William Haines: Halcyon Days of Hollywood

Designer William “Billy” Haines (1900-1973) was a classic renaissance man. Beginning his career as an actor in the early days of Hollywood, Haines with his boy-next-door good looks, starred in many films both silent and sound, becoming the number-one box office star of 1930. After leaving the film industry in 1936, he opened an antique store and went on to become one of Hollywood’s premier decorators, working friends and acquaintances from his influential circle of celebrities and bon vivants.

Haines was known for his interest in how people truly live, not just decorating for snob appeal. He and his team of designers created sleek, classic pieces that were low profile, functional yet elegant. His best friend and client Betsy Bloomingdale stated, “he designed all of my pieces low to the floor. That way people were grander, not the furniture.” In a bold move for the time, he dared to create an all-white living room, then took a 360 and generously splashed bright, brilliant colors through the home of Carole Lombard.

Haines designed interiors for the home of Ronald and Nancy Reagan while he was governor of California. In a prized commission, he was chosen as the interior designer (along with Ted Graber) for Walter and Leonore Annenberg’s estate, Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage. This spectacular mid-century modern estate designed by architect A. Quincy Jones was known for its pink roof and has been frequented throughout the years by both political leaders and celebrities alike.

William Haines Malibu Chair and Ottoman

Capturing the essence of California living, The Malibu Chair and Ottoman originally designed in 1950, is the perfect pairing for quintessential outdoor elegance. The powder-coated steel frame is upholstered in a white rayon blend, can be used indoors or out, and has been re-issued through williamhaines.com.

william billy haines sofa

This stunning statement piece, known as The Valentine Sofa, showcases Haines’ mastery of sleek, sexy, functional design. This sofa with a low tufted seat and leather-wrapped arm either in right or left orientation was first introduced in 1950 and lucky for us is currently still in production through williamhaines.com.  

Be Bold! This pair of William Haines carved horse head lamps will be a conversation starter in any Modern or Hollywood Regency style home. The stately pair of equestrians in a dark cerused oak finish, are highlighted by a pair of gold foil-lined silk shades, creating a warm ambient glow.

Spectacular pair of brass and orange leather armchairs highlighting Haines’ unique ability to create show-stopping furniture that was low in profile, sculptural yet still beautiful and functional, c. 1955.

A fine example of Haines’ flair for the unexpected. The Bamboo Desk was originally created for his best friend Betsy Bloomingdale in 1959. The white leather desk is highlighted by the wrap-around faux bamboo detailing and is again available through williamhaines.com.

William Haines Mapleton Club

Lush, plush and sophisticated, Haines’ Mapleton Club chair makes an elegant statement while being approachable. Originally designed in 1950, the frame is upholstered in a luxe bouclé fabric. The reissued chair is available through williamhaines.com and shows the world why we love everything “Billy!”

Looking for a Classic Los Angeles home to showcase these amazing William Haines designed pieces? Our city is home to many architecturally significant Mid-Century ModernSpanish, Craftsman homes and Luxury Estates. Visit Beyond Shelter for more Designed Living ideas to create your LA story.