanship that have been such a part of her aesthetic.   I like the touch of contemporary that she mixes into her new look, for instance in this corner vignette in the living room:

I am just awed by Suzanne Rheinstein’s new look.  It proves you don’t have to go full out modern to keep up with the trend.  This room would be a classic with or without those modern touches but it is those touches which makes it attractive to both those older and younger.

Finally, if you want to order Suzanne’s books, just click on the photo below. Until next time!!


This first book is out of print so check the prices before buying!!!