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Tour Elaine Welteroth’s Hollywood Hills Hideaway

The Project Runway judge and bestselling author reflects on her family’s inspiring space

grand piano Elaine Welteroth Jonathan Singletary babyWelteroth, Singletary, and baby Silver Isley stand in front of the grand piano.

They say nothing in life is more stressful than moving, home renovations, and childbirth. Naturally, my husband, Jonathan, and I embarked on them all at the same time—in the middle of a pandemic, no less. Then, after spending my third trimester shuffling back and forth between our temporary rental and the construction zone formerly known as our house, we both tested positive for COVID just days before moving back in with our newborn. We didn’t plan for events to unfold this way, but if 2020 taught us anything, it’s to surrender, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

Our bumpy adventures in nesting began peak pandemic when we abandoned plans for a formal wedding and got married on our Brooklyn stoop. Our pared-down ceremony represented a joyful graduation of sorts—from the unrelenting grind of the city where I cut my teeth in fashion media and became editor in chief of Teen Vogue. On a practical level, it enabled us to reinvest our wedding budget into buying our first house. Ultimately, California—where we both grew up and met in church as preteens—was calling us home. If we landed in NYC as single 20-somethings with tunnel vision eager to build our careers, we were leaving as 30-something newlyweds ready to cultivate the rest of our lives.

living room sofa chairs pitched ceilingsIn the beamed living room, a vintage channeled sofa by Steve Chase and a pair of oak chairs, all from Whatever Gallery, are upholstered in a textural bouclé; travertine cocktail and side tables from MIDCENTURYLA; rug by Lulu and Georgia.

We’re both writers (he writes songs; I write books, among other things), so our process began with jotting down words that kept our intentions in focus: more space, more sunlight, more serenity. The dream was to go from the top floor of a Bed-Stuy brownstone to a chic hideaway in the Hollywood hills. But we were halfway up a particularly perilous, winding single-lane road when I said aloud to our real estate broker, Ikem Chukumerije: “I don’t care what this next house looks like; there is no way I’m doing this drive every day.” Of course, the moment I walked through the doors I just knew: This was our home.

The 13-foot pitched ceilings, the spacious, sun-drenched patios, the artful views, wood beams, and airy, open spaces—it instantly delivered on wow factor. It also possessed a certain creative soul we both immediately tapped into. Later we learned the contemporary Spanish-style dwelling, built in 1977, was previously owned by the prolific film director and actor Robert Townsend. We loved that there was enough space to grow into the 2.0 versions of ourselves. Little did we know then that less than a year later we would be designing the space with a new member of the family on the way.

dining nook pendant light banquetteIn the dining nook, two vintage Italian chairs are pulled up to a 1970s Italian stone table. The custom banquette is covered in a Métaphores fabric. Tigmi Trading pendant light; painting by Corey Pemberton.
credenza artworkA painting by Rebecca Jack is displayed on a vintage faux-goatskin-covered credenza in the entry.

In NYC you invest in what you put on to leave your house. In L.A. you invest in the things that make you never want to leave your house. As a first-time home buyer eager to redesign every aspect of our lives with intention, I Marie Kondo’d the hell out of my existence and refused to purchase anything I couldn’t envision sparking joy for years to come. This over- zealous plan inevitably backfired when six months later we were still living like college kids in an abandoned frat house, sleeping on oversized beanbags and eating pizza by the fire on a card table from Home Depot. It was sort of romantic for a while, but the charm quickly wore off and we were ready to feel like actual adults. With a burgeoning TV career requiring me to be bicoastal, we knew it was time to enlist help from professionals.

Enter Night Palm’s Tiffany Howell, an in-demand interior designer who brings a moody, cinematic flair to her projects. We met serendipitously over our mutual love affair with a sofa at Pop Up Home, a vintage-furniture store and gallery for underrepresented artists. I eventually pursued her after seeing her work in my dear friend Mara Brock Akil’s stunning office space. Luckily, the stars aligned, as well as our taste in sofas, and she signed on to help us get our act together. I knew it was a match made in design heaven when she scored us an even better version of that sofa at a fraction of the price (saving money is the ultimate joy!).

Elaine Welteroth Jonathan Singletary baby Los Angeles homeJonathan Singletary (wearing pants by The Incorporated and shoes by Fear of God) and Elaine Welteroth (in a Taller Marmo dress and Kat Maconie shoes) with their baby son, Silver Isley Singletary, in the living room. Welteroth’s fashion styling by Monica Rose; Singletary’s by Karina Salerno.

Howell’s love of music and fashion overlapped with our creative backgrounds; we spoke the same language. “I want the house to feel like a Stan Getz song,” she said, noticing we were having a bossa nova moment. We were all drawn to the home’s bones and Spanish soul, so it was important to pre- serve them at all costs. With the expansive rounded fireplace as our muse, we landed on the idea of creating a zen, modern sanctuary that gives Brazilian tree house vibes.

Like everyone else who migrates to L.A., we wanted to indulge in indoor-outdoor living. But with zero experience maintaining a yard, let alone keeping a single plant alive, we commissioned landscape designer John Sharp to elevate our curb appeal and create lush little worlds on our expansive decks that offer privacy while evoking a cool Jurassic-era ambience.

Because music is the heartbeat of our home, we made Jonathan’s grand piano the focal point of our great room. We love entertaining but we aren’t traditional people, so instead of a formal dining area, we created plenty of seating outdoors and built a custom banquette into an otherwise overlooked nook that’s become our absolute favorite hangout spot in the house. The walls are punctuated by custom fluted wood paneling that speaks to the home’s late-’70s design and bold art pieces that celebrate Black bodies.

As creative entrepreneurs we crave inspiring spaces to dream in. We turned a spare bedroom into an unabashedly colorful multipurpose “Zoom room,” glam room, and workspace where I’m currently writing my next book and crafting a weekly advice column for The Washington Post. We built the ultra-glam vanity of my childhood fantasies and blessed the walls with iconic portraits of my muse Grace Jones.

Once we discovered we were expecting, Jonathan’s music studio was converted into a nursery with a Calico Wallpaper jungle print fit for a gender-neutral baby room but polished enough for an adult to appreciate spending time in.

curved shower bench arched doorwaysA curved built-in bench in the primary bathroom’s shower plays off of the arched doorways. 
Nursery crib coffee tablesCalico Wallpaper’s Wanderlust envelops the nursery. Crib by Babyletto; chair by Sarah Ellison.

Our primary bathroom became the pièce de résistance of the renovation project. Night Palm designed curved arches in the shower and doorways that transport you to an elevated Moroccan hammam. We discovered a mysterious old fireplace hidden in the walls and repurposed a portion of it to create a tiled altar for my best candles and crystals.

Demo began during my third trimester, so our impending due date mandated a strict three-month deadline for the construction team, led by Judd Burton. No one believed they’d bring our design to life in that time frame, but indeed they pulled it off. Three weeks after delivering our son, Silver Isley Singletary, in a home birth at our rental, we moved into our domestic sanctuary where he will take his first steps and make all of his earliest memories. While this journey was not for the faint of heart, just like childbirth, the struggle was worth it in the end.

Via Architectural Digest

Joyce Rey
Joyce Rey
Joyce Rey

Joyce Rey is one of the most respected names in luxury real estate worldwide, having represented some of the most significant properties in the world.



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