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Let’s Snoop Around Diane Keaton’s California ‘Farmhouse’

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While watching her Instagram stories.

A collage of farmhouse style decor, including white brick, hanging cookery, shiplap, white subway tiles, and a kitchen. Getty Images/Shutterstock

During the pandemic, Diane Keaton — like other celebrities — started broadcasting short, three-minute Instagram videos from her very nice Brentwood, California, home. The house in question is an 8,000-square-foot brick home she designed and built in 2017 in what could be best described as a kind of sophisticated yet rustic ‘modern farmhouse’ style. She even wrote a book about making it, The House that Pinterest Built (Rizzoli, 2017), in which she pointed to The Three Little Pigs as her inspiration: “I knew I was going to live in a brick house when I grew up.” Before building this place, she spent years buying, renovating, moving in, and then flipping houses. Her most recent videos showcase, according to Keaton, “MY DOG, EMMIE!!!”, her hat collection, and how to make a taco, among other things. But they also give us a chance to snoop around (and judge!) Keaton’s decor style.

Sliding barn doors: Whether they are repurposed from an old building or brand new, barn doors are a prerequisite in the modern farmhouse. Keaton’s barn doors look like they were custom made for her house. In a video examining her belt collection, the doors roll on antique style hardware that features a large spoke wheel and a dark, ironlike finish. What’s new? What’s old? It’s hard to tell in this custom home that’s neither old nor actually a farmhouse.

Whitewashed, antique-looking furniture: Even more than it requires barn doors, the farmhouse look requires whitewashed furniture. Keaton’s belt collection is displayed on a worn-looking wooden table that sits in her closet, paired with a simple Quaker–style black chair and an oversized polka-dot lampshade hanging overhead. There is a similar scene in another room where Keaton shows her 20-plus hat collection on a superlong table, this version unfinished with scrapes on its worn, reeded legs. Whether in reaction to ‘80s excess or the recession of 2008, whitewashing and restoring furniture is above all a DIY hack, something that a humble homeowner can accomplish with a few cans of paint or stain. However unlikely it is that Keaton whitewashed her own furniture in her multimillion-dollar house, her use of the trope conjures up the same feeling: a little bit homegrown, a little bit country.

Chicken Wire: Keaton’s kitchen is so large it takes an eternity to fetch a fork, but she maintains its farmhouse authenticity with chicken-coop accents. Her kitchen cabinets are faced with chicken wire, which offers a semi-exposed look into their perfectly organized interiors. Hanging below the exposed wooden beams and expansive skylights are (according to the experts at Country Living) actual chicken coops repurposed into pendant lights. With rough metal edges and a barely-there company name stamped on the side, Keaton’s chicken lights proclaim “salt of the earth!” even as she makes veggie tacos in a giant kitchen in a Halloween dress in July.

Painted White Brick: Like Joanna Gaines on HGTV, Keaton prefers all things neutral. There are no maximalist textiles in her house, and while she left a few interior brick walls their natural color, much of the brick is painted white. In budget redos featured on Fixer Upper, the cultural paragon of all things farmhouse, Gaines chooses white because it’s fresh, clean, and — most importantly — it can hide the flaws of the run-down properties she flips in Waco, Texas. Budget is an unlikely factor in Keaton’s house, but the white brick remains.

Vintage cookery: Whether it’s a natural-fiber hanging broom or Keaton’s varied collection of vintage pizza peels, no modern farmhouse is complete without the visual reminder that, at some point in history, people cooked and cleaned in farmhouses. It’s highly unlikely that Keaton uses the aforementioned pizza peels (although she does presumably wear the hats hanging above them), but the practical utility of such pieces doesn’t negate their performative value. They sit against a white-walled backdrop, admired until forgotten, waiting to be of use.

The kitchen island is bigger than many apartments: The oversized farmhouse sink photographed in Architectural Digest isn’t visible in Keaton’s taco-making video, but we do get a glimpse of her massive island. The whole thing looks like a better version of the dream kitchen from the 2003 movie Something’s Gotta Give that she starred in with Jack Nicholson.

White subway tile: If chicken coops and hanging, unused cookery hint at the farmhouse style’s country roots, white subway tile gives it urban industrial cred. In the first frame in the video entitled Diane By Design: Diane Goes To Goodwill, white subway tile forms the backdrop for four staged boiler hats. It also might remind you of pretty much any fast-casual restaurant decor from the last decade.