This Home on the Sunset Strip Is Filled with Hollywood Treasures

Point to any object in this house, and movie executive Ricky Strauss can tell you a story about it.

ricky strauss
Trevor Tondro

Orli Ben-Dor: You’re a movie executive, not a decorator, and yet your home — which you designed — looks fabulous. Decorating must be in your blood!

Strauss: It actually is! My 101-year-old grandmother was an interior designer, and my aunt is one, too. I’m also a ravenous student of design. I subscribe to every shelter magazine and have read countless interiors books. I pay attention to the experts. I believe every house tells a story, and my whole career in movies has been about storytelling. At Walt Disney Studios, where I am president of marketing, we create and inhabit different worlds. I’ve worked on Star Wars, Coco, Zootopia, and Black Panther. I love the fantasy of escaping into a new place. But in my own home, it’s about my story.

This Regency-style house is very old-Hollywood. Do you have a thing for classic glamour?

Strauss: I think so. As a kid in Harrison, New York, I would sketch interiors, taking ideas from my parents’ friends’ houses. At 13, I drew an entire home, detailing all the rooms and even the family who lived there and how they entertained. The facade was uncannily similar to this house. I still have the illustrations.

ricky strauss entry
Trevor Tondro

Have you always been drawn to older homes?

Strauss: Yes. I’ve lived in a midcentury-modern, a Spanish, and most recently a Tudor across town. It was grand, dark, and foreboding. I needed a change. This house is brighter and has an infectious energy that speaks to me. It is glamorous, but on a manageable scale. The home belonged to a friend who was ready to sell. He bought it from friends, too. In fact, when I commissioned a house history, I learned that for the past 20 years, this house was owned by a series of people who knew one another.

It was meant to be! For someone who didn’t use a designer, there are a lot of decorator touches, like the green-lacquered bar.

Strauss: That was already here, which was fortunate. I’ve always had lacquered rooms in my houses, but it’s a painstaking process, so if I didn’t have to live through the trouble of creating one here, all the better. I did enlist a couple of interior-designer friends to help with a few things, particularly Ryan White, who came in to support me on my first big edit. Sometimes my maximalist tendencies can use some reining in. And then I consulted Brooke Gardner, who is always a great partner when I have a specific vision and need help making it happen. For example, I wanted gold walls in the dining room, and Brooke found artisans who hand-applied a custom finish. I even rolled up my sleeves and pitched in a bit!

ricky strauss bar
Trevor Tondro

What is the story you are telling here?

Strauss: I believe in a strictly authentic narrative at home — everything in my space is there for a reason. I’m one of those people who actually uses their good china, and I hand-carried my porcelain plates back to Los Angeles from Shanghai. See that punch bowl on the bar? I got it after we wrapped the set of The Help, a movie I worked on that meant so much to me. Behind every single thing in this house, there is a background story that makes me smile.

Sounds intriguing. Do go on...

Strauss: Well, I am particularly in love with a ceramic bowl in the living room that used to belong to Marilyn Monroe. I have always looked up to her, and I believe she epitomized Hollywood glamour. I wanted to own something of hers, and I was finally able to get this bowl at auction. But it’s hard to pick a single favorite object in my house. In the kitchen, I have a collection of porcelain pagodas that I get to enjoy every morning. Tabletop items are really important to me.

ricky strauss bed alcove
Trevor Tondro

Your bedroom is dreamy. How did you land on that airy blue?

Strauss: I’ve had dark bedrooms in the past, but this time I wanted to conjure a lighter feeling in my sleeping space. I wanted the room to make me feel happy and uplifted — like I am sleeping in the sky. I love it. The built-in bed creates a cove effect, and I upholstered the background to give the look of a headboard. I also installed wall-to-wall carpeting. I’m a huge fan of that — maybe it’s because I grew up in the ’70s, but I find it easier to vacuum, which is essential since I have dogs. It absorbs sound, so the room is peaceful and quiet. You forget that Sunset Boulevard is less than a mile away.

How did you design such a personal space yet keep the soul of this old house alive?

Strauss: With any house, new or old, I believe my role is to be a good caretaker. Even if you’re building a house from scratch, someone else will one day live there. I love living in vintage homes, within walls that speak of history. Right now, I’m just a steward of this house, doing what I can to leave my mark.

See more photos of this gorgeous home:

This story originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Natipernavigare.

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