OK. OK. I am very late to the party, I know. News came out early last week about Lena Dunham’s new house – and I know every other blogger has already written about it. I try to get my stories out fast, in a timely manner (before my competition!) but I always seem to get bogged down in the details and the research. And wow – so many details and so much research went into this once tiny tale.
Even if you already read about Lena’s new house – give this a read. I’ve added a lot of information that I hope will hold your interest. Grab a cup of coffee first though – it’s long and involved!
It was announced last week that Lena Dunham – love her or hate her, she’s the creator of the smash HBO show “Girls” – had bought a charming cottage in L.A. - despite being the consummate New Yorker.
“Charming” is putting it mildly. It’s hard to imagine that Lena would even look twice at this small, two bedroom house located in the darling Hollywood neighborhood, Spaulding Square, where many of the 1920s built bungalows still sit behind white picket fences. Lena Dunham and white picket fences? Seems too bizarre to be true. I would think the native New Yorker would choose a modern loft or a highrise.
Even the fact that Lena is buying property in Los Angeles is a surprise. Since Girls Executive Producer Judd Apatow lives in Los Angeles, Lena visits the west coast a few weeks each fall. In her recent Vogue cover story, she said of Tinsel Town:
“I like Los Angeles, but more than two weeks and I start to get a very sad feeling. You eat well there, and you take hikes, and my dog loves it, but ultimately it’s not the right place for me. I went early on to a party at a really famous person’s house. They had a private chef there making pizza, and I remember the dog was wearing a bow tie. Every time I looked around, it would be like, Is that someone I know from camp? No, that’s Ashton Kutcher. It was such a weird scene. I remember thinking, I don’t feel at home here, and no matter how long this is my job, I will never feel at home here. And if I do start to feel at home here someone should really worry about me.”
Well, just a few months later she ate her own words when she paid almost $3 million for the 2,500 sq. ft. cottage in Los Angeles. So should we really worry about her? Nah.
Hitting the rewind button - with Girls such a huge success, Lena has been busy buying real estate with her new found riches:
A month before her smash HBO series Girls even debuted – Lena bought an 800 sq. ft co-op in this beautiful pre-war building, with a dignified doorman, for a very reasonable $500k. It was located on a “charming tree-lined street” in Brooklyn Heights – close to where she grew up. Perhaps its her attraction to tree lined streets which drew Lena to her new Los Angeles leafy Spaulding Square neighborhood? Still, look at that courtyard, with the vase topped columns at the front gate, in the photo above.
There were never any photoshoots of Lena’s first foray into grown up real estate. But, after moving out when she moved on up this year – she subleased her coop to her boyfriend’s sister – the fashion designer Rachel Antonoff . Since Rachel is such a hip trendmaker, the New York Times, of all people, did a pictorial story of the apartment. It is so darling for a young fashionista – and it has some great design ideas for the younger set:
Here is the foyer/dining room in Lena’s first Brooklyn Heights apartment, now leased to her soon to be sister in law – Rachel Antonoff, pictured here. This is so darling and so perfect for the artsy Rachel. I love the velvet tufted ottoman (which she wants to recover soon) and the gold Mylar wallpaper that Lena installed herself. Rachel replaced the chandelier that Lena used with this more contemporary fixture. Notice the ballerina prints on the wall. Rachel says the building is so welcoming and dreamy, it reminds her of a Hugh Grant movie. The kitchen is at the right – where an neon signs burns purple.
Lena did post a few pictures of her first apartment on her Instagram – here is Rachel’s brother in the kitchen – you can see the trendy Smeg refrigerator at the right! The ceiling above the Mylar wallpaper is hot pink – and instead of the more modern light fixture Rachel has now – Lena’s was a Mardi Gras crystal version.
This is a photo from an identical apartment in the same building – it shows the sunken living room – and the gated dining room, with the nearby kitchen. At 800 sq. ft. – it is large for a one bedroom in New York. I like the railing painted black like Lena’s much better.
The living room has a white tufted sectional – and a pink Princess telephone. The walls are painted Farrow and Ball Teresa’s Green – Rachel’s favorite color. The painting above – is an original by a young Rachel, seen below:
So cute! She must have submitted the art work for a contest. Wonder if she won an award?
The pink Princess phone was an Amazon find – it works, sort of. How many of you had a phone just like that? But this one has a fake rotary dial – you can see it’s really push buttons.
Lena’s mother designed and made the ballet rug for the living room. Lena’s father is a famous painter, mostly of contemporary nudes.
Lena installed the sticker “wallpaper” from Flat Vernacular. The photograph is of artist Daniel Silbert’s grandmother. Hmmm.
The neon sign with her name on it came from a restaurant she visited – her parents, Lena, and her brother all bought it for a house warming gift. But me? All I can see is that fabulous Smeg refrigerator. I wish it were pink, but it looks silver!!! Notice the vintage apron hanging like art work.btw – nothing is cuter for a young girl’s kitchen than a pink Smeg.
But, if you can’t splurge on the big appliance – try the pink coffee maker, mixer or the toaster for a little vintage retro appeal. HERE.
Late last year after her first apartment was turned over to Rachel, Lena moved a few streets over to 30 Henry Street, also in Brooklyn Heights. The move reflects how much her life has changed from three years ago when Girls first came out. She paid almost $5 million for this apartment and the gossip sites were buzzing about her moving on up. Every apartment she even looked at was reported on – great PR for the ones not chosen, of course. The building she did choose is brand new with just five apartments on five floors – each has its own elevator.
Artist’s rendering of the new faux renovated factory type building.
And how it looks finished – do you think it looks like a renovated warehouse/factory?
Here’s a computerized version of the open concept penthouse. Love the balcony railings. Very nice and open. Lena is on a neighborhood committee Save The View Now that is trying to save their views of Brooklyn Bridge that are being threatened by a highrise.
Love the white marble.
The bathroom – it should be nice for the price.
The new apartment is quite a step up from the small one bedroom Lena bought just a few years before, but that’s what a hit show on HBO and a best selling autobiography will do for your bank account.
Which brings us now to Lena’s new Los Angeles house, located in the charming Spaulding Square.
A few months after closing on her new $5 million Brooklyn Heights apartment, the gossip blogs starting writing about Lena buying a house in Los Angles. Coming so soon after her blistering attack against ever living in L.A. – the news was a surprise. Many actors who live in NYC, just rent bungalows at the Hollywood hotel Chateau Marmont when they come into town for business. Maybe Lena wanted more privacy than the paparazzi free zone hotel.
Her choice of neighborhoods for her new L.A. house was also surprising. Her newest purchase is located in Spaulding Square, a historically preserved zone as decreed by the city of L.A. The Square’s eight blocks are just south of the uber trendy Chateau Marmont and Sunset Boulevard.
The red A marks Spaulding Square – where Lena’s new house is located. Just south of Sunset Boulevard and east of Beverly Hills.
The neighborhood, developed by an architect in 1916 – covers just 8 blocks.
In 1901, the neighborhood was farmland.
When first built in 1916, Spaulding Square looked like this – with its newly planted eucalyptus trees and the Hollywood Hills in the background.
Today, the houses are barely visible through the foliage. Many of the original two eucalyptus trees located in each front easement still stand today.
An original Spaulding Square cottage sits behind picket fences. I don’t know what the homeowner rules are about remodeling and rebuilding. I would expect the clauses are quite restrictive, as you can see by how well preserved the original houses all are.
A drive through Spaulding Square shows the charming original bungalows. Young and up-and-coming industry employees, including Lucille Ball, were early residents – choosing to live here before they could afford nearby, pricier Beverly Hills.
Hidden behind tall hedges, this house has a fountain in the front yard.
Another original house built before 1920, still standing in perfect condition.
So Californian. Love the front gate. You rarely see that charming detail today.
These two original eucalyptus trees still stand in the front lawn easement.
This façade was used for the house in movie The Nightmare on Elm Street!
This Spaulding Square house was recently for sale – pictures of its interiors show the inside is as beautiful as the outside:
The house was staged for the sale. Peek into the dining room to see the beautiful murals that circle the room above the wainscoting.
Close up of the murals. I love this house! Would you paint the wood? I would – I would have Segreto paint it a wonderful lightly distressed gray. To see more of this house – go HERE. To see this house before it was staged, go HERE. The diminutive actress Linda Hunt from The Year of Living Dangerously once lived in this house.
And here, we come to Lena’s new house – located behind a tall hedge, making it completely private from passerbys and Tourist tour buses.
The house is located on a corner. Here, in the back, you can see the garage and guest house that was added by the current owners.
An aerial view shows the house with the pool off to the side and the garage/guest house in the back of the lot. The tall hedge completely surrounds the house on all sides.
And, behind those hedges, is the house the Lena bought – an utterly delightful house – that surely did entrance Lena into putting down roots in Los Angeles – who could resist this house?
Just 2,500 sq ft – the house, with its classical columns, has two bedrooms, plus a large guest house.
And here is where the fun begins. Filled with beautiful, Californian casual antiques, there is no doubt that an interior designer either lived here, or certainly had been hired to work here. The house was so stylishly decorated, I started wondering – who were the owners, and why did it all seem so familiar?
There was something about the interiors that reminded me of this – Ellen DeGeneres and Portia di Rossi’s former horse ranch.
Remember it – featured HERE. The mix of antique and vintage furnishings, the warm woods, the textures – Lena’s new house had such a similar feel.
The white walls, the light fabrics, the old and new mixed together. Ellen and Portia’s former ranch reminded me so much of the interiors in Lena’s new house. But why?
After a bit of research and the former owners were revealed - famous shop owner Brenda Antin, and her husband. Wow. Of course and no wonder why Ellen’s ranch seemed so similar. Their ranch is filled with furniture and accessories from Brenda’s eponymous shop, Brenda Antin, located on Beverly Blvd. in West Hollywood.
Besides the antiques, accessories, and textiles she imports, Brenda also reproduces more than two dozen of her prized finds, including Portuguese dining chairs, Troutback wing chairs, white-lacquered, fretwork seating cubes with antique linen cushions, and Chesterfield sofas in cream-colored, Italian glove leather. Born in London, Brenda has an incredible eye – she is a true trendsetter and her aesthetic fills house after house in Los Angeles and California, and even throughout the world. In almost every fine design magazine, you will find furniture and accessories sourced to her shop.
Brenda and her husband Mike. Their three children are in the biz. Daughter Robin founded the Pussycat Dolls, a burlesque troupe. Her brother Jonathon is famous for being a reality show hairdresser on Blow Out. Their other son is a producer. Brenda herself worked as Creative VP for Motown before becoming Hollywood’s style setter.
Inside Brenda Antin’s shop – the front showcases furniture, while textiles are under the balcony.
Here’s another picture from the shop. I love everything I see!
Google Image “Brenda Antin” and a zillion pictures from every design magazine pop up. Here, Patrick Dempsey’s Malibu house, featured in Architectural Digest, shows two fabulous green chaises from Brenda Antin. His house is filled with her treasures.
Remember this house I featured HERE, the Houston philanthropic owners of the Californian spa Cal-A-Vie? Those leather chairs came from Brenda Antin.
One of Cote de Texas favorite people – Interior Designer Penelope Bianchi - has two cane chairs in her bedroom – from Brenda Antin. And what a gorgeous bedroom that is. Look at that paint color!!!! Gorgeous!!!!!!
Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady’s house is filled with Brenda Antin merchandise, like these casual chairs.
Of course, being located in Spaulding Square, Lena’s new house would have a Hollywood Connection. As if the Brenda Antin connection wasn’t enough, the house also been owed by George Peppard – the handsome Breakfast At Tiffany’s star!
Built in 1920, The Antins owned the house for 12 years. They totally restored and renovated it – adding a salt water pool, and French doors that open the house to its three porches. They installed Swedish hardwood floors throughout and put in a new kitchen with top of the line appliances. They spent a year on the renovation – and it shows. They then decorated it using their collection of antiques –and, surely its interiors attracted Lena even more.
The house is completely surrounded by tall hedges, ensuring its privacy.
Walking into the living room through the front door – there is also a study that is directly to the right of the front door.
Here, the living room is filled with light colored furniture, all designed by Antin and covered in vintage linen. The cream acts as a base for all the antiques and accessories and art work.
Vintage leather chairs from Paris sit near the fireplace.
The mantel holds a collection of the remarkable art work found throughout. The clock is a rare antique by Tiffany.
Notice the ottoman covered in a colorful textile.
No seagrass here! An antique rug, very muted, is a beautiful alternative.
Besides the real estate photographs, I found some beautiful pictures on Domaine, HERE and above that show Lena’s new house photographed by Chris Patey.
In this view – you can see into the adjoining study. Fortuny throw pillows.
An old zebra chair, desk, and mirror – sit next to the study. So beautiful!!!
A closer view of the zebra chair – I am dying to do this!
Look how beautiful the bleached Swedish hardwood floors are.
A view from the study into the living room. Another leather chair from Paris.
Between the kitchen and living room is the dining room. Antin chose to turn it into a library. For a dinner party, the table is cleared and set. I love the two antique American chairs. Off the dining room is a porch. This is my favorite room in the house!
Notice the bookcase – with all the art work - behind the table.
A close up of the dining room bookcase. Look at the art work!!!
A photo from Domaine. Why are professional photographs so much better than real estate photos??? It just shows you how talented professionals are!
The same view – but here you can see the vaulted beaded board ceiling and the antique alabaster light fixture.
A close up view of the antique settee and table.
The view from the dining room to the kitchen.
The porch off the dining room.
A few steps down to a sitting room inside the privacy hedges.
The kitchen was totally redone. The shiny beadboard ceiling is vaulted.
Behind the antique table and casual chairs is a wall of glass fronted cabinets.
Marble countertops and subway tile.
Twelve years ago – people weren’t really doing open shelving instead of upper cabinets. Always a trend setter!
Viking range and striped rugs sits next to yet another French leather antique chair.
Love, love!!!! And love!!!
Another view of the glass fronted cabinets – which are next to a vintage painting.
The master bedroom with antique black chests and an all white bed.
Sheepskin rugs are obviously a favorite.
The second bedroom is off the hall at the right.
The master bathroom with its marble farmsink – love this!!! Subway tile walls. Those frosted windows!
Classic mosaic tile floors.
The second bedroom seems all American with that comback bench.
Another view of the beautiful bench.
Love the styling! Great lamp and vintage clock.
Roomy guest room bath. Love those windows. Many houses in the neighborhood have the same set up in the bathroom – with the vanity between drawers that sit under the windows.
Outside – the back porch overlooks the guest house and pool.
Vintage green wicker on the back porch.
The view off the kitchen.
Attached to the garage is the guest house which greatly looks like a house in the Hamptons.
Another view of the guest house.
The view from the guest house to the main house. What do you think about hedges instead of fences? They seem a little too claustrophobic to me. I wonder what landscape designer Tara Dillard might think? I realize that privacy is needed on a corner lot, but the tall hedges seem a bit too isolating. Might a fence have been better?
Inside the guest house – this really reminds me of Ellen and Portia’s horse ranch!!!
Another view – love the mix of textures here – leather, wicker, linen, white cotton, zebra.
A faraway view – behind the open stairs.
A close up view of the white floors, an all the various textiles in the room.
A view of the sleeping loft. For some reason, the American flag really adds to the Hamptons feel. Notice how the bathroom doors have frosted glass inset. I noticed this in the bedrooms in the main house, too.
Nude upon nude.
Kitchen and laundry in the guest house.
The kitchen sits behind one of the frosted glass doors. Instead of a table, a bar was used in the small space.
Now – further proof. Only a professional photographer can make a laundry room look good!!! Notice the window!
Upstairs – the bedroom. Nothing was skimped for guests. The furnishings are nice here too, including the pony skin chaise and large nude drawing placed casually on the floor.
And the bathroom – the mosaic floors with subway tiles. Classic and timeless. A bathroom like this will never date.
I have no idea where they Antins are moving, but I’m sure it will be furnished beautifully. Hopefully they’ll do another photoshoot in their new house. I doubt that Lena Dunham will ever do a pictorial here, so this will probably be the last we will ever see of this house – until she sells it.
There is another house though. When researching the neighborhood, Spaulding Square, I found several houses that were either for sale or had recently sold. One house was so cute that I saved it so that I could show it on another day. BUT, doing a bit a research, it turns out that the house was renovated by one – Steven Antin. Yep – those Antin’s son. Their director son – well known for his 2010 film Burlesque, starring Christina Aguilera, also likes to flip houses and this, his latest and 7th flip is so fine. It’s another 1919 original, white, with a beautiful exterior – in the Spaulding Square neighborhood.
He bought the house for $1.3 million and sold it for almost $3 million – a record price in the neighborhood. It doesn’t state how much he spent renovating the house – but it was obviously extensive. I also was lucky to have found the BEFORE pictures of the $3 million house.
Steven credits his parents for his aesthetic – and you will see that there is definitely a resemblance.
BEFORE: Not bad actually. The before exterior looks fine to me – the landscaping is a tad overgrown though.
AFTER: Well, yes. This is much better! Love the gates. There is a new front door, an awning and a reworked landscaping.
BEFORE: Terribly overgrown landscaping.
AFTER: The front porch was reworked. Box was added around the porch and lush grass was planted.
BEFORE: The house is located on a corner, just like Lena’s. There is a huge tree on this side of the house.
AFTER: Look how beautiful!!! The push out on the side is the dining room. Notice the large tree was removed. Also – notice the brick work on the stucco chimneys – nice detail that adds texture. On this side – you can see two chimneys – the back one is new, added on when the rear portion of the house was extended. Notice how perfectly Antin matched the new fireplace to the old!
BEFORE: The front door opens to a large living room, beyond which lies a center hall and staircase. The only picture of the stairs is this one, showing the second floor and the closed up staircase. Green walls, dreary colored wood floors and banister. Old, dated – and never renovated is the state of this 1919 house in 2013.
Today: the front door opens to a large living room that runs from the left to the right side of the house. In the center is the stairwell, beyond which is the kitchen. To the right of the stairs is the dining room. New, very dark hardwood floors and white walls – I still love this look and think it’s a wonderful way to restore classical older homes. Beautiful millwork. The one thing I would have done differently is painted the balusters white.
Close up of the beautiful molding up the side of the stairs. The kitchen/family room lies at the back of the house – from the left to the right side.
BEFORE: The front door opens to the large living room which runs from one side of the house to the other. The fireplace is on the right. The dining room opens off the right side of the house. Antin left the built-ins between the living room and dining room.
AFTER: Here is the right side of the living room. The original mantel remains – but Antin added a wall of millwork above it.
BEFORE: Looking at the left side of the living room with its dreary wall to wall carpet. From this picture – you can see the room was not open to the staircase, as it is today. Antin must have opened that center hall to the staircase – making them the focal point of the downstairs.
AFTER: Here is the left side of the living room – the house was most likely staged for resale, using furniture and accessories from his mother’s shop Brenda Antin.
I love this photograph of the newly installed French doors – opening to the leafy side of the house – with the green velvet pillows, white slips, zebras, and black and white prints.
BEFORE: Past the right side of the living room is the dining room – which opens onto the kitchen/family room at the back of the house. Before, the room was dark and dreary. Someone must have played the piano – that’s the second one in the house.
The wide dining room with this pop-out alcove – allows for a seating area by the bank of windows on the right. So beautiful! I love those new windows!!! Staged with an area rug and zebra layered over it. Notice the row of balusters under the windows. They appear to have a plate glass placed in front of them – allowing you to see through them, under the windows.
BEFORE: Here is a picture of the dining room – from the outside – before the renovation. You can see the beautifully built alcove. The windows are above it and the row of balusters sit under them – between the two columns. Today – the balusters are restored and remain but the plate glass placed behind them – makes one able to see through them from the inside. Such a classic, beautiful house! Above is a porch.
In the main portion of the dining room – a long antique wood table with chairs is placed next to the large, new opening to the extended family room/kitchen.
AFTER: In this photograph – you can see more plainly the dining room with the bumped out sitting area – and the dining table which sits in the main part of the room.
BEFORE: The kitchen sits at the left side of the house. Beyond is a covered porch. The entire back of the house was extended into one large room.
BEFORE: This room lies between the living room and the kitchen. This room is not shown in the new pictures, but it probably is more of a butlers pantry today. Not sure though.
BEFORE: This room lies past the dining room on the right side of the house. Today this area was extended and becomes the family room with the fireplace at this side of the room.
AFTER: The porch, kitchen, and bedroom – were all rebuilt into this one fabulous room that overlooks the salt water swimming pool that Antin installed. This wonderful sun filled room is the heart of the house.
Looking towards the kitchen. Brenda Antin must sell those Hotel pillows. I really like those!
A farm sink overlooks the back yard. No overhead cabinets – just like his parents house. Centered between glass enclosed cabinets is the large range. Interesting bar stools and pendant lights – most likely from Brenda Antin.
Close up of the Wolf range.
I love all the windows and French doors that Antin used in this house.
Closeup shows vintage leather chairs and acrylic coffee table. A bit more hip than his parents’ house. Built in window seats sit under the bookshelves.
BEFORE: Upstairs bedrooms – there were four before, three now.
This one sits over the dining room with its porch.
TODAY: the bedrooms have the same beautiful mill work found downstairs, along with the dark hardwoods.
BEFORE: One of the bathrooms – great tub and sink.
Another before bathroom.
AFTER: With the hardwood floors and beautiful cabinetry – the white marbles and mirrors all continue the classic look. Just beautiful. A bathroom like this will never go out of style, IMO. Steven Antin did such a great job on this house. It’s a beauty.
The new porch which overlooks the back yard. Look at the size of those columns.
BEFORE: The back of the house. At the right is the porch that sits behind the kitchen. At the left is the bedroom. This entire back was removed and rebuilt. The pitch of that roof remains though and can be seen today.
Today – the rebuilt porch with new balcony above. You can see the pitch of the original roof over the balcony. How beautiful is this compared to how it was!!!! At the left is the new fireplace added to the family room.
The swimming pool runs the width of the house.
The view of the porch and balcony – so beautiful!!!! I like how Antin repeated the balustrade element along the balcony – that is found outside the dining room. You can see the high hedges that now hide the house from the street – just like at his parents’ house. You can really see the influence of the older generation on the younger generation’s aesthetic.
I hope you have enjoyed this look at Lena Dunham’s real estate choices made during her young career – and how it has now crossed with one the more important personal aesthetics that has shaped the Californian look – Brenda Antin.
You might not have been familiar with the name, but you most certainly are familiar with her style. Her eye has furnished so many of the houses in Los Angeles, Malibu, California, the Hamptons, and more. Her shop is the source named in pictorial after pictorial after pictorial. So many designers shop at her store – spreading her aesthetic from coast to coast.
It has been a real thrill to see how she furnished her own house – and it was obviously her style that Lena was attracted to when she chose her new house. And who can blame her? The house – and its styling are beautiful.
There is no web site for the shop Brenda Antin. Here is the address and phone number of the shop.7410 Beverly BlvdLos Angeles, CA 90046Phone number(323) 934-8451
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