The walls of the conjoined living and dining rooms in the Los Angeles home of actor-producers Viola Davis and Julius Tennon are wrapped in Barnaba Fornasetti’s cloud wallpaper. Ever popular among aesthetes and design cognoscenti, the beloved pattern is paradoxical, simultaneously suggesting tranquility and turbulence. From a distance, the cloudscape appears pillowy and dreamlike, an effect buoyed by its subtle grisaille palette. Upon closer inspection, the sky scene takes a blustery turn. Somehow, the pattern manages to capture seemingly contradictory illusions—the tempest itself and the calm, quiet eye at the center of the storm.
The Fornasetti pattern dovetails neatly with the multivalent character of Davis and Tennon’s Toluca Lake abode, which the couple had inhabited, along with their 12-year-old daughter, Genesis, for roughly five years before embarking on a renovation with LA designer Michaela Cadiz. They wanted their home to be less sparse and austere, yet they have a marked aversion to clutter. They craved color to brighten the formerly monochromatic scheme, just not crazy color. “I always want to go big and bold, but not too bold, not garish,” says Davis, the acclaimed Oscar-, Emmy-, and Tony-winning actor and founder (with Tennon) of JuVee Productions, a company that develops film, television, theater, virtual reality, and digital projects. “We were working in South Africa, shooting The Woman King, while the renovation was unfolding, and we were inspired by the incredible color and culture there,” Davis adds.