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19.02.20

Big Little Lies star Laura Dern combines pieces from her impressive career with Bohemian touches for a truly unique vibe in her Brentwood home.

A couple of years ago, when it was time to ditch her 1920s Spanish-Moorish house and “invent a new home space” for herself and her two children, award-winning actress Laura Dern was on a mission. “I had this fantasy of moving them into a treehouse,” she says. Since livable treehouses aren’t exactly in great supply in Los Angeles, she found the next best thing: a minimalist 1953 post-and-beam home, in Brentwood’s rustic-turned-tony Mandeville Canyon. Lush and jungle-like, the piece of land looked like it could have come straight from the set of Jurassic Park.

After completing on the property, Dern went forth and replaced walls with glass, added a skylight and pool, brightened the interior palette, expanded the kitchen and removed tiny spaces. As a result the home has a beautiful flow, with the inside and out bleeding together.

“I ooked at a lot of modern houses that weren’t from this era, and I appreciated them but there was an austere sense that might feel like I was living in a hotel. Even though I can appreciate a very minimalistic, monochromatic space as meditative and beautiful, I couldn’t live there unless it had a little bit of hippie.”

For Dern, objects are important because each and every one of them has a story. She’s incredibly nostalgic. Many of the characters she’s played have left their mark on her taste, but her current one, the prickly Renata Klein on HBO’s Big Little Lies, is a polar opposite. Her television home, set in Monterey, is “cool, monochromatic, cinematic, very luxurious, and tranquil. I like to mess it up more, so that’s where we’re incredibly different,” Dern muses.

Film buffs would drool over a tour around Dern's home: a miniature Tyrannosaurus rex figurine guards the front door—a gift from Spielberg upon wrapping the first Jurassic Park. A trio of Golden Globe statuettes hides behind stacks of books on hallway shelves. The period shoes she wore to literal pieces while filming Rambling Rose (which earned both Dern and her mother, actress Diane Ladd, Academy Award nominations in 1992) decorate the family room.

The hat her dad, actor Bruce Dern, wins at the end of Nebraska lives in her daughter, Jaya’s room.  And in the room of her 15-year-old son, Ellery, is the exact Ralph Lauren–designed suit donned by her dad in 1974’s The Great Gatsby. It was a gift from a dear friend, Eddie Vedder, who happens to be as rabid a collector as Dern.

As a self-proclaimed collector of things, she buys “art, photography, pottery, things from around the world, movie posters and lunch boxes.” Los Angeles’ Modernica and Blackman Cruz are personal go-tos for shopping, inspiration and advice; while foreign markets are a major source of her collectibles, she’s even snagged discarded instruments and pottery from curbsides. Tea cups—from earthen to modern to English china—and salt and pepper shakers are other items of which she has dozens, even hundreds, along with the vintage TV show lunch boxes.

She calls the living room "one of her favorite spaces in the world." Made up of a 1970s Mario Bellini leather sofa, Marc Phillips rug, Hollywood at Home pillows, collected ceramics and musical instruments. A vintage Vladimir Kagan sofa, reupholstered in faux white fur, is “a very beloved piece but something you would never think of ever having with your children and black dog.” He also facilitated certain wishlist items. One was an Alexandra Hedison triptych of emerald-hued trees, which infuses the saturated dining room—where a giant claro walnut slab table is surrounded by George Nakashima seating—with leafy life and wraps the backyard into the house, enhancing its treehouse vibes. The other is Dern’s prized “Umbrella Girl” by Banksy, which hangs off-center above her bed.

For a serious art aficionado, the one “heartbreak” of her glass house is a lack of hanging space. Surfboards and skateboards, which she considers art, too, lean against outdoor surfaces. “I really like joyful space,” she says. The multi-person collaboration turned out just that: a vibrant, expressive, storied living space that perfectly reflects her. Says Dern, “I loved dollhouses growing up, and it does feel like a dollhouse where you’re always looking in to something magical, like a treasure box.”

 

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