The dramatic terrain rises from the rocky, windswept shoreline of the Monterey Peninsula and undulates along shimmering dunes, acres of golf course greens for which the region is duly famous, and forest wilderness dense with cypress and pine. A pair of obelisk garden sculptures, leggy iron planters ( Dennis & Leen ), and hanging lanterns give the limestone entry hall the feel of a chic solarium. “I loved growing up here—it’s such a beautiful area,” says Skinner, recalling a childhood spent on the golf course and in the Lodge, getting autographs from actors like Telly Savalas and James Garner. “When I first walked into this home, it felt heavy and drab, and everything was yellow, like it was from a couple of decades earlier,” says megawatt decorator Mary McDonald, whom the pair hired to conjure a more modern interpretation of gracious California living.
Well known for her sure-minded sensibility and exuberant personality, the designer brought a fresh femininity to the faded American château—one that matched the northern California resort town’s urbane presence. To tame the ballroom-size living room, the designer devised three separate seating areas, punctuating each with a different rug, contrasting a leather-trimmed, diamond-patterned sisal with a contemporary Khotan carpet and a rustic cowhide.
A custom folding screen covered in a Gracie Studio paper helps make a seating area in the palatial living room feel more intimate. But as the real focal point is the ocean views, she selected clean-lined pieces, including a nine-foot-high four-poster bed of her own design, “without any colorful noise,” she says.
“It’s very cohesive—not heavy-handed or overdone.” The sole visual extravagance in the room is an enormous gilded bronze chandelier that pays homage to both the home’s original Gallic influences and McDonald’s innate sense of glamour.