A Los Altos family’s modern-day music room serves as a reprieve from the chaos of everyday life.
A folding chair by Ann Getty House Collection, covered in Tigertooth fabric by Jane Shelton, sits at an 1880s French Louis XVI desk. The dark green lamp is by Christopher Spitzmiller.
While media rooms and home theaters are oftentimes at the top of a homeowner’s wish list, there’s a small contingent that yearns for the Victorian-era rooms of yore. Such was the case for Carly and Robin Vasan, a busy Los Altos Hills-based couple with three young children, who enlisted designer Heather Hilliard to create a modern-day music room in their new home.
“After living in the house for a while, the couple knew they wanted a room where they could listen to music and store their vintage vinyl collection and antique books,” Hilliard says. The inspiration behind the room came from Carly’s grandfather Marlo. “He had a fairly good-sized collection of swing and big band records that he would listen to on his headphones in his music room,” Carly explains. “I’ve inherited his love of music as well as his record collection when I was about 18. I’ve always been specific about what I collect—I only collect music that I love.”
A custom wallcovering by Iksel Decorative Arts sets the tone for this Los Altos Hills music room. Seating is plentiful, with Madame Gres Bergere armchairs from Jonas covered in a resplendent Fortuny velvet.
The clients’ vision for the space—luxurious and evocative, and sophisticated yet approachable—comes to life though Hilliard’s deft design. “We collaborated with the clients to create a luxurious, comfortable layered room,” she says. “Given the house is Mediterranean style, we were all in agreement that the new deign would have to feel timeless to fit the architectural context of the house.”
To connect with the Vasans’ lush yard that can be seen through French doors in the room, Hilliard used a custom-printed scenic wallcovering from Iksel Decorative Arts. “The style Hindustan is described by Iksel as ‘an evocative fantasy landscape of pre-Raj India, imbued with a sense of whimsy and nostalgia,” says Hilliard of the pattern, which is based on archived, handpainted panels. “The ethereal wallpaper as well as Kashmiri side tables are nods to my husband’s Indian heritage,” adds Carly. Although the mural has many interesting scenes featuring elephants, tigers and more, a rich, neutral palette keeps it from looking busy.
Hilliard reupholstered the clients’ existing couch in a deep teal mohair from Opuzen and chose a custom diamond striped wool rug from Holland & Sherry for underfoot.
Antique furniture in warm wood tones and luxurious materials like mohair, velvet, silk, stamped leather from Italy and antiqued brass keep the space looking layered and elegant, but not fussy. “I love antiques; however, I worry about walking into a room where you can’t sit down anywhere,” Carly says. “The furniture pieces had to be usable. I wanted there to be a combination of old and new pieces, and I didn’t want any clutter.”
Homeowner Carly Vasan
Getting to the finish line—a short eight weeks before Carly and Robin’s third child was born—went smoothly, but there were some challenges due to the room’s asymmetrical shape. “Using a scenic wallpaper in this room was extremely challenging given the shape of the room and the area where the walls meet the curved ceiling,” says Hilliard. “Given the angles and the vaulted ceiling, being able to customize heights and cuts of the panels was the success to the layout.”
A 19th century Baroque giltwood mirror floats above an 18th century Italian Bombe chest.
A dark walnut French Louis XV carved Fauteuil armchair from 1stdibs accompanies a vintage Aldo Tura bar cart from the ’60s.
Luckily, everything fell into place and worked out beautifully. In addition to its intended purpose—a place to read, listen to music, write letters and enjoy a glass of Champagne or a cocktail—the room has come alive in some other ways. “It’s been very unexpected and surprising to see my children, particularly my son, gravitate toward the room,” says Carly. “I will find him curled up on the mohair couch listening to Nat King Cole and I just think to myself that we all, no matter our age, long for a quiet, beautiful place to be alone with our thoughts.” It’s also transportative. “There is so much depth, history and culture to be immersed in,” Carly continues. “It’s a work of art and so marvelous from every angle, in every way. Being in it, I feel complete. I feel grounded. I feel nostalgic, [but] mostly I feel blessed.”
Photography by: David Duncan Livingston