If the story of writer-director-producer Nancy Meyers and her house were a Hollywood movie, it would most certainly be what the late philosopher Stanley Cavell famously termed a “comedy of remarriage.” Just like His Girl Friday, The Philadelphia Story, and The Awful Truth—three of the best-known examples of the genre from the 1930s and ’40s—this feature would begin at the couple’s breakup, trace the rekindling of their sparky romance, and end with their delightful reunion. In this case, however, our heroine’s romantic partner is not Cary Grant. It is her Provençal–style house in Los Angeles.
Sixteen years ago Meyers, the creative powerhouse behind Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday, and It’s Complicated, decided that things were over between herself and her five-bedroom dream home. For several years, the house had been a beloved refuge. But when daughter Annie went off to college, the house—which Meyers had started building when she was married to the girls’ father, director Charles Shyer—seemed much too big for just her and younger daughter Hallie. “After many years of enjoying this house, I decided I should move to a smaller one,” she says, her eyes twinkling behind horn-rimmed glasses.
Dressed in a crisp white blouse, she’s seated in the home office, where she’s conducted most of her pandemic-era Zoom interviews, a long wall of white-painted bookcases crammed with books and framed family photos behind her. “So I bought the house next door and hired architect Howard Backen to build me a new one,” she continues. That one was going to be much more modestly sized and modern, conceived around indoor-outdoor living. But since it was going to take a couple of years, “I thought to myself, I’ll just change things up here in the meantime,” she recalls. “Basically, if something was dark—like my dining room table—I made it light, and if it was light, I made it dark.” Pause. Cut to our heroine’s light-bulb moment, when she realizes that she might be making a big mistake. “I fell back in love with my house!” she says with a laugh. She abandoned the plan, sold the place next door, and has stayed happily ensconced here—with some recent “freshening up”—ever since.