soane had an early 19th-century neoclassical Russian chair
and sofa upholstered in a subtle dragonfly patterned silk. facing
page: The walnut armoire ( 1) in the entry hall has intricate
carvings reminiscent of the home’s historic woodwork. An English
Regency gilt daybed ( 2) in the living room is covered with a gold
tone-on-tone fabric. A gilded sunburst mirror ( 3) accents mother-of-pearl marquetry in the dining room. A 19th-century French
vitrine ( 4) is an example of trois boule, an imitation of Napoleonic
furniture decoration featuring dark wood, tortoiseshell
marquetry, and gold leaf details.
an assortment of Louis XV and Louis XVI furniture from the
West Coast residence. Soane is a hands-on decorator and all
the curtains and pillows in the room — and throughout the
house — were stitched in her third-floor sewing room.
In the mahogany-paneled dining room, window valances
allow maximum light into the gracious oval space. Two Italian chandeliers hang over the 12½-by-4-foot table embellished with ormolu. The piece has an interesting provenance:
although in the style of Louis XV, the early 19th-century
mahogany table is from Cuba. To fill out the dining room
seating, Soane chose six beloved 19th-century Russian chairs
that the couple already owned and had four reproductions
The conservatory, where the Websters once housed their
prized orchid collection, opens to both the dining and living
rooms. Elements such as mirrored walls, fancy lattice ceiling,
and decorative tiles are original to the house, and Soane has
turned the space into a cozy sitting room by adding 19th-cen-
tury Russian furniture and a wall-to-wall sisal rug.
Upstairs, she replaced a 1950s tub in the master bath
with a vintage model she bought at a New Hampshire salvage yard. She found just the right faucets and showerheads
online from a source in Los Angeles. The bathroom floor
was missing portions of its small hexagonal tiles. “These are
not only difficult to find but hard to reclaim
for more because they were set in mortar,” says Soane.
see “Fortuitously, my floor man was demolishing
resources an old bathroom that had the same tiles. He
knocked off the mortar one by one, and set them on our bathroom floor. In order to make them look as if the tiles were
original to the house, I diluted black paint and went over the
The master bedroom is largely furnished with pieces
from the Soanes’ California home. “My only purchases
were the two early 19th-century Louis XV nightstands that
I bought from a friend who had inherited them from her
grandmother,” says Soane. “They were a gift from heaven.
When you open the drawers, you can still smell the perfumed
cream her grandmother wore.”
Says Soane with satisfaction, “Recently, an old friend
was visiting from California. She told me, ‘Your furniture
works so much better here than it did in your old house.’ It
does. It feels very comfortable here and so do I.”
Zoya Soane favors a classic look that incorporates balance and
symmetry without a lot of clutter. A huge fan of shopping online,
she has found everything from inexpensive small shades for
sconces to a floor-to-ceiling 19th-century armoire. She even
used the Web to procure her two beloved pets, rescued dogs she
found through petfinder.com. The foundation of her design
philosophy is three-pronged:
start with antiques Soane is partial to 18th- and 19th-
century French pieces, but advises clients to follow their
instincts and select pieces that they like and that suit the
architecture of their particular home.
keep cherished pieces “A well-loved piece brings comfort and
personality into a room.” says Soane. For example, to make six
favorite 19th-century Russian chairs work with her 12½-foot-
long table, Soane had four reproductions made to match.
use restraint This is the most critical element for her interior
designs, and Soane edits each room carefully, adding and
subtracting elements until the total is just right. “Simply one
object — a plant, a chair, even a pillow — can make all the
difference,” she says.