Even in a town as youth-obsessed as Hollywood, a little maturity has its own compensations. Just ask Mandy Moore. The star of the NBC family drama This Is Us rose to fame as a singer in 1999, at the tender age of 15, with her debut single, “Candy.”
She played her first starring role on the big screen in A Walk to Remember in 2002. That same year Moore bought a “starter” home, a five-bedroom Mediterranean-style spread in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Feliz. “I lived there for 15 years, and even though the house went through several iterations, it never felt wholly mine,” she says. “I bought it when I was 18. I really didn’t know myself, and I never felt secure enough to bring a lot of people there.”
Many Moore, in a La Double J dress, at her house in Pasadena, California. Fashion styling by Cristina Ehrlich.
This house signifies the next chapter of my life – as an adult, a woman, and a performer.
Today Moore is singing an entirely different song. She recently wrapped shooting on the third season of her smash television show. She’s engaged to Taylor Goldsmith of the indie rock band Dawes. And the dazzling home she created for herself, her future husband, and their dogs, Joni (as in Mitchell) and Jackson, is nothing short of a declaration of independence. “This house signifies the next chapter of my life – as an adult, a woman, and a performer. I was able to pour all of who I am into making this place,” she says proudly.
After searching for nearly a year, Moore and Goldsmith found the perfect spot to begin their life together, high atop a Pasadena hill, in a classic 1950s home with sweeping vistas of the San Gabriel mountains and valley. The house was designed by Harold B. Zook, a notable but lesser-known architect who worked with modernist maestro Albert Frey in Palm Springs before hanging his shingle in Pasadena.
“We fell in love with the views, the pool, the yard, basically the whole energy of the place,” Moore recalls.
The pool area was redesigned by Terremoto.
Although the bones of the structure were fairly intact, additions and interior emendations implemented in the early 1990s obscured the structure’s spruce modern lines and quintessential midcentury vibe. “We wanted to recapture the home’s original spirit without delving into a slavish period restoration. We tried to imagine what Zook would have done if he were designing it today,” Moore explains.
To that end, the actress assembled a formidable team including architect Emily Farnham, interior designer Sarah Sherman Samuel, and Terremoto landscape designers, all of whom worked in close collaboration from the outset of the project.
“We looked at the house and realized that we could bring it back with some basic subtraction, as opposed to a complete gut renovation,” Farnham says, referring to dated surface treatments, dark oak built-ins, and, most significant, a pair of semicircular volumes attached to the kitchen and master bath. “The rounded forms made no sense with all the taut, rectilinear lines. We had to shave those warts off,” the architect explains.
With Zook’s original drawings in hand, Farnham rebuilt the tiered, streamlined cornice that zigs and zags along the roofline – a signature detail that had been replaced at some point with a decidedly less elegant alternative. She also restored and updated the blond brick walls, floors, and fireplace surround, as well as the brawny copper fireplace hood that separates the living and dining rooms.
Newly installed white terrazzo floors provide a subtly luminous foundation for the revitalized interiors. “Terrazzo is a dying art, costly and laborious, but so worth it,” Moore insists. Like most aspects of the renovation, the terrazzo treatments were a group effort: Samuel designed the jaunty pattern of triangulated brass inlays in the floor of a guest bathroom, while Farnham obsessed over the specific stone aggregate for the hefty fireplace ledge in the family room.
Samuel’s decor is a toothsome olio of vintage and contemporary, high and low, feminine and masculine. “The interiors don’t feel like they’re lost in time. There are plenty of nods to the ’50s, but there are also lots of pieces that just read as fresh, organic, and modern,” the decorator says. For Moore, the look is simply light, bright, and easy. “I don’t have a great attachment to material things,” she says. “The furniture we chose feels in line with the architecture, but there’s nothing so precious that a little wear and tear from kids or dogs would be a calamity.”
As for Goldsmith’s contributions to the project, Moore claims her fiancé largely deferred to her and the design team: “Taylor was as involved as he wanted to be. He had opinions about certain things, but his only real demands were for bookshelves – he’s a voracious reader – and room for a baby grand piano and a turntable.”
Farnham obliged by converting the ungainly hallway to the master bedroom into a proper library and lounge, with chunky bookshelves that appear to be voids carved out of monolithic volumes rather than wall-mounted surfaces assembled from a kit of parts. The piano and record player have pride of place in the living room.
Surveying her domain, Moore confesses to having become slightly addicted to the design process. “It still amazes me. We saw the potential of this house and brought it back to life. It’s hard to convey the excitement of working out every detail, from picking slabs at the stone yard to figuring out how many burners we wanted for the stove,” she explains. “Once you realize that you can actually build your true dream house, it’s hard to go back to anything else.”