At Home in Laurel Canyon
A rustic retreat in the Hollywood Hills transforms into a whimsical treehouse thanks to the personal touch of a celebrity makeup artist and her film industry beau.
Images: Sami Drasin
Since the 1960s, Laurel Canyon has been a well-known haven for musicians and movie stars who wanted to escape the city while remaining within Hollywood’s reach. As a celebrity makeup artist, Compass client Lauren Andersen needed to be centrally located, but she wasn’t much of a “city girl.” So, she headed for the hills.
Upon discovering a two-bedroom, cabin-style retreat from the ’60s ripe for reinvention, she repainted the barnyard-red exterior an inky black to accentuate the natural surroundings. Then she tackled the interior space and designed an open floor plan, adding a loft-like feel to the lodge vibes. She also expanded the bathroom and closets, put in French doors that open into the backyard, and upgraded the roof deck.
Her boyfriend, screenwriter and director Brinton Bryan, moved in later, bringing with him more color, texture, and craftiness. He built accent pieces and custom bookshelves, even transforming a television console into a conversation-starting fish tank for their bohemian living room. “It’s the one thing that everyone comments on when they walk into the house,” Lauren says.
Over the years, Lauren and Brinton created site-specific art together, found one-of-a-kind vintage pieces to elevate the space, and transformed the multi-level backyard into a whimsical wonderland. Their Chihuahua mix, Roni, grew up in this house, and it was perfect for the three of them. But once the couple decided they would need more space to accommodate a growing family, there was only one problem: parting with the charming home that had become such an extension of themselves.
What initially drew you to this space? Was there a certain feature of the home that spoke to you?
It wasn’t so much the space as the property that attracted me. When I looked out the front door, all I could see was nature, including three 60-foot pine trees. Sited on a corner lot, it’s really a little hidden oasis in the city. That view sold me immediately.
What was your vision for the interior design?
Every piece in the house has sentimental value. There are pieces from my travels around the world — antiques from Italy, light fixtures from Istanbul, rugs from Morocco — that remind me how I felt in those places. It’s an eclectic mix of things we’ve created together: family heirlooms, gifts from friends, and things we’ve collected that form an expression of us.
How did the design change when Brinton moved in? Did you rework the space together to make it more of a co-creation?
Absolutely. My initial vision for the house completely changed with his influence. I wanted everything to feel very white and airy, and he opened me up to introducing a bit more color. He brought more excitement to the space. And our styles worked well together.
Tell me more about your collective style.
My obsession with wood pairs well with his Texan love of worn leather. For example, our vintage black leather couch from the ’70s was handmade from a tree trunk — it’s a perfect example of our styles combined. I think we both share a playful style as well, which we brought into the outdoor spaces. We created kind of a playground in the backyard with the tipi, lights, and fabric sails covering the patio.
And what are some of the pieces that speak to you individually?
Brinton loves Star Wars, so he brought the Jedi influence into our design; he has Luke Skywalker’s autograph hanging above his writing desk, and there are some Star Wars figurines inside the fish tank console. Meanwhile, the copper cactus art piece in the living room is very me — those peachy gold, copper tones are my favorite colors. It reminded me of a piece my aunt had growing up, so there’s also a nostalgic feel to it.
What has your experience been like working with Compass? How did you connect with your Compass agent Naz Nowtash?
Brinton was friends with Naz, and he had a great working relationship with her already. Naz has held my hand through this whole process. This is my first home, and it’s a very sentimental space, so it wasn’t an easy decision to let go of it.
As soon as we’d get close to selling it, I’d get cold feet…and we went through that back-and-forth process for about a year. Naz was so patient, and she never pressured me. I really appreciated her understanding and support; she made a difficult process feel so easy and gentle for me.
Where are you headed next?
I’m pregnant, so that was part of our decision to find something bigger for our growing family. Essentially, we wanted the same place but with more room, so we found another home in Laurel Canyon. It’s a 3-bedroom, and the bedroom doors open to gorgeous outdoor spaces, which gives us that flow we love so much. And I’m sure we’ll be vintage shopping on day one—we just can’t help it!