Go Inside the Santa Monica Villa Melissa Rivers Filled with Her Mother's Heirlooms

"After my mother [Joan Rivers] passed away, I felt it was just time for a change," said Melissa Rivers, explaining her decision to sell her home in LA's Pacific Palisades. Melissa had lived there for almost a quarter of a century, sometimes with her mother when Joan was in town filming the duo together. "It was a great home, but it was time to take a step forward and create a new environment for me and my son."
The TV host and producer would soon buy a 7,048-square-foot Mediterranean-style mansion in nearby Santa Monica. She then teamed up with interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard to embark on a two-year renovation. The mission? To open up and brighten the flow and feel of the somewhat dated house. Bullard was also hired to help Rivers find just the right spots for so many of the beloved pieces from their parents' epic art and decoration collections - to combine modern and airy with luxurious and delicate.
“I never noticed how much living with art is my home,” says Rivers, who meticulously placed a selection of “important, important, important” pieces from her parents' estate around the house. The work above the living room fireplace used to hang in Rivers' New York apartment, also above the fireplace. (River's apartment is connected to her mother's.) "This piece made my room comfortable immediately." The space also displays some of her parents' collections, including Chinese figurines, mother-of-pearl inlay boxes, and silver pill boxes from England. High ceilings required oversized lighting, and Bullard found these river lanterns early in the process. "I fell in love with her straight away," she says.
"Melissa needed a fresh start," says Bullard. “She lived in this very pretty house, but it was very traditional. It was full of antiques and things she'd inherited from Joan that were antique. Joan's style was very ornate, everything went on. She used to call her style "Early Jewish Romanov". Melissa wanted to create something light and bright with positive energy, something that could be just the right setting for some of these extraordinary things, including Fabergé eggs and Han Dynasty ceramics. "
"When I went through it all and made the big sale [of Joan Rivers' property] at Christie's," says Rivers, "I remember my mom always saying," Keep what you love and sell everything else. Take the money and first, invest it, and second, buy things that you love because that's the same as I give them to you. “It was such a liberating feeling. It was so liberating. "
As for the balance she and Bullard found, Rivers says with a smile in his voice, “As formal as some areas of this house are, it never feels overwhelming. There is warmth and light, happiness. It is definitely a happy home. "
Go to the Santa Monica Villa Melissa Rivers filled with her mother's heirlooms
“I'm a terrible cook, but I love a beautiful kitchen,” says Melissa Rivers, who hired designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard to oversee the top-down redesign of her Mediterranean-style home in Santa Monica, California. The original kitchen just needed a pick-me-up. The high-end units were in great condition, and Rivers decided to make the space their own by adding blue: a blue backsplash, blue tiles, and blue cabinets. This particular blue refers to a hue found in a painting by Robert Rauschenberg that also hangs in the kitchen. "As much as I love a neutral room, the kitchen and family room just need a little color," she says. “It just wakes things up. In LA you only see these kitchens that are. "
"Growing up, I was always in a house with a nice dining room, a dining room that was great for conversation," says Rivers. "I was really lucky to find this house with a dining room big enough to hold a round table." Two sets of wall cabinets were built and installed. They house special pieces, including some of her mother's diamond-studded frames and her animals carved from agate. Padded benches have also been placed in the four corners to give the room a more comfortable feel. "I like that there is that extra space to sit," says Rivers.
Windows bring in lots of light from a small courtyard that leads to the front door. "I love a house with light," says Rivers. “And at night this room just glows. It's incredible. "Bullard added a platinum leaf ceiling not only to add shimmer to the room, but also to" honor the fact that this was sort of a museum for Joan's collections. "
"I'm a plant killer," says Rivers, who is pictured in the living room of her house. "But luckily, my gardener comes in and makes sure I haven't murdered her in a couple of weeks. It's not on purpose - I'm a great keeper, not a plant owner."
The space that is now the home office is actually one of the features that Rivers originally sold for the home. She says, “I hate feeling cramped and I never respond to houses that are lots of small spaces. And this room had all this light and all this space. “On the bookshelves are lots of her mother's awards, entire sets of encyclopedias Rivers found in the warehouse, and vintage atlases that her father, a history buff, had collected. As for the right fabric, Rivers loves this “English look” where the curtains and the chair and everything are the same. The mood also reminds her of the library in her mother's apartment.
"I love pineapples and palm trees," says Rivers. “Martyn found these palm lamps for me and I just loved them. We walked around the house until we found a place for the couple [in the family room]. “Iris, one of the family's three rescue dogs, makes herself comfortable on one of the sofas.
Rivers displays some of her mother's elaborate collections of malachite in her bedroom. “The color is so spectacular and the green fits right into that soft, soft palette of a room. It may look like my parents are pack rats, but they weren't, ”she says. "We always said that my mother is one that only rich people hoard." The pieces sit on a pair of oversized tables modeled after a Syrian design from the 19th century. Bullard says, “I love trying something exotic and I think it adds to the romance here. It works perfectly - the colors of the wood and the inlay of the table against the drama of the four-poster bed. "
“I spent months looking for the best mattresses online, and then I went to these four mattress stores on Melrose [avenue] and got on every mattress I could,” explains Rivers. "I finally decided to do that." Because the bedroom is so large, Bullard and Rivers opted for a custom four-poster bed that creates a special, cozy space. "The bedding is my nightmare," adds Rivers. “I bought the bed when the renovation started. Two years later we are finally there and they are delivering the bed and I realize that none of my sheets will fit because it is a custom size. Now I have these custom sheets of. "Bullard adds," It's the California version of the Princess and the Pea bed - a classic, but lightened, very tonal. "
The vanity in Rivers' glamorous area displays some of her favorite possessions, including a drawing her mother made of Melissa and son Cooper sitting on the beach on a family vacation, and silver fish vases that a friend brought her back from Portugal. The three black and white photos on the wall show Melissa when she was around four years old. “My father asked her good friend, photographer Kenn Duncan, to take this with him. They were either a Mother's Day or a birthday present from my father to my mother. "
“One of the things I really wanted was a glamorous dressing room and bedroom,” says Rivers. “My parents' house in Bel Air always had that. And this is where so many of our family discussions took place. When my parents go out, my dinner is brought to their room and specially to the dressing room. That way I could be with them and they could talk to me and have our family time while they get ready. "
A bathroom suite is connected to a dressing room. "The bathroom was very dark," says Rivers of the Remodel. "Dark floors, dark wood, no light, and that's how we brightened everything." The bathtub is from ("I'm more of a shower person, but I love a good bathtub") and the Chinese pagoda and garden stool are from her mother's garden in her home in New Milford, Connecticut.
Originally published on Architectural Digest

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