Homes by Design Part II
The most beautiful interiors, design tips and inspiration.
A home from home
Wondering what makes a onefinestay home so special? We interviewed Stephen Haskell, our General Manager for America, about which design details make a house feel more homely and how to create an inviting space that guests will love.
What do you do at onefinestay, what’s your relationship with interiors?
"I am the General Manager for America, based in New York. I have always had a passion for interior design and dipped in and out of it professionally. After college, I ran a boutique wallpaper design firm; later, I worked at One Kings Lane. One of the reasons I joined onefinestay was the homes themselves - the idea of being able to stay in a private, beautiful home and step into someone’s thoughtfully designed world is endlessly compelling to me."
Our guests love staying in homes that are unique and feel personal. Do you have any advice for homeowners on how to turn their house into a home?
"Landscaping is a huge opportunity to make a home special, especially in cities like Los Angeles that have abundant space. I am obsessed with the way Marmont Avenue is landscaped. The house is perched on top of a hill in West Hollywood. The drive up the hill is dramatic, but when you arrive at the front door the house is very unassuming - a charming Nantucket style home. Only when you walk through the home’s back patio do you see the most incredible back yard unfolding before you. It feels like a secret garden worthy of a Slim Aarons photo shoot - unexpected and breathtaking."
"I love a strong colour story. When wall colour, furniture, art, and decor all come together in an interesting way, it makes such an impact. In New York, for example, this NoMad Townhouse room combines a teal-y, robbins’ egg blue with a raspberry pink, with touches of brown and gold. It’s actually so simple but so inviting and warm."
"Art may be the single element, in my opinion, that makes a house into a home. Choosing what to hang on a wall is so personal - the wall is literally an empty canvas waiting for a point of view. There are so many fantastic and varied art collections in the onefinestay portfolio, but SoHo Gallery Townhouse is truly extraordinary, as the home is layered with artwork from a very well known artist who is personally connected to the homeowner. Room after room has original artwork, many pieces on oversized canvases, incorporating mixed media, thick paint, and large, gestural strokes. The artwork and the home are inseparable; it’s a very special home."
Do you have any practical tips for making a home guest-friendly?
"The advice I always give homeowners is to look at their home from the perspective of a guest seeing it for the first time. We are all so familiar with our own homes, but what would you look for if you were staying there while traveling? Storage space is an important issue for virtually any traveler. Our Commercial teams work with homeowners to be sure there will be enough space for guests to tuck away their belongings. Another practical issue is accidental breakage. If you have a priceless object that would break your heart if it were broken - best to just store that away. Even the most responsible guests with the best of intentions can make mistakes; we're all human."
What's your take on family photographs in a rental?
"I think a sprinkling can be great. It’s the homeowners personality that makes a home special and unique: at onefinestay, guests should feel a story behind the home, a person and a point of view behind the home, which makes it different from a corporate apartment or an 'out of the box' hotel room. When I am a guest and I see a small array of personal photographs, they fuel that imaginary story I inevitably have going in my mind about who the homeowners are and what this home’s story is. Of course, though, there is a limit. If a home is plastered with photographs documenting every moment of their lives, it would take away from the guest’s experience."
Can you share an example of a onefinestay home that perfectly balances personality with style and comfort?
"Hollywood Hills Oasis is pretty much perfection in my book. Nestled up in the hills on a stunning perch, it both references history and is totally modern at the same time. I love that the kitchen has vintage elements, while the photography is really contemporary. Every detail is intentional: the fabulous floors, the gardens, the outdoor spaces. The home feels very classic old Hollywood, which makes me want to drink an espresso and write a screenplay. But in the way it layers stylistic elements, it also feels unique to a particular homeowner with fantastic personal taste. It’s a unique, authentic home, not just a reductive Pinterest board come to life."
Unlock the key in creating a chic oasis in your living room with Jen Pinkston for you and your guests to enjoy.
Uncover design secrets in achieving a California-inspired look at home with designer Laura Butler-Madden.
Check out our favourite wallpaper competition entries
Thank you to our globetrotting community! We had an overwhelming number of entries to our travel inspired wallpaper competition. Take a look to see our favourite entries plus our top recommendations if you're dreaming of faraway destinations.
The place to be, Jemma’s favourite homes and villas
British interior design aficionado Jemma Cowen works closely with us on exceptional design projects commissioned by our London homeowners. She specialises in an array of projects from top-end loft conversions to grade 1 listed Regency homes. From a business trip in London to hanging out with friends in Mexico, read on to find out why she loves our homes so much.
Mexico with Friends at Casa Tres Soles
"The uninterrupted ocean views from the utterly breathtaking oval shaped terrace, leaves me speechless. I cannot imagine a more beautiful spot to sit with friends and enjoy a margarita. There’s plenty to keep everyone entertained from the curving infinity pool, the private beach, tennis court, pool volleyball, home theatre, gym and kayaks! The interior design is both modern and fresh, whilst feeling homely, with many traditional touches. This is an exceptional villa and the perfect place to relax and unwind with your closest friends."
Los Angeles with Family at Bienveneda Avenue
"A family trip to Los Angeles is all about the miles of long sandy beaches and dolphin spotting with my daughter. The location of this home in the Pacific Palisades is perfect for that. The home itself is stunning, so bright and light and the children’s bedrooms would certainly keep them entertained. The garden is heaven, with a stunning heated pool and an outdoor kitchen more impressive than most people’s indoor kitchens! This home really has it all, an amazing location (close to the beach, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills), beautiful interior design and the most perfect outside space for a family holiday. Sign me up!"
London Business Trip at Sloane Gardens VI
"One of the best addresses in London, this home in Sloane Gardens is in my favourite part of the city. It’s not only central with easy access to anywhere you need to be, it has the best restaurants, shops and architecture in London right on your doorstep. I love the floor to ceiling windows throughout the home and the original features are truly stunning. The interior design is traditional and homely, perfect for this style of property. This home is the ideal place to come back to after a long day in the city, you’ll find me either on the balcony with a gin and tonic or in front of the beautiful fireplace with a glass of wine."
Our favourite books on interiors
Looking for some further reading? Here are books to spur on some creativity around the home.
Interior design basics - Easy to follow advice from legendary paint manufacturer Farrow and Ball.
Farrow & Ball: How to Decorate
Keeping things neat and tidy - simple and easy to follow guidance in organising your home.
Pure design inspiration - Some source inspiration from interior design guru Mad About the House.