Joanna Poitier has breathed life into the family abode with timeless grace and elegance, capturing the essence of the old-world charm that she and her celebrated husband, Sidney Poitier, deeply admire.
This piece finds its inspiration from an article published in the March 2008 edition of Traditional Home magazine.
While Sidney Poitier has cemented his status in the film industry with an Oscar, a knighthood, and a best-selling book, within the walls of their Beverly Hills residence, it’s Joanna who takes center stage. An accomplished interior designer, Joanna has transformed the house into a masterpiece of design.
Originally constructed in 1925, the house showcases the prevailing Mediterranean design of the period. Joanna has infused it with a design philosophy that blends old-world charm with the relaxed vibe of California. One can’t help but be drawn to the handcrafted window treatments – opulent silk and taffeta drapes gracefully cascading over bamboo blinds. This delicate balance between modern and classic aesthetics encapsulates the essence of Joanna’s distinctive design approach.
Her mantra is clear: “Elegance, but livable.” While she has an affection for gilded 18th-century furnishings, she insists they aren’t just for show. “Design doesn’t define me. My family does,” she emphasizes.
Upon their arrival, the couple found the house freshly painted by the previous occupants. “It was perfect,” reflects Joanna. “The structure was intact, and the color palette didn’t need adjustments.” Post her acting stint in the ’60s and early ’70s, Joanna transitioned from the limelight to a peaceful life, focusing on family and her passion for interior design.
Her challenge was to fit the contents of a much larger house into their new home without compromising on the cherished belongings. Notably, the artwork was non-negotiable. “Those pieces have our heart,” Joanna adds.
Apart from being a talented designer, Joanna is a gifted artist, with a flair for both painting and sculpture. An esteemed piece by her teacher, Artis Lane, holds pride of place in their living room. Interestingly, Joanna has sculpted her own rendition of the subject – actor Djimon Hounsou – while other sculptures grace different parts of their home. One particular piece, a slender bronze of a woman, was a gift to Sidney on his milestone 50th birthday.
Joanna’s journey has been nothing short of fascinating. From a Nova Scotian origin to gracing a Vogue cover and transitioning to acting, her life took a romantic turn when she met Sidney on the set of “The Lost Man”. Destiny played its part, as she was engaged to someone else then.
As their youngest daughter began her college journey, Joanna embarked on her design career. Her inaugural project was a beachside residence, which paved the way for her own design venture, JSP Interiors. Another entrepreneurial venture was born when she collaborated with business partner Janet Rodriguez to form The Florio Collection, offering hand-embroidered drapery panels.
Joanna’s keen eye for detail is evident in every room. Sidney, her biggest admirer, confesses, “Every room tells its own story, making it hard to pick a favorite.”
The home boasts an impressive 80% antiques collection. Joanna’s love for travel with Sidney has led to many unique finds, from rare artifacts to books and vintage furniture.
An underlying theme runs through Joanna’s design ethos: her penchant for gold and her love for flame-stitch woven fabrics, creating an everlasting appeal, much like her enduring relationship with the cinematic legend, Sidney Poitier.
Sidney’s legacy is profound. A pioneer in his own right, he was the first black actor to clinch the Best Actor Oscar for “Lilies of the Field” in 1963. His iconic roles in films like “To Sir, With Love”, “In the Heat of the Night”, and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” further solidified his legendary status. He also ventured into directing, and in 2002, was honored by the Academy for his unparalleled contributions to the film world.