When I first saw my home, it immediately felt like it was mine—it just felt like my energy, a connection. Like most old places, this traditional 1920s house came with tons of character and tons of quirks. The large property was unlike anything I’d ever seen in the Hollywood Hills, where houses are piled on top of each other.
It needed work—and lots of it—and I hadn’t been planning on diving into a huge renovation project, especially while on tour with a dance show I was doing with my brother, Derek. But I’ve always been open to big changes. You wouldn’t be reading this essay now if I hadn’t moved to Los Angeles at 18 with $2,000 in my pocket (though I definitely told my parents I had more) and a dream to become a performer.
I believe that design should be about more than just picking cool pieces and paint colors. It should create an environment that inspires an emotional state. Some people design by color, some by era, and some by furniture measurements. But I set out to make each room in my home conjure an emotion and evoke the feeling I hope to feel there. What good is a beautifully designed space if it makes you feel physically or emotionally uncomfortable?
I’ve been creating from such a young age: dancing, acting, performing. My process is intuitive, but I also do my research—lead with the heart, follow with the head. I took on the role of designing my home with the same creative process. I looked at DIYs, Pinterest, Instagram, magazines.
Sometimes random moments would plant a seed of inspiration—a flower petal might take me to another place, or a dress in a beautiful color might make me think, “Ooh, I want that on my walls!” (That’s how a wall in my basement came to be green.) I find my inspiration here, there, and everywhere. Then I went room by room to sense its feeling and connected all that inspiration—ideas, colors, textures, furniture—to create mood.
“I set out to make each room in my home conjure an emotion and evoke the feeling I hope to feel there. What good is a beautifully designed space if it makes you feel physically or emotionally uncomfortable?”—Julianne
Because it’s the center of the house, I wanted my living room to be inviting, to feel like a party could break out there at any moment. So I put in lots of seating. It’s about connection, not about gathering around a TV screen, so I had a projector mounted on the ceiling rather than an exposed TV.
The room is super comfy, full of warm color and homey texture, so I can cozy up with a glass of wine (I co-own Fresh Vine Wine with my best friend, Nina Dobrev) or watch a movie when I feel like it. Joyful and warm, it strikes a beautiful balance between an entertaining zone and a restful living room.
At first, I was dreaming of a black kitchen and thinking, “Ooh, I want to feel moody and sexy.” But I realized that I don’t want to feel moody and sexy all the time! I thought, “You know what? I want to feel young and fun in here!”
I chose this beautiful custom French blue by Portola Paints. I’ve even got a ladder purely for a design element and I love to use it to dance and sing around my kitchen, which lends the space a Beauty and the Beast vibe. My whole home is fairly whimsical, a monument to my belief that dreams come true.
I added a balcony outside my bedroom, where the California sun rises behind the Hollywood sign to greet me. I meditate there in the morning and read scripts. I wake up with peace in my heart, not anxiety. I feel ready to take on anything.
My home is truly my sanctuary. It’s a place to decompress, to feel that restorative energy. I designed it intentionally so that it would feel secure, relaxing, and inviting. Each room is different, and each room is intended to evoke a specific emotion, yet it all comes together—a peaceful tranquility that runs from the inside to the outside.
If I’m feeling depleted from work, I’ll go down to my media room, which I call the Dungeon. It’s got green Roman clay walls and a cloud couch. I might end up staying there watching Game of Thrones for eight hours straight. It’s the most comfortable, dark, cozy place in my home, but it can be dangerous because I never want to leave. This may sound odd, but I put a mattress down there; it was supposed to be temporary but it stayed for seven years. My friends and I just form a cuddle puddle and yell at the screen while watching The Bachelorette.
I built and created my home with the thought that anything is possible. I believe people feel that when they’re here. When guests come over, they’re like, “Aaaah!” They’re transported.
By Laura Morgan | Illustration by Katherine Streeter | Photograph courtesy of Kinrgy