A California Lifestyle Rooted in Tradition
Family-focused designer Wendy Bellissimo cultivates an earthy, laid-back vibe in her sophisticated Hidden Hills home
For someone who grew up in Connecticut, Wendy Bellissimo sure does seem like a California girl at heart. Two decades, four daughters, and countless eponymous business ventures on the West Coast have given her definitive roots in the area; eight years ago, she and her husband, Joe, built their home in Hidden Hills, Los Angeles, near the periphery of a nature preserve. To complement the pristine landscape, the designer steeped her house in a timeless sense of well-being. “I wanted it to have a relaxed sensibility with a certain amount of sophistication—a place where you walk in and feel ease and comfort,” she says.
The connection between indoors and out makes up a large part of the appeal. The family eats outdoors as often as possible and keeps the entrances of their home open, fostering an airy mood that influences the decor. To cultivate an aura of laid-back luxury in a new-construction residence, Bellissimo left the ceiling beams exposed and selected wide-plank hardwood flooring, stone fireplace mantels, and reclaimed materials throughout. The result is a richly layered, evocative environment that befits a down-to-earth clan (as well as their pack of four pups and three chickens, plus a horse, bunny rabbit, and cat).
The designer is so entrenched in the California lifestyle that it inspires her various collections, which range from maternity wear and baby and kids’ apparel to furniture and home textile lines. A sweater, for example, riffs on the pattern of one of her throw pillows. “There’s an underlying hippie-ish, bohemian quality to the home that you don’t pick up on right when you enter,” she explains. “I think the designs start sinking in as you walk around.” A child of the ’70s, she scattered succulents and macramé pieces around the house to add to the naturalistic setting and act as visual reminders of her formative years.
Seeking to give her kids warm memories of their own, Bellissimo made the decision for them to share two bedrooms. Gracie, Cecilia, Willow, and Marlie are close in age, ranging from 10 to 15 years old, and have common creative interests. Upon moving in, their mother designed four-poster beds with carved headboards representing each girl’s nickname. She also created custom sconces and lovingly hand-beaded chandeliers. The soft furnishings are from Bellissimo’s textile lines, which include her newest window-treatment and by-the-yard collaboration with Smith & Noble. “Designing is a huge challenge when kids share a room,” she admits. But for her, the lessons in compromise and tolerance are invaluable.
Downstairs, the master bedroom has also seen an update, though the couple still sleeps in the same bed purchased when they got married. The latest fabrics from Bellissimo’s line prompted them to make some small adjustments. “I was so in love with my new window treatments coming in,” she says. She reined in brighter colors and added natural tones and textures, lighter linens, crocheted blankets, and batik patterns. The space now boasts the most blatantly bohemian vibe in the house.
The free-spirited family dedicated a portion of their living room to an extensive collection of musical instruments. “They are played, but sadly, not by me!” Bellissimo says with a laugh. In the nearby dining room, two armchairs are upholstered with vintage batik fabric that Bellissimo cut up and sewed together. The sideboard is a century-old antique from Asia that the designer topped with honed white Italian marble.
Though she has made some edits recently, Bellissimo doesn’t often change things up around her home. She’s not one to switch her decor for the seasons, particularly given the temperate Southern California weather. In her interior design work, she also encourages clients to make selections only when they’re absolutely enthralled with the options. She wants them to feel equally passionate about their surroundings, and she joyously dispenses that philosophy to clients and customers. “Once I find something I love,” she says, “I stick with it.”