The Los Angeles–area home of Bones star Michaela Conlin is as striking, welcoming, and stylish as the actress herself. Purchased by Conlin in 2007, the house dates back to the ’30s, but thanks to a slow and steady renovation and decoration process, she and her friend and interior designer Drew Lage have crafted a stylish yet approachable home that honors the house’s origins while conveying Conlin’s more current tastes.
“The home has a decidedly Streamline Moderne architectural influence,” Lage says. “Lots of rounded corners and vaguely nautical references throughout. We really want to enhance what was already there and let it guide us.” By collecting furniture and décor from a wide variety of eclectic sources and practicing patience when it came to finding the “right” piece, the duo created a relaxing and serene home for Conlin to retreat to after long hours on set.
At the beginning of the project, the pair drew inspiration from shelter magazines and their own instincts to create a unique environment that accurately reflected Conlin’s tastes and style. “We started by looking at design magazines and books and pulling out photos of rooms that I liked,” she says. “Drew and I would discuss things, and he would suggest something great.”
Conlin and Lage’s similar aesthetics and friendly chemistry enabled the collaboration to be a smooth one. “We both have the same general design philosophy, which is understated and warm, but very cohesive and a little playful,” says Lage. “We both dislike anything too staged or affected. We challenged each other but respected the other’s point of view.”
Lage was working at L.A.-based furniture store Lawson-Fenning at the time the pair met, so the first piece they selected for was the stunning sculptural coffee table in the living room. “That was the only thing I had in the living room for a while!” Conlin exclaims.
The decorating process, which began back in 2007, was an intentionally slow one. “This business is nuts, and you never know if you’re going to have a job or not,” Conlin says. “When I bought the house, I was just finishing the second season of the show [Bones]. I didn’t have much furniture at all. Each season that the program was renewed, I would work on one area of the house—the dining room one season, the bedroom another, and so on.”
The gradual approach to designing the home enabled Conlin and Lage to patiently seek out unique and individual pieces from a broad spectrum of sources, from eBay to flea markets to high-end showrooms. “Michaela really understood the idea of collecting things and investing in good items when she could,” Lage says. “Most of the furnishings are midcentury classical, but we decided we wanted to add a layer of warmth and exoticism. We got very fixated on shopping for Moroccan and Turkish rugs, indigo textiles, vintage lighting, good art, and so on.”
Once larger pieces were in place, Conlin sought out standout accents to layer into the space and project a personal and collected vibe. “I would go to the flea market and pick up something like those little gold bird statues on the coffee table or the vintage rug,” she says. “I’d find an old chair that we could get reupholstered, and it just built from there. I like mixing new things with older ones.”
Despite the kitchen’s complete renovation, Conlin was interested in seeking out a vintage stove to add character to the space and honor the home’s late-’30s origins. “I looked at a lot of different places but ended up buying my stove at a great place in North Hollywood that restores old appliances,” she says. “The staff was extremely knowledgeable about the history of all of their inventory, especially the stoves from the ’40s and ’50s.”
In the office, a midcentury sideboard harmonizes with a window seat swathed in Ralph Lauren fabric, offering the perfect perch to appreciate the home’s stunning views. “The window seat in my office is my favorite piece in the house,” says Conlin. “I love to sit there and read and watch the sun go down.”
I love Scandinavian design. I’ve spent some time in that area and am always struck by how beautiful the interiors are.
Though the pair had no exact inspiration in mind for the house’s overall design, Conlin does find herself drawn to Scandinavian homes while also appreciating vintage pieces and the thrill of the hunt. “I love Scandinavian design,” she says. “I’ve spent some time in that area and am always struck by how beautiful the interiors are. It’s simple and smart, and it always feels current.”
By the time the pair was ready to tackle the bedroom, Conlin had acquired enough experience and design knowledge to offer more input when it came to the décor. “The bedroom was a bit different as I had lived in the house for a while before I started it,” she says. “I knew how I wanted it to feel.” Layers of serene ivory and cream colors pair well with soft metallic accents to create a relaxing retreat with just the right amount of glamor.
This story was originally published on May 14, 2015, and has since been updated. Next up: Step inside Jessica Alba's gorgeous guesthouse.