Horse Play

Posted online: January 2012


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By Holly Richmond, photographs by Danica Perez

Yolanda Hadid is the definition of a Renaissance woman. This multi-talented mother and designer, a trend-savvy woman with a vast knowledge of and passion for antiques and history, likes to continually surprise and delight with her style choices. Her home in Montecito is no exception. “I call this my luxury farmhouse,” she says. “It’s a blend of old and new with elegant touches in a practical setting, which is perfect for three horse-crazy kids and a busy single mom.”Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 11.55.15 AM

Stepping through the home’s gated entrance into a piazza, past an antique horse carriage overflowing with flowers, visitors are greeted by a bucolic scene that includes an aged farmstead. In a way, the home is the embodiment of a dream Yolanda had 20 years earlier. Discovered by a modeling scout from Eileen Ford Agency at the age of 15 in her native Holland, Yolanda traveled the world and lived in places as varied as London, Milan, Paris, Tokyo and Sydney. A photo shoot brought her to Santa Barbara in the early 1980s, and she remembers thinking if she ever lived in America this would be the place. While modeling delayed her Santa Barbara fantasy, requiring that she first live in New York and most recently Los Angeles, she now says this truly feels like home. “When choosing this house I knew it was the place my children would grow up. We’re about dusty riding clothes and muddy boots, not dressing up. Formality and having things on a grand scale was our old life in Los Angeles. This home and keeping things in perspective is our new life here,” she explains.Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 2.21.39 PM

Yolanda and her three children, Gigi, 9, Bella, 7, and Anwar, 5, have thrived on this beautiful property since the renovation was complete nearly two years ago by Hadid Development, an L.A. based construction company run by her former husband, Mohamed Hadid, former developer and proprietor of the Ritz-Carlton hotels. The property was sectioned off from a large equestrian estate; Yolanda and her children reside in what was once the horse trainer’s quarters. With Yolanda’s inspired vision and design skill, the home has been transformed into an old-world style European villa, complete with every family-friendly, contemporary feature imaginable.

This was hardly Yolanda’s first home renovation or design endeavor. She worked for several years with Hadid Development, and during that period she began her own interior design business, Hadid Interiors. “This time of my life is about raising kids not traveling the world for clients,” she explains, though she still runs Hadid Interiors. That said, Yolanda enjoys frequent trips with her children to Europe and the east coast on shopping adventures. The mix of elegant European antiques with family photos, rustic equestrian details and precious flea market finds make her house exactly what Yolanda had envisioned—a place to laugh, love and live the American dream.

Most of the family’s time is spent in the kitchen and family room where they meet each evening for dinner. Although Yolanda claims to be less than stellar in the kitchen, she and the kids always have fun there. “Last night’s menu included peeling potatoes and cutting them into silly shapes to make French fries,” she laughs. And what better place to indulge every sensation from taste bud to a feast for the eyes? The kitchen boasts a custom-made, golden-hued marble island where traditional pottery from Holland holds delectables including lemons, onions, hearty rye loaves and Dutch shortbread cookies, all watched over by a pair of hand-sewn ducks. Yolanda’s favorite items in the kitchen include the hand-painted sink, which is from Holland and features an early 20th century design, and her collection of antique plates in Delft blauw—Dutch blue—that illustrate the four seasons.Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 2.21.07 PM

Gathering family for meals is just one of the traditions that Yolanda embraces from her European upbringing; the heart of those traditions is togetherness. Her design philosophy is based on large, conjoined rooms that offer unobstructed views from one area to the next. Expansive hand-carved archways join nearly every room in the home, crafted by a team of builders Yolanda has grown to trust over the years. “They are truly artists,” she remarks. “I can draw anything and they will perfectly recreate it on cabinets, ceilings, drawers or wherever I think extra detail is necessary,” she adds. The effect is a dance for the eye from one extraordinary design element to the next. From the intricately carved refrigerator door façade and stove vent to the stable-inspired mudroom bench complete with storage areas for spurs, crops, riding hats and saddle blankets, every detail is considered. “I love subtle imperfections in natural materials,” Yolanda says. “There are color variations in the marble backsplash above the stove and I chose different sized boards for the floor. They create an aged, lived-in look and it’s those things that make a house feel like a home.”Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 2.42.41 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-02 at 2.22.06 PM

Even amongst a utopia of lush fabrics, unique accessories and antique furniture, including a piano from the early 1700s, it’s impossible to overlook the home’s stunning ceilings. “The sky’s the limit” was Yolanda’s design maxim, evidenced by the attention to what lies above. The ceilings in the foyer and family room are hand-carved, in-laid wood panels from an 1800s French chateau, and the dining room ceiling is from an early 20th century Russian theater floor made of Bavarian walnut panels. Wall columns and built-in shelving, as well as the ceiling and massive fireplace in the living room, were carved on site to carry through the floral and geometric patterns in the antique ceiling panels.

While the house proudly displays distinctive formal features, its overriding theme is one of homey comfort; though “overriding”[AWK may be an understatement – bad pun?]. “I grew up riding and my children are practically obsessed with horses,” Yolanda remarks. The girls’ bedroom linens feature a mix of plaid and florals in different color ways that lend a rustic flair, while details like saddles and horse statuettes offer something equine at every glance. The master suite is more feminine to suit Yolanda’s taste, featuring a mix of paisley fabrics and vintage lace.

If the children aren’t in the family room, their bedrooms, or at the stables in Goleta, they’re most likely in the kid-friendly yard. Gigi and Bella often have lunch in the play house, while Anwar can be found jumping on the trampoline. The entire family enjoys the pool that Yolanda designed to be reminiscent of the beach. “With the gradual incline from the yard, the kids never have to jump in,” she explains. A mandarin orange tree was also planted with the children in mind, but the gardens reflect Yolanda’s sensibilities—varied and colorful with unexpected discoveries.

The Hadid house is indeed the embodiment of the modern American dream with an old-world European twist. It’s provincial yet elegant, new yet well worn. But most importantly, it’s home.Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 2.22.23 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-02 at 2.22.49 PM

[DEC/JAN 2005]

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