The residence is "strangely upside-down" in plan, Smith points out, with three bedrooms. Visitors enter a small living room, then proceed up the moderne staircase to a massive living room with high ceilings and large windows overlooking the pool, tennis court and terraced gardens. "You don't expect it," he remarks. "It's a very effective architectural device." It's rife with other touchstones of the era -- especially the dramatic flight of stairs and the bold embrace of built-in furniture. A preponderance of mirrors was also, of course, a requisite design element when dealing with a star of Dolores Del Rio's wattage. "Moderne in the movies predated life by about 15years," notes Smith. "Those glamorous New York penthouses didn't exist yet. Gibbons and his movies created the taste for it."Smith's delicate mission was to infuse the residence with lost luxury while at the same time not parodying the past. The designer subtly introduced lush materials like mohair mixed with silk on the sofas and Chinese silk on the walls, also commissioning paintings in mother of pearl and silver leaf to rekindle the house's original glittering aura. Designer and client scoured auctions, purchasing key pieces by Paul Frankl, Donald Deskey and others and Daum glass from the '30s. "It needed furniture that had the same voice as the house," Smith explains.