Sunday, January 4, 2015

Tour an Enchanted Cottage

It's a home with a pedigree and a touch of magic. 
Twenty-four years ago, actress Jami Gertz hired Kerry Joyce to build a house on Lime Orchard Road in Beverly Hills. It had 5 bedrooms, 5-1/2 baths, and 5,500 square feet--large but possessing the heart and soul of a cottage. Sitting on .31 narrow acres, the property is almost hidden by walls, trees, and gates--the perfect retreat from the high octane world of L.A. The appeal is so potent that when Jessica Simpson listed the home, photos of the grounds and interiors exploded all over the Internet, and the property became a celebrity in its own right. 

Located in a private enclave, the house has witnessed a changing of the guard over the years. In addition to multi-talented Gertz, the impressive roster includes Paul ("Crocodile Dundee") Hogan, Ellen DeGeneres, Jessica Simpson, and, more recently, Jennifer Lawrence. After JLaw bought the property, the news swept through the tabloids, and photographs were recirculated, along with a few new ones.  

From the street, the house rises up behind a wall, shielded by trees. 
After you step through a peacock blue gate, you are instantly transported away from Beverly Hills. The small front yard has a large presence, from the ivy covered walls to the koi pond 
to the bluestone pavers. 

The space looks completely different at night, exuding charm and casting a spell.

In daylight, the vibe is completely different, yet just as alluring.

At dusk, the magic begins.

Potted hydrangeas line the porch steps. You know this house belongs to someone who simply won't allow the menfolk to tear down the vines (as men so love to do--well, not all, but some). 

My heart flutters a bit as I step into the foyer. It's spacious and traditional, with a curved staircase, crystal chandelier, and a cream-and-black marble floor. 

This is how the foyer looked when Jessica Simpson lived here. She hired Rachel Ashwell to decorate it, and you can see her signature touches in many of the photos, such as the painted table and pink, old fashioned roses in the vase.

The living room is on the right, set off by Doric columns. This room has changed over the years. Below, you can see how Jennifer Lawrence put her stamp on it.

The style was very different when Jessica Simpson lived here.

Just beautiful. And here's how the room looked before Jessica added her touches.
This style is my favorite, with unadorned windows, clean lines, and quiet beauty.

Below, the rug is the same, but the details are different--draperies, tables, a new mirror, coffee table. The sofas look similar, except for the arms. Perhaps this is how the room looked when Jami, Crocodile Dundee, or Ellen lived here?

The living room opens to the dining room. Below, you can see how Ashwell decorated the space with her signature touches: Muted wallpaper, a crystal chandelier, slipcovers, pink roses, and draperies that softly puddle on the ebonized floor.

Here's how the dining room looked "B.J.S." and "B.J.L." -- before Jessica and JLaw. Dark furniture, white slips, gold-and-white patterned wallpaper. Gorgeous. I wouldn't change a thing in this room!
[Note: I wonder...was this room enlarged? When I look at Jessica's version of the room, I see wall space on either side of the draperies...maybe more fabric was bunched up (below).

Here's the kitchen as it is today--with JLaw's updates. You may want to study the photo before moving to the next set--that way you can see what was changed and what stayed the same. 

Below, you can see the original kitchen. It didn't change much at all when Jessica bought it--simple white cabinetry, marble checkerboard floor, professional appliances, a cook's island, and lots of beadboard. It's spacious, filled with storage, and practical. [Note: It was my impression that Jessica Simpson had already moved when these photos were taken, and the house had been staged by Rachel Ashwell. The empty Sub-Zero sorta backs up this premise, doesn't it?]

At the far end, a dining table has been tucked into an L-shaped space--the windows overlook a patio that is straight out of a fairy tale. Let's leave the door open for a minute while we continue to look at the kitchen.

The backs of the cabinets have been painted aqua, and the color works as a neutral and keeps the space from being cold. The cabinets have an old fashioned feel. They're simple, with white wooden knobs. A classic backsplash, with white subway tiles; the subdued checkerboard floor echoes the stainless sinks and appliances. 

Another picture...because I just can't get enough of this kitchen.

Another look at JLaw's changes. Do you spot them?
The things that were changed say as much as the things that stayed, and gives us a little insight into JLaw's vivacious personality (as the very best interiors should do).
My take on the changes: The upper cabinets remained, but the lowers were removed and new ones were built (the originals had visible hinges), and new hardware was added. The butcher's block/stainless island was replaced with a new island. Marble counters, marble farm sink, marble (or marble tile--hard to tell at this angle) backsplash. The floor is darker--was it replaced with ebonized wood? Stained concrete? A pot rack was added, along with a Swedish style chandelier for the breakfast room. I noticed a built-in cabinet in this space, right across from the table. That's all I can find!  [Note: I have a little story. The first time I met with Murdock (architect) and my builder at the ranch house, I showed them a photo of Jessica Simpson's original kitchen (the version that had the butcher's block/stainless island and the round, wooden knobs on the cabinetry)--my idea of the perfect cook's kitchen. I still love white cabinetry--but I hadn't thought to use "cottage-like" wooden knobs. End of story. :-)
Just off the breakfast room is a private oasis.

Here it is at night. 

I don't want to leave. Nope, ain't going.

(Much later....)
Okay, let's go back inside.
Here's one of JLaw's bedroom--soft gray and amethyst. 

And here's Jessica's version. Soft, fluffy, girlie.

JLaw's Master Bedroom is palatial. 

The Master has a balcony that overlooks the backyard. (I'm assuming this was Jessica's wicker--the flowers are a vintage Rachel Ashwell touch.)

Here's how Jessica decorated the Master.

Going back in time, the room looked completely different with traditional furnishings (Jamie? Ellen? Crocodile?)

A guest bedroom, circa Jessica.

The home has 5 1/2 bathrooms. 

Another Jessica/Rachel collaboration. Hex tiles, subway tiles, white walls,
pedestal sink.

I'm pretty sure this is the Master Bath--I spy Shabby Chic touches.

Another bathroom!

Another sweet bathroom.

JLaw updated the bathroom with lovely roman shades.

This version looks a little different, with a TV on the wall. 

Another fine-looking bathroom. 

I've lost count. How many baths so far?

The upstairs hall has a unique feature: a rounded wall.

JLaw's totally fun closet.

Rachel Ashwell decorated the nursery for Jessica Simpson's baby daughter.

Downstairs, a light and airy "man cave." Notice that the rear doors open into a private garden space--a place to pot flowers, perhaps? 

The rear elevation is charming. This is a house that doesn't show its age--or size. You won't find anything pretentious in the architecture. This humongous home has the soul of a cottage.

Just when you think you've discovered everything about the house, it shows something new:
I love how fairy lights reflect in the water.

Little surprises are everywhere.

Bluestone pavers lead to the pool.

A dazzle of light and magic. A place where time stops.
You might find yourself wishing on a star.

Update: I found a short tour on Youtube that shows JLaw's new dining room.
I hope you enjoyed today's tour!
Now it's time for margaritas and chips.
Thanks for visiting.

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  1. I agree with you on this. I love the living room with unadorned windows, clean lines, and good furniture. There is such a difference in the look. It is so much more sophisticated. I like shabby chic, but in this house, it doesn't work for me as well as the clean, sophisticated design does. Night and day.

    And the kitchen? The countertops are different. Are they stainless steel in one shot and marble in another? I think that looks like the difference. And they took down the pot rack and swagged the light fixture in the breakfast room. I didn't notice the floors.

    I also agree with you about the dining room. I love the shot of the sophisticated chairs in linen slips, the gold sconces, and the gold and white wallpaper and simple curtains in that dining room you like.

    I like this house so much more than a McMansion. And while I like the foyer, I think the right iron railing on that staircase would work. It would nod to the fact that the house is in California with its Spanish influence. But I could also leave it alone. ;-)



    1. Best I can tell, the kitchen floor, lower cabinets, counters, backsplash, and island were replaced. The simple light fixture in the breakfast nook was replaced with the one you saw--the Belgian/Swedish style chandelier. I think the pot rack is new. Upper cabinets look the same (so gorgeous), but modern (industrial??) hardware was added. I'm guessing the cottage-like "blue" backs of the cabs were painted a neutral color, too. It's fun to guess and play "Where's Waldo" but with kitchens. :-)

  2. sigh.................I would never leave the house!!

  3. I forgot to say that I tried to add whimsical outdoor lighting in my front yard--but on a MUCH smaller scale and budget (Home Depot wasn't cheap, either), and the effect was just about a fiasco. It looked like Bad Christmas rather than a year-round wonderland. This past Christmas, on my way to my mother's house, I passed by a MidCentury Modern (a wonderful example of that era) that had been professionally decorated with outdoor lights, and while it was a toned-down version of Jessica's, the effect was breathtaking. Anyway, the lighting in this house fascinates me. I'm drawn to it like a bug to a light bulb! :-0

  4. I've seen this home a few times before and I have to say the JLaw changes are a huge improvement. When Jessica Simpson had it it looked like it had been decorated by a 12 year old. Actually, I've seen 12 year olds with better taste. Personally, I think the original furnishings that Jamie Gertz used were actually the prettiest. Her look was classic, timeless and would still be considered a beautiful home now.

    1. I read somewhere that Rachel Ashwell staged the house after JSimpson moved out. Oh, yes, I loved Jamie Gertz's style, too. I wish we could see more of JLaw's updates. Just peeking into the dining room, the mood is very different. Different draperies. Different furniture style. Also, the wooden blinds (shutters??) in the living room are gone, and the room just seems brighter.

  5. I'm wondering why in the world Jessica Simpson left this house?? I surely wouldn't want to leave such a beautiful place. I like the shabby chic style the best for this house and I wouldn't change the dining room either. The outdoor space is magical and most of the reason that I wouldn't leave. Thanks for sharing the beauty of this house, both indoors and out, Michael Lee.

    1. She bought Ozzy Osbourne's former home in Hidden Hills. I wonder if she's going in a different design direction--the house is so different from her last--or if she hired Ashwell? You can see the listing photos here:

  6. Great fun to tour this house. Enjoyed your post.

    Blessings to you this new year!
    d on the kansas prairie

  7. This home is over the top amazing..and what is amazing is that is sits on less than a half acre...I am in love with that kitchen...and I too love that living room without the window coverings....the grounds are just as spectacular as the interiors...I can see why so many celebrities loved this house....and I think the way JLaw decorated it is my favorite...

  8. I am such a voyeur when it comes to houses!! I love peeking inside to see how people decorate...especially famous people! ;)

  9. What a gorgeous home. I could live there. Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home.