Elle Decor rarely pimps big-name celebrities on its covers—it's been more than a year since the Ellen Pompeo feature—but this month the magazine is changing things up by making a cover girl out of actress Courteney Cox. Cox and David Arquette purchased their five-bedroom oceanfront Malibu estate, built in 1950, in late 2006 and subsequently enlisted interior designer Trip Haenisch to create a look that Haenisch now describes as "modern barn." Here we talk to Haenisch about Cox's home—what Elle Decor editor in chief Michael Boodro happens to call "one of the most idyllic places I've ever been." The issue hits newsstands June 28, but we're previewing the photos after the jump.
So, tell us—you must have been pretty psyched to learn that you were going to be on the cover of Elle Decor. When'd you find out?
I think they said that we had a good shoot at the cover, but I don't know, I guess not too long ago.
You must have flipped.
It's nice, you know, I've done this for a long time and at one point had a partner so now that I'm doing stuff on my own, I've worked really hard on a bunch of projects, and it's nice that people are seeing what I've done on my own.
So, we understand Courteney bought this place a few years ago. What was it like when you first saw it?
It was disjointed—it was zoned for two lots. Obviously it was all aout the view, because you're kind of perched up for this incredible view of the Pacific Ocean. Courteney looked at it and kind of liked the privacy that it would provide her with—the main house had brown wood, old fireplaces, and it was kind of funky. And the first thing I said was that we wanted it to feel like it's a compound. We wanted it to feel like it has been here always.
Can you describe your working relationship a bit? How did you evolve the vision for the house together?
It kind of happened organically. I think initially she was working with an architect and it didn't click very well and it made her more confused, and that's when she called me. I always do heavy research on different possibilities for how I see things might work, and I pull tons and tons of pictures. We looked at barns and there was siding. In most cases the wood went vertically, but we saw one picture—I don't even know where the picture was from—where the siding went horizontally. It looked great.
We started from there and started calling this a "modern barn." My real love in terms of design is "organic modern." I kind of live that way. You know, just having those different surfaces: the stone out by the pool that went into the screening house and the kitchen area, the oak floors in the living area. It's all kinds of textures.
This "modern barn"—what does that actually mean here?
It's good for me to have a philosophy with things and what I'm seeing in the bigger picture, so when when you start coming down and answering questions and different details a lot of the times the philosophy will supply you with the answer. My whole thing was that this used to be an old barn that got renovated. If that's the case, there were going to be certain things that would be more traditional and there would be other things that might get modernized. A fireplace might be something in the barn that you might keep—and if that were the case then it wouldn't be a modern fireplace, it would be old and traditional. With the interiors and stuff, that's where you can add more modern things. I wanted it to feel like there was this great old house that was contemporized.
What other general philosophies guide your work?
I try to be open and I love collaborating. I would say, though, that I get involved in architecture because if the box doesn't look right, then the furniture I buy and put in there doesn't look right. It's almost been out of that necessity that I taught myself how to do interior architecture. Typically I don't like architecture that gets too gimmicky—if you're going to do something that's a little bit weird or twisted up, I prefer to do it with the artwork and furnishings.
Looking back on the project, what elements of or pieces within the home do you like most?
I love the light that hovers over the L-shaped sofa in the living room, I like the Wegner wishbone chair—we covered that in teddybear fabric and you just melt it in it—and I like the Jacques Adnet étagère, which is covered with Hermès leather. I like the light over the pool table, too. Courtney said she was rarely going to need space for sit-down dinners, so it seemed silly to use that room as a dining room. So I asked, "What's something that you would really use?" She said, "You know, it'd be really fun to have a pool table off the bar." And they use it all the time.
And if you had to change any one thing now that all is said and done, what would that be?
I don't know, I'm pretty happy. Oh, the place where Elle Decor did a photo with her on the cover—I'm dying to an outdoor rug out there, but Courteney doesn't want one.
I don't know! She didn't give a reason. I think it's because she doesn't believe outdoor rugs actually work, even though there are all these weatherproof and waterproof fabrics out there now. When I met her and she was living in her [former house designed by architect John] Lautner, everything was kind of low slung—people would lounge on pillows by the fireplace. She gives people who come there really permission. So I feel that if there's an outdoor rug there you could really do that—you know, hang out by the fireplace, have a glass of wine, just relax.
I hope she invites you over to do just that!
I gotta drink a bottle of wine with her and the maybe she'll finally let me put a rug in.
Photos by Simon Upton
· Ellen Pompeo at Home [Elle Decor]
· Courteney Cox's Private Retreat [Elle Decor]
· Cox/Arquette's Malibu Home [Curbed LA]
· CelebrityWatch: Lautner Porn [Curbed LA]
· Trip Haenisch and Associates [official site]