Inside Celebrity Homes: Rustic Style at Laura Dern’s LA Home – The Big Little Lies and Wilson star combines pieces from her impressive career with Bohemian touches for a truly unique vibe.
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 by Calvin C. Straub (of the powerhouse midcentury firm Buff, Straub and Hensman), on a lot 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.
Immediately after seeing it, she called close pal and architect Michael Kovac, whom she was originally introduced to by film director Steven Spielberg. Kovac found the house in solid condition, but tired and dark. “It was like being in a camper—you didn’t have any connection to the outside,” he says. Dern, ever the architecture and interior design junkie, asked him: “How does it continue? What do we do?”
With its “inherently beautiful set of bones,” as Kovac puts it, the updates were easy—and respectful. Director David Lynch, a midcentury architecture buff whom Dern first worked with on Blue Velvet in the 1980s, was also someone she called on for advice early in the project. A few seasons’ worth of renovations opened up the three-bedroom, 2,464 square-foot home immensely. They replaced walls with glass, added a skylight and pool, brightened the interior palette, expanded the kitchen and removed awkward, tiny spaces and a dark backyard hedge that blocked light from radiating down the hill. As a result the home has a beautiful flow, with the inside and out bleeding together.