CIRCA Haines

Jul 10, 2012 | Designs and Designers

William Haines

Charles William “Billy” Haines (1900-1973) was a legendary Hollywood film star turned interior designer whose high style and glamorous interiors raised the bar of 20th Century design.  William Haines changed the look of Hollywood with his unmistakable style and redefined the way movie stars lived.


via William Haines Designs

Born in Staunton, Virginia, William Haines left home in 1914 and opened a dance club in the boomtown of Hopewell, Va.  By 1916 he was living in New York and in 1922 won the “New Faces” talent contest sponsored by Samuel Goldwyn.  He moved to Hollywood under contract with MGM and became one of Hollywood’s leading men in silent films and later “talkies.”  He appeared in over 50 films and was the number one box office star of 1930.  William Haines was Hollywood’s first openly gay leading man.  His film career was cut short in 1933 when studio head Louis B. Mayer gave Haines an ultimatum to choose between a studio arranged sham marriage to save his career or his life partner, Jimmie Shields.  Haines chose Shields and the two remained together for nearly 50 years.  Friend and client, Joan Crawford, described the pair as “the happiest married couple in Hollywood.”

William Haines first interior design was his own home in 1927.  His bold mix of antiques of various periods with modern pieces was the stage for many elite Hollywood parties.  Haines received so much attention for his taste and style that he was inspired to open an antique shop with his personal finds in 1930, while still under MGM contract.  His friends and colleagues were so impressed with his taste in design that they hired him to decorate their own homes.  William Haines soon became the most sought after decorator of the Hollywood elite.


Joan Crawford’s Living Room via William Haines Designs

William Haines clientele include Joan Crawford, Carole Lombard, Gloria Swanson, George Cukor, Jack Warner, Frank Sinatra, Alfred & Betsy Bloomingdale, Ronald & Nancy Regan, and Walter & Leonore Annenberg, among many others.


via William Haines Designs

William Haines’ signature style incorporated custom-made modern furnishings and period antiques with touches of Chinoiserie and exotic artifacts in a glamorous mix that would retrospectively become known as Hollywood Regency style.  Haines’ interiors were designed for entertaining.  He created intimate scale in a grand room with low sofas, tables and ottomans and plentiful occasional seating for ease of conversational settings at parties.  The centerpieces of Haines’ interiors were his custom designs including tufted sofas, iconic chairs –the Seniah, the Elbow, the Pull Up and the Hostess, tables, objects d’art lamps, lighting and accessories.  Haines hired talented local artists, craftsmen and workshops to produce his one of a kind custom pieces.  It is difficult to quantify the number of furniture pieces Haines created over his 40 year career because each piece was specially crafted per client and most of his work still remains with the original owners.

 Inspired Reading…


How do you CIRCA WHO?


via Architectural Digest

via William Haines Designs

via William Haines Design

via William Haines Designs


via William Haines Designs

via William Haines Designs

Chairs via Elle Decor


Chair via Elle Decor


Chairs via Elle Decor


via William Haines Designs

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TV: SamsungChair: Palecek, in Peter Fasano fabricLight: Shades from the Midnight SunWallcovering: Schumacher (foyer).


Every appliance is concealed by painted paneling. Counter stools: Artistic FramePendants: Weplight, with Radish Moon fabricBacksplash: Tiles of Ezra.

Breakfast nook

Bowman chose a seafoam green for the spot where the family enjoys casual meals. Wallcovering: Phillip JeffriesChandelier: Julie NeillChairs: Design Within Reach, in Pierre Frey fabricTable: custom.

Dining Room

Bunk Room

Bowman turned a tiny space into a spare bedroom for the children’s friends. Floor tile: Mirth StudioWallcovering: ThibautPaint: Cloud White (trim, bunks) and In Your Eyes (ceiling), Benjamin Moore.

Girl’s Room

The room was decorated so that (optimistically) it will last through her teen years. Paint: Sprout, Sherwin-WilliamsWallcovering: Pacific Designs International (ceiling). Nightstand: Chelsea TextilesSconces: PalecekCurtains: Lisa Fine TextilesBedding: MatoukBed: Coley Home.

Primary Bathroom


Painted cement tile by Sabine Hill and Perennials performance fabric can withstand post-pool hangouts. Paint: Marry Me (cabinets), Benjamin MooreWallcovering: Pacific Designs InternationalSofa: vintage.


Pool House

Shutters painted in Pink Cloud by Benjamin Moore are a subtle departure from the neighboring homes—yet still wholly Floridian.