It’s fair to say that Architectural Digest has evolved quite a bit over its 100-year history. In its earliest days, the Los Angeles–based quarterly photographed the residential wonders of California, nary a portrait in sight. Over time, AD developed into a destination not only for design, but also for peeking behind the closed doors of the world’s most stylish and fascinating personalities.
Though it's easy to forget in our current age of celebrity mania, capturing these superstars in their private spaces has been, for decades, integral to the publication’s DNA. “They humanize our glossy vision, lending charisma, personality, and context to our photography and providing an irresistible way to chart the shifting tides of taste,” writes editor in chief Amy Astley in Architectural Digest’s new book.
From George Lucas’s legendary Skywalker Ranch to Frank Sinatra’s Palm Springs compound, Bette Midler’s Beverly Hills villa to Lenny Kravitz’s idyll deep in the forests of Brazil, these forays into stars’ private realms continue to intrigue and surprise. As AD celebrates its 100th anniversary, we look back at celebrities from decades past.
Janet Jackson, March 1998, Malibu, California
Before acquiring her oceanfront residence in Malibu, Janet Jackson used a wave machine to help her sleep. “Ever since I was a kid, I'd always wanted a beach house. It was a dream that never left me,” the singer, songwriter, and actress said. Such a dream was surely realized in this light-filled space. Wood and natural fabrics, plus Jackson’s collection of African art set the stage for sweeping ocean vistas. And, of course, the home is tricked out for a pop star's life—the home gym moonlights as a dance studio, hair salon, study, and office. Read the full story.
Michael J. Fox, June 2000, New England
Following a boyhood dream to own a country home, actor Michael J. Fox called on architect Charles Myer and designer Marc Charbonnet to bring the vision to life on 80 acres of land in New England. “They’re hearth-and-home types,” said Charbonnet of Fox and his wife, Tracy Pollan, so the great room became the focus point for entertaining, dining, and relaxing. All other rooms, decorated in a warm, wood-forward country style, flow from it. Read the full story.
Mickey Rooney, September 1964, Beverly Hills
This Spanish-style house for the actor and his wife challenged decorator Maggie Kimmis of Gladdens Furniture to design for two distinct personalities. The solution was color. Each room in the home is distinctive and coordinated, from the blue dining room to the sparkling amber in the double-height entrance hall, hung with a cascading black iron chandelier. Read the full story.
George Lucas, March 2004, Marin County, California
Far from the bright lights of Hollywood, the Star Wars legend retreats into his own Skywalker Ranch, a complex of 14 buildings anchored by a Victorian-style residence. “I'm enamored with history and old things,” said Lucas. “Even Star Wars was old-fashioned. It didn't have much to do with space. It was based on a 1940s cinematic style and ancient mythology.” Though it may appear a rambling ranch to the untrained eye, tucked within are soundstages and postproduction studios, restaurants, a bed-and-breakfast, and more, all kept running by 250 employees. And, best of all, it’s a place to write. “I've always worked out of my house,” Lucas added. “I think a lot of writers do. It's a much more friendly atmosphere.” Read the full story.
Prince Charles, February 2012, Ayrshire, Scotland
When the contents of Dumfries House—a historically significant Palladian villa in Scotland—were slated to go up for auction, an unlikely hero stepped in. An advocate of British heritage, Prince Charles negotiated the estate’s purchase and (with the help of antique dealers, decorators, and architects) restored the 2,000-acre property to its former glory, including a legendary collection of British Rococo furniture featuring dozens of Chippendale pieces. Charlotte Rostek, Dumfries's curator, noted that the prince’s presence has become integral to the space. She said, “I think we all feel that he really sets the heartbeat of the house.” Read the full story.
Steven Spielberg, May 1985, Los Angeles
In Hollywood, a Santa Fe, New Mexico, pueblo-style house in the corner of the Universal Studios lot is what director Steven Spielberg once called his Los Angeles headquarters. With architect Don Smart and designer Frank K. Pennino, he crafted a fantasy of adobe, plants, and artifacts, only letting Hollywood reign in the form of a state-of-the-art screening room. Read the full story.
Lenny Kravitz, May 2019, Brazil
On an expansive former coffee plantation in the forests outside Rio de Janeiro, musician Lenny Kravitz crafted his idyll away from home, and briefly considered dropping the rock-star life to become a farmer. Across the 1,000 acres, he reinvented a village of 19th-century Portuguese colonial-style farmhouses with matchy-matchy interiors featuring a mix of furniture by midcentury masters, graphic wallpapers, and custom pieces by his firm, Lenny Kravitz Design. Read the full story.
Richard Branson, May 1996, British Virgin Islands
Is it chance that serial entrepreneur Branson owns land in the territory sharing the name of his iconic Virgin brand? As the man in question told it, “I wouldn't have bothered if it hadn't been for the name, but several of the smaller British Virgin Islands were for sale, and I was courting a beautiful woman. I could pretend to be a buyer—it would be a great weekend.” Though his lowball offer was refused at the time, years later, Branson added Necker Island to his portfolio of properties, constructing a magical retreat inspired by West Indian architecture and his travels to Bali. Read the full story.
Lily Aldridge, September 2018, Nashville
After relocating their growing family from a downtown condo to a stately Tudor Revival, the supermodel and her husband, Kings of Leon frontman Caleb Followill, called on AD100 firm Pierce & Ward to enliven the old-fashioned abode. The pair mixed colorful upholstered furniture and scavenged antiques underneath the residence’s grand archways for a medley of elegance and practical comfort. Her jet-setting schedule aside, Aldridge said, “Home is everything.” Read the full story.
Helen Mirren and Taylor Hackford, April 2007, New Orleans
The Academy Award–winning actress and her director husband couldn’t rave about New Orleans more: “The first time Taylor brought me to New Orleans," said Mirren, "all I could say was, 'I'm going to die here.'” Their former home in the French Quarter, which was acquired after spending time in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was filled with 19th-century antiques, seamlessly blending French and southern styles. “It's one of the few places that's not precious to the nth degree,” Mirren added, “it doesn't look as though its history has been cleaned up by Disney.” Read the full story.
Johnny Carson, October 1984, Malibu, California
At his beachfront abode, the television host set time aside to relax. Decorated with his collection of works by California artists and with ocean views framed by designers Stephen Tomar and Stuart Lampert, the home was both an escape and a source of inspiration—Carson’s study, where he wrote new material, was chock-full of memorabilia. Read the full story.
Mike D, March 2017, Malibu, California
At home in Malibu, Mike D of the Beastie Boys seems to live a quintessential California life. His sons bike home from the beach, throw their surfboards on a rack, and race to the outdoor shower. A dinner party can migrate seamlessly from the indoor dining room to its outdoor counterpart. D explained this indoor-outdoor living casually: “If more friends come over, boardwalks and paths lead us to the firepit, and then it's time to roll the couches aside so we can deejay.” To realize this vision, he enlisted AD100 architect Barbara Bestor, who transformed the property’s existing rambling structures into a cohesive, color-filled residence devised for family and friends. As D said, “We preserved the vibe while gaining a compound that responds to the way we live.” Read the full story.
Maria Sharapova, July/August 2019, Los Angeles
The tennis legend’s Los Angeles residence proves her design prowess. “I was obsessed with the process of making this home,” Sharapova said, who worked with the architects of KAA Design and interior designer Courtney Applebaum to realize her dream space. In a clean, minimalist style inspired by Japanese architecture, the three-story home opens with a double-height entry gallery clad in paneled concrete. And Sharapova still found room to play—a sun-drenched pool is ideal for alfresco entertaining, while the kick-back basement lounge features a bowling alley. Sharapova added, “I've traveled all over the world and enjoyed lots of incredible spaces. But my home is my absolute favorite.” Read the full story.
Sharon Osbourne, June 2011, Los Angeles
When Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne tapped AD100 designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard to imagine the interiors for their Hidden Hills home, one directive was certain: Lay off the black. Known to many for their goth sensibilities, the famous couple’s new spread reflects a pared-down but still eclectic vision. "I said to Martyn, 'Please make my house a home. Tell me, what do I lose and what do I keep, and where do I put it all?'" Sharon recalled. Read the full story.
Rob Lowe, November 2010, Santa Barbara, California
When it came to building a ground-up home on the California coast, the actor and his wife, Sheryl, thoughtfully crafted their collective vision. The resulting 20-room Georgian-style manse is sophisticated and gracious, exquisite yet comfortable. “I've always been drawn to a historic, East Coast American aesthetic,” said Lowe, a Virginia native, whose architect even traveled to Mount Vernon for research. Sheryl added, “Building from scratch, I could finally have everything we've experienced, loved, wanted to have or do under one roof—a meld of our personalities.” Read the full story.
Larry King, October 2002, Beverly Hills
As talk show host Larry King joked about his turnkey family villa in Beverly Hills, “Right: Turn the key over to your contractor along with your wallet.” In this case, the decorators in charge of transforming the 18-room house into a family home for King, his wife, Shawn, and their children were none other than Shawn’s brother- and sister-in-law, Peter Engemann and Suzanne Barnes. With details like trompe l’oeil masonry, lavishly swagged windows, and plush furnishings, the duo crafted a luxe, traditional-style home that is also, surprisingly, kid-friendly. Read the full story.
Clint Eastwood, July 1993, Carmel, California
After a first visiting Carmel’s Mission Ranch for a hot meal while he was stationed at nearby Fort Ord, actor Clint Eastwood returned to the hotel property 40 years later to buy and restore it, saving it from redevelopment in the process. Though he soon found “there’s a big difference between doing preservation and advocating preservation,” he poured his heart and resources into turning over a new leaf for the coastal property, with the help of restoration specialist Alan Williams of Carmel Development Company. Some of the now-luxurious guest rooms are decorated with furniture from the sets of Eastwood’s movies, while others are custom-made—“solid,” but “very comfortable,” he said. Read the full story.
Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber/George Clooney, November 2013, Los Cabos, Mexico
In Los Cabos, Mexico, actress Cindy Crawford and her husband, Rande Gerber, called upon architecture firm Legoretta + Legoretta to connect them, literally, with their famous neighbor. On one lot, the firm built two adjacent houses, one for the couple, and one for George Clooney, Gerber’s business partner in Casamigos Tequila, whom they often vacation with. Clooney requested a design that “would feel in harmony with the setting” so the geometric, whitewashed concrete buildings feature wood ceilings, Brazilian quartzite, and a neutral interiors palette. “They’re not twins,” said Crawford of their vacation homes. “But more like sisters or cousins.” Read the full story.
Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, July 2017, the Bahamas
On a 20-acre private island in the Bahamas, country singers Faith Hill and Tim McGraw created their own slice of family paradise with the help of architects Bobby McAlpine and Greg Tankersley, and designer Ray Booth. With an otherworldly setting, the clear solution was bring the indoors and outdoors in harmony by designing the home as a complex of pavilion-like rooms connected by open-air breezeways. The interiors were also made to match with mostly white decor and pops of color “pulled directly out of those beautiful Bahamian waters,” said Booth. Read the full story.
Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez, June 2016, Coral Gables, Florida
The baseball star’s home in South Florida was built for the long term. “I kept imagining my kids rushing home from college for the holidays,” he said of his 11,000-square-foot home, whose sleek form, overhang roofs, and indoor-outdoor connection took cues from local modernism. The interiors are mostly monochromatic, and high-style design gives deference to the athlete’s art collection—works by Basquiat, Warhol, and Lucas, included. Read the full story.
Frank Sinatra, December 1998, Palm Springs, California
Singer Frank Sinatra’s legendary Palm Springs compound proves that luxury and comfort can go hand in hand. Filled with decor in the orange color he so loved, the midcentury house was where he came to relax, paint, read, play with his model trains, and entertain within the desert community of creatives where he mingled. Read the full story.
Joni Mitchell, July 1976, Los Angeles
“I was afraid of decorators until I got to know Sally,” said singer Joni Mitchell, referring to designer Sally Sirkin Lewis who crafted her “colorful, charming, free” home in a 1920s Bel Air manse. Earth tones and fishtail palms mark the 14-foot-tall living room, while in the bedroom, Mitchell let Lewis go wild with forest green, after a bit of convincing. The designer also made room for Mitchell’s collections: Navajo baskets and Eskimo decor finds a home among her 18th-century urns and Tiffany floor lamp. Now, said Mitchell, “My house in California is like me.” Read the full story.
Ellen Pompeo, November 2014, Los Angeles
For actress Ellen Pompeo and family, AD100 designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard revamped a 1930 Mediterranean-style villa that was originally designed by architect Paul Williams for silent-film star Antonio Moreno. “The house was scrubbed of patina” after various remodels, said Bullard, “so we went to great lengths to revive a sense of age and dignity.” Taking it down to its studs, he worked with Pompeo to reconfigure everything from the flow of the rooms to materials, finishes, and finally, furnishings: bold, luxurious, and appropriately overscale. Read the full story.
Bette Midler, July 1984, Beverly Hills
The actress’s 1929 Spanish Colonial Revival villa was “what my father would call a fixer-upper,” she quipped. “I called it ‘The Dowager.’” So she bought the “ramshackle” home and set about on the project to revive it, hiring designer Joseph Murphy to assist in the renovation and decoration. The result turned a dark and serious home into a light and appealing one, though Midler requested it be constantly in flux: All furnishings are movable “to keep life from being a bore.” Read the full story.
Cara and Poppy Delevingne, September 2019, Los Angeles
With a chance to build a “dream sister house” in Los Angeles, Cara and Poppy Delevingne called on Nicoló Bini of LINE Architecture to reinvent a 1950s villa. Bini cited “California midcentury modern, Laurel Canyon bohemia, Beverly Hills swank, surfing culture, and a little Mexico” as design inspirations for the abode, where palm frond fabrics, pastel velvets, and rattan feature heavily in the interiors. Both women were “great editors,” said Bini, and let their personalities shine: While Poppy requested a de Gournay jungle-themed wallpaper in her bedroom, Cara that insisted on installing a carpet-lined pole room. Read the full story.
Ryan Seacrest, January 2008, Los Angeles
The television host extraordinaire called on designer Jeff Andrews to make his rambling Hollywood Hills villa into an oasis. “I wanted it to feel like I was away from the hustle and bustle of the city,” said Seacrest, so Andrews dreamed up a “contemporary Mediterranean mélange” full of dark wood and furnishings that evoke an old-world charm. Read the full story.
Candice Bergen, November 1994, Beverly Hills
At her West Coast home, actress Candice Bergen asked her decorator Karin Blake to create a warm, '40s-style cottage. “When we saw this place, I loved that it looked like California 50 years ago,” said Bergen of the family abode, where all main rooms open onto a courtyard. Florals and antique furniture dominate the interiors, where everything is bathed in sunlight. Read the full story.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest