You’ve seen her homes on the covers of the world’s biggest décor magazines, but actress Ellen Pompeo has been keeping a big design secret. Her trailer on the lot of Grey’s Anatomy looked more like a hideout scene from Breaking Bad than the space you’d expect one of TV’s most in-demand actresses to relax in between takes. “It was depressing,” Pompeo recalls of the small mobile unit she’d inhabited since the debut of ABC’s long-running hit drama. “I’ve been in that trailer for 10 years and needed a functional workspace,” the design-loving actress told us when first seeking advice from myself and Domaine’s editor-at-large, Estee Stanley.
Outfitted in brown, plastic, faux-bois paneled walls, clunky wood furniture that bolted to the ground, and barren window boxes that provided little light from the outside world, Pompeo and the Domaine team set out to transform the dungeonous motor home into a fresh, tranquil hangout spot without breaking the bank.
For the most cost-efficient change, Stanley and I agreed the biggest impact we could make in the small space would start with paint. With the challenge to make bold moves to existing surfaces, we turned to Ralph Lauren Home to find the most ideal white for brightening the interior: “Starch” #RL1066. Knowing black and white would punctuate the space throughout, we updated the built-in table with Ralph Lauren’s “Black Basalt” #1096, providing a seductive companion piece to the Prouve-style side chairs we scored at InMod.
As a real estate and décor enthusiast, Pompeo has taken on a handful of high-end renovations, like the recent transformation of her L.A. villa as seen in this month’s Architectural Digest, and speaks the language when it comes to assembling the right furnishings for the job. “The key to successfully designing a small room is maximizing every inch of space in the right way.”
With just 150 square feet, the space needed to function as a workstation for calls and meetings, a wardrobe room, a play area for kids, and lounge for hosting visitors and kicking back. The plan? Add additional seating in a vintage green upholstered settee from Brenda Antin, but keep furniture pushed to the perimeter of the room. A soft LOHLAS jute rug provided a durable floor covering for the crew that often passes through the space, and Crate and Barrel’s Libations bar cart added a little mixed-metal bling and hid unsightly electronic boxes.
“Give special consideration on where to splurge and where to save," Stanley recommends when working on a tight budget. “Lighting can instantly up a room’s wow factor, so we gave ourselves room in the budget to swap out what was currently there.” To provide more luxe details, we added brass and glass Mist Arch wall lights from Rejuvenation and continued the high-contrast theme with Rejuvenation's Jefferson Classic Flush Ceiling Fixture. Though window treatments can certainly be a tipping point when spending on a redesign, we knew IKEA ISDAN roller shades and VIVAN curtains would provide adequate privacy, while helping the space remain bright with clean, filtered light.
What do you think of Ellen Pompeo's small-space makeover? Tell us in the comments below!