Anne Hathaway’s Swiss chalet-style residence is precisely that: a chalet-style, meaning wood is in abundance – but no space accentuates this material quite like the living room.
The actress’s home, formerly owned by Yves Saint Laurent and Wes Anderson, brings a hint of Alpine beauty to the Sunshine State – and with that comes a blend of decorating quirks that tap into European timelessness and Californian chic. The wooden living room epitomizes this aesthetic – with wall paneling and a wooden ceiling creating a cocooning cabin space.
Designed by Los Angeles’s Studio Shamshiri, the room comes complete with a custom table, vintage armchair, and a 1940s Turkish rug that injects a subtle amount of color into the otherwise dark space. This look favors the bold, but it’s by no means a new way of decorating – and designers say it will continue long into the future.
‘Wood brings a natural warmth and richness to a space. When used on both walls and ceiling, it wraps the living room in a cocoon of comfort, creating a sanctuary that feels both intimate and expansive,’ says designer Nicholas Kaiko.
Examples of wooden wall decor date back to the 13th century, when King Henry III imported wood from Norway and used it to line his rooms at Windsor Castle. In centuries that followed, decorative paneling evolved into a form of fine art – but it is still used in rustic spaces (like this one), too.
But why have wood panels stood the test of time? Nicholas explains its enduring appeal comes down to three factors: its texture and depth, acoustic benefits, and unrivaled versatility.
Nicholas Kaiko, founder of Kaiko Design Interiors, is a highly sought-after interior designer based in Sydney, Australia. With over a decade of experience in the interior design industry, Nic has honed his skills as an interior architect and decorator, working on luxury hotels and high-end residential projects both locally and internationally.
‘Wooden panels add tactile interest and a sense of depth to the room – especially with finishes like wire-brushed, cerused, and stained wood where the grain becomes more pronounced. This makes the space feel dynamic and layered, a play of shadows and light accentuating the room’s character,’ Nicholas says.
In terms of its acoustics, the designer explains how the material absorbs specific sound frequencies, ensuring the living room has a comfortable ambiance devoid of echoing. ‘A room should feel good, not just look good. Wood helps achieve this equilibrium, balancing aesthetics with auditory comfort,’ he adds.
‘Lastly, wood provides a versatile canvas. Whether painted, stained in vibrant hues, or left natural, it can adapt to various design aesthetics, from rustic to contemporary.’
To get the look, we should follow Anne Hathaway’s lead and invest in bouclé pieces (and other soft furnishings) to balance the hardwood.
‘Also introduce plush rugs, upholstered furniture, and soft drapery,’ he says. ‘These elements will contrast beautifully with the wood, enhancing its natural charm and aiding in sound absorption.’
We’re buying our way into the room with these Hathaway-inspired picks below.