Entertainment Tonight’s Nancy O’Dell is a purveyor of style, both on and off the red carpet. The Emmy Award-winning entertainment journalist-turned-fashion-designer has had a long love affair with fashion, interior design, architecture and all things beautiful. Echoes of her personal aesthetic—which she calls “elegance with edge”—can be seen in her new fashion line launching this month on Evine Live, as well as in her classically styled Mediterranean home in Los Angeles. We recently caught up with the busy designer to ask about her hands-on approach to interior styling and how she personally infused warmth into each space of her house, with a little twist of fun. (She is photographed here at her gorgeous home, wearing several signature pieces from her new collection).
Previews Inside Out You describe your fashion line as “elegance with an edge.” Are there any rooms in your house that embody that aesthetic? Nancy O'Dell
Previews Inside Out You describe your fashion line as “elegance with an edge.” Are there any rooms in your house that embody that aesthetic?
Nancy O'DellYes, definitely so. At first look, I think one would describe the rooms as elegant, but the more you study them and look at individual pieces of furniture, you see the edge incorporated…many times with oversized and unexpected pieces of furniture. For example, out by our pool, we have a huge outdoor bed. And the outdoor patio really looks like it could be an indoor living room, which is one thing I really wanted to do. I love the outdoors, so I wanted to bring the indoors out and make the outdoor areas feel like rooms themselves with the furniture. Plus, even though Mediterranean style is a very elegant style, it is also an edgy style because it is very sexy, especially when you throw in a little Spanish guitar music, which we constantly have playing at our house.
Previews Inside Out Your home is Mediterranean-style house. What year did you purchase the home? Do you remember what immediately struck you when you saw it for the first time?
Nancy O'DellWe purchased the home in 2007, about a month before I gave birth to my baby girl. Talk about nesting! My husband saw the home first and called me from the tour. He was so excited on the phone and I remember telling him to calm down and not act so excited as he was with the real estate agent! I told him to not make it too obvious. As far as when I saw it for the first time, I just remember thinking, how could we have possibly have found a house that had exactly everything we wanted! It actually wasn’t even on the market when we bought it. We described to a real estate agent what we were looking for — from the number of bedrooms to the square footage to the backyard to the style — and he said you have actually just described this home that I know about to a tee and it may go on the market in about a year. I told him I was about to give birth and I couldn’t wait! He said, “Let me talk to the owner.” And the rest is history. The home never went on the market!
Previews Inside Out You’ve said in the past that you were envisioning a Mediterranean-style house from the beginning. Why were you drawn to that style, over, say something more modern?
Nancy O'DellMediterranean has always been my favorite style of home…my husband’s too! There is just something so warm and inviting about it. While I think it is fun to look at modern homes and fun to stay in modern hotels, I definitely like living in a Mediterranean home. I love EVERYTHING about the style….the warm colors, the rich wood, the Spanish tiles. And Mediterranean just feels sunny, happy and romantic to me. I feel I must have Mediterranean ancestors because I am so completely comfortable in and drawn to that style.
Previews Inside Out How much consideration was paid to keeping the Mediterranean style while bringing your unique flair to it?
Nancy O'DellThe home was built in 1929. We were very lucky in that we bought the home from an architect/contractor. He actually studied the architect who designed the home and the style of the home before bringing it up to date. So when we bought the home, he had done all the work to make it function as a modern home, yet it looked as if nothing from the original home had ever been changed. He even added a whole extra section to the house with additional bedrooms and a bigger kitchen, but you would never be able to guess which was the new part versus the old part of the home. That’s what a great job he did in honoring the history and original architecture of the house. The only thing we did was to add a barbecue area to the patio and a TV area out by the pool. Yep, that’s right, my husband needs to be able to watch golf while in the pool! But we stayed true to the architecture as well and mimicked all the other structures, so even the TV structure blends in well with the Mediterranean style.
Previews Inside Out Did you work with an interior designer, or did you work solo?
Nancy O'DellI am often asked if I were not a journalist, what would my profession be. I always say interior designer because I love interior design so much! I’m addicted to HGTV. It is why I do the Rose Parade with them every year and why I did the series, Celebrities at Home, on HGTV. As far as our home and decorating it, I really enjoyed doing most of it myself. I love being hands-on as far as working on our home. I do have an interior designer and friend, Paul Lesperance, who has helped me through the years on many houses. I will always ask him to come over and give me his opinion on things. I was lucky, though, because the furniture and accessories we already owned worked so well in the house. I have always loved Mediterranean homes, so my furniture is that style. But even the measurements worked out perfectly in our home. Therefore, we say it was meant to be our home!
Previews Inside Out If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Nancy O'DellThe only thing I would change in our home might be the master bedroom. When homes were built in the 1920s they didn’t build the bigger master bedrooms like they do today. Our master bedroom actually consists of two smaller rooms, so we use the second room as a gym. If I had the courage, I’d knock down the wall in between the two rooms and make it one roomy master, but I don’t think I can handle a remodel now. I wish we had done that a few years ago when we remodeled one of the small bathrooms. But to do another remodel….hmm…not ready quite yet!
Previews Inside Out What’s your favorite room in the house?
Nancy O'DellIronically, it is actually what I call one of our outdoor rooms…the outdoor patio. It is so peaceful out there. There is a fountain and I love the sound of water. So does my daughter. In fact, when she was a baby and she would cry, I would just walk her out to the patio and as soon as she would hear that fountain, she would stop crying and become so peaceful. That’s probably one of the reasons I love that area so much…those beautiful memories. It is also where the family hangs out a lot. Part of it is covered and we all gather to watch a football game or just have conversation. When our parents visit, we sit out there on the swing. It is just a relaxing, wonderful outdoor room with fond memories.
Previews Inside Out When it comes to entertaining in the house, what’s your favorite memory? Nancy O'Dell
Previews Inside Out When it comes to entertaining in the house, what’s your favorite memory?
Nancy O'DellMy favorite memories of entertaining at the house are of my daughter’s birthday parties. We have had the majority of her parties at the house. It has been so much fun to decorate the backyard with her and to have all the kids and parents over just to hang out. My daughter always comes up with the most creative themes and we go to town finding things to decorate with, so it becomes quite the fun mother-daughter project. It always winds up being an all-day celebration!
Previews Inside Out What are some of your favorite furniture pieces in the house?
Nancy O'DellProbably my favorite piece of furniture in the house is an antique chair that used to be in my grandparents’ house. And it was actually in my grandfather’s house when he grew up, so it has been in the family a long time. I remember visiting my grandparents as a little girl….my grandfather, who was a banker, wore a hat to work every day. He would come home from work and put his hat on that chair so meticulously every day, so that it would be ready for the next day. When I look at that chair in my house, I flashback to that, like it was yesterday. That’s one thing that I love so much about furniture. There is so much history associated with it.
Previews Inside Out What are some of your go-to places for unique finds or Mediterranean treasures?
Nancy O'DellI love antique furniture stores and hearing the history behind different pieces. Again, I think what is so special about antiques is that they tell us a story. I am so interested in the object’s journey. Actually all pieces of furniture are like songs to me. And we all know the power of an old song to trigger vivid memories, which transport us back in time. That same thing can happen when you see or think about a piece of furniture as furniture is so entwined with all the people, seasons and places in our lives.
Previews Inside Out That’s beautiful.
Nancy O'DellEven if not particularly old, you will always remember the couch in your parents’ house growing up, right? It is one reason I always try to bring home a piece of furniture or some type of decor from every trip. That way when I look at it, I will always remember that time, that moment in our lives. I have a tapestry hanging in my living room which I got in Monaco while there covering the Monaco Film Festival. I have a breakfast table I went shopping for with my mom so I’ll forever remember that day shopping with her when I look at it. I have a piece of pottery from Santorini, which I bought with my husband when we went there while dating. Whenever I look at it, I remember the romantic trip we took there. So the treasures come from around the world, but the real treasures are the memories.