By Ellen DeGeneres

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Beloved comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres shares her passion for home design, a look at her homes, and the secrets she has learned over twenty-five years of renovation and decoration.

Ellen DeGeneres has bought and renovated nearly a dozen homes over the last twenty-five years, and describes her real-estate and decorating adventures as “an education.” She has long cared deeply about design: “I think I wanted to be an interior designer when I was thirteen.”

This deluxe edition of Home is printed on extremely high quality paper, printed on a sheet-fed press, and bound in a real cloth covered case with a tipped in photo of Ellen DeGeneres’ living room featuring her Picasso.

In Home, DeGeneres will, for the first time, share her passion for home design and style. She believes, “You don’t have to have money to have good taste,” and she is eager to share what she has learned over the years. DeGeneres offers a personal look at every room in each of her homes. Included are seven of her homes past and present, from the famous “Brody House” up to her current homes, and she offers tips and advice on what each house taught her. An added bonus is a look at the homes of her friends and collaborators-some of the finest designers in the country. They share their advice on home design, furnishings, as well as a glimpse at their awe-inspiring rooms.

Full of beautiful photographs, this book is a treasure trove of amazing California architecture, unique home furnishings, breathtaking art, and hundreds of ideas on putting together the home you’ve always dreamed of.


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Table of Contents


Copyright Page

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Hi, everyone! And welcome home. Welcome to Home. Welcome to my homes. Welcome. This book is all about—you're never gonna believe this—the home! It's about my current home, my former homes, what makes a home a home, and what you can do to make your home homier. The word "home" will appear in this book nine million times.

How do I know so much about this, you ask? Don't I usually write humorous books chock-full of observational anecdotes and sharp wit? Well, first of all, thank you for being so inquisitive and also complimentary. I wasn't expecting that. And the answer is this: I have had a passion for interior design for as long as I can remember. In fact, interior design is what I would do if I wasn't a comedian and talk show host. And when you really think about it, they're not that different. As a talk show host, I sit and talk with beautiful people all day. Some are young, some are a little older. They all have fun quirks that make them interesting and unique. They have a story to tell. They have outstanding bone structure, and yet what really matters is what's on the inside. It's the same with houses. Some are young, some are older. They all have quirks that make them interesting and unique. They have a story to tell and great bones, but what really matters is what's on the inside. And after you've spent a little bit of time with each one and learned what you can, it's time to bring out the next house. I mean, guest. I mean, both.

Yes, it's true. I move a lot. It's well documented. A lot of people don't understand it. Most folks grow up in one home and spend most of their adult life in another home, and to them that's normal. But for me and the conch shell crab, it's not normal. Normal to us is finding a shell that suits us for a while until we outgrow that shell and then find another shell to crawl into. But unlike the crab that chooses the same type of shell, each one bigger than the last, my taste in styles and sizes of homes is varied. I've gone from traditional to midcentury to contemporary to Italianate. I have downsized as often as I've upsized.

As corny as it sounds, to me, home is where the heart is. (Note to self: That's a great phrase. Look into trademarking.) So moving houses is just another way in which I get to experience life. I mean, I get that moving from house to house isn't appealing to everyone. After all, it's right up there in stressors with death and losing a job. In my case, I could add hosting the Oscars to that list, and moving houses two days after hosting the Oscars. But the truth is, moving has always been fun for me, not stressful. To understand why, you must first understand where my desire to constantly move comes from… and it's not just from writing an essay on conch shell crabs in the sixth grade.

My family moved a lot. Not out of state, just to different areas of the city of New Orleans, where I was born. And by living in different houses, I discovered that each one came with a different personality—different molding, different ceiling heights, different surfaces and floors. But we never owned any of these houses, only rented. So in addition to moving from rental to rental, we spent most Sundays as a family going to open houses. I not only loved seeing all the different types of architecture, from typical New Orleans bungalows to Spanish, ranch style, and traditional, but it was interesting to see how different people lived, the furniture they used, the way they decorated, what kind of food they had in the fridge, what kinds of medicine they were taking.

Although I wouldn't realize it until later, those Sundays spent at open houses were the beginning of my passion for design and owning houses. The houses I saw as a kid were probably about $60,000 to $80,000 (it was the '60s in New Orleans) and we couldn't afford them. I didn't know that at the time; I imagined each one of them might be our first home, especially if we went back to look at it a few times. But we never even made an offer. And that is why as soon as I was even close to being able to afford a house, I bought one.

My first house was $250,000, and at thirty years old, I was a homeowner. Once I was in the market it was easy to parlay that first house into another, better house (I discovered as an added bonus, real estate is a good investment), and as my career and my bank account kept growing, I found that all I wanted to do was find a new and better design project. My financial success in my career enabled my passion for design to grow as I learned about furniture and architecture with each new home.

So that's my story. I love houses and I love design. This book is a collection of houses I've lived in (or at least the ones I've photographed), stores where I love to shop for special pieces, and the houses of friends who inspire and educate me. You'll see themes running through each house, like a love of nature and a seamless feeling of indoor and outdoor spaces. You'll also see that there are some very simple, effortless things you can do to make little improvements to your own homes. Things like putting some lemons in a bowl. They provide instant cheer and a wonderful scent. I should point out that effortless doesn't mean lazy. You can't leave the lemons there until they start to mold and stink up the joint and be like "No, it's fine, Ellen said I should put lemons there last October." But for a while, they'll be a great addition to any room.

So I hope you enjoy this book du design (doesn't that sound French and fancy?! It's neither!) and I hope you learn a little something. I mean, you've already learned about the conch shell crab, and that was just the beginning.



Every weekend, Portia and I look at real estate listings. Actually, that's a lie. We look every day. It's our version of the comics. It's funny, though, because my favorite way to actually shop for homes is at dinner parties. This has happened a few times. We first saw this house when we were invited over to watch American Idol, and before we had seen three contestants sing, we were negotiating price/square footage with our host. So, what I'm saying is, don't invite us over unless you're ready to move out.

The main home was originally built by Buff & Hensman for actor Laurence Harvey in 1963, and it is has great bones (its footprint was expanded right before we bought it, which gave it a lot more square footage). And we could have (probably should have) stopped there. But we decided to make it even better by buying the two surrounding properties when they became available. It was very exciting to be able to buy those other homes. And it seemed like a good idea at the time, as it gave us total privacy, and what was pretty much a compound. It was a really beautiful property and we loved it there. In fact, we got married there.

This seating area includes one of my absolute favorite chairs, the Egg chair by Arne Jacobsen. It's complemented by a rare Polar Bear sofa by Jean Royère, as well as the low PK61 coffee table by Poul Kjaerholm and the marble-top Biedermeier occasional table. They all sit on top of an antique Malayer rug from the early nineteenth century. In the background, I used an eighteenth-century French architectural element as a podium for an antique African necklace.

A Ping-Pong table by Rirkrit Tiravanija fills the entryway. A Spanish colonial bench creates a nice contrast with the Serge Mouille chandelier and sconces and nineteenth-century Agra carpet.

In the main living room, a pair of slipcovered sofas creates a nice seating area alongside a cocktail table by The Melrose Project, Louis XVI Bergeres, the Avalon blanket by Hermès, and a vintage fringed throw found at Pat McGann. A mixed media sculpture by Catherine Willis hangs over the fireplace.

This great vintage library ladder displays a mask from my collection of African art. The stool is by Clarke & Reilly, and the eighteenth-century table from Axel Vervoordt is positioned below a vintage lamp from Jean Prouvé.

I like creating little vignettes wherever I can, like this eighteenth-century carved stone bust, eighteenth-century Italian table with bluestone top, and a section of a nineteenth-century artist's model.

We added a screened porch for some outdoor seating and paired this nineteenth-century trestle table with wicker armchairs.

In our breakfast room, an eighteenth-century French worktable is paired with a set of stackable chairs by Gijs Bakker. The drawing to the left is by Bill Traylor and the torchiere is by Waldo Fernandez. The cocktail table is nineteenth-century Belgian and sits on an antique Kerman rug from J. Iloulian.

One of my favorite features of the kitchen was this custom-made glass display cabinet. The range is by Wolf. The rugs are antique Khotans and Malayers and the beautiful floor is made from reclaimed teak beams from China.

This house had lots of bedrooms because those are important, after all. But we also had a game room where we could play our absolute favorite game, poker. There was a fantastic gym and a whole separate studio where Portia could paint. It was a great place for big parties. I remember one party in particular where I caught Diane Keaton—who also loves interior design—measuring my kitchen by stretching her arms out across each wall. At least I think that's what she was doing. Maybe she was just hugging my oven. Either way, she was a fan of this house and we were, too.

The main stumbling block of this house was the very large living room—I could never get that room quite right, to the point where it felt intimate and comfortable. We worked with Tommy and Kathleen Clements. We worked with Cliff Fong. We adjusted and readjusted and moved everything around. And then we did it again. That's the fun of it for me. When you leave furniture in one place for too long, it gets stale. I have been known to stay up quite late (sometimes as late as eleven!) rearranging furniture until I'm completely satisfied. It's very fun to do. The only problem is when you wake up in the middle of the night to get some water and you forget you moved the credenza right in the middle of your normal walking path. And then Bam! You've stubbed your entire lower body and spewed words you only hear in Martin Scorsese movies.

But I digress. We really loved this house and tried to make it work. Outside, we added a pond. We planted a mini orchard of trees. We Garden of Edened out. Then we learned that unlike the Garden of Eden, those trees didn't tend themselves; a compound requires a whole lot of gardening, and a big house requires a whole lot of dusting. In the end we decided we didn't want to live that way. And so we decided to move and, this time, to downsize.

We like shoes. This is our shoe closet, with a vintage Louis Vuitton jewelry case and vintage American sign.

The limestone countertops, stained walnut vanities, and Moroccan mirror created a warm and organic feeling in the master bath. The wooden bowl and the low-back Windsor chair are both nineteenth-century American and the seed sculpture is by Kevin Inkawhich.

The antique Asante stool is perfect for resting towels outside the shower and bath. The tub is constructed from marble slabs. To the right is an antique throne/chair from Central Africa.

Here's a view of the exterior of our home with the koi pond in the foreground. We added this after purchasing the adjacent property.

In the living room of the guesthouse, we created a cozy, eclectic space with an easy chair and ottoman by Mogens Koch, a folding campaign chair by Mogens Koch, an antique leather chesterfield and a deconstructed nineteenth-century tufted English chair. An industrial worktable is used as a console underneath the television and an early American cobbler's table sits in front of the sofa. The collection of vintage and antique portraits, including one of a seventeenth-century courtesan, adds some additional quirks to the room. The library ladder is early nineteenth century.

Some books and a few trophies on display in and around our nineteenth-century cabinet and desk.

This vintage industrial cabinet was paired with a cozy Victorian settee. The eighteenth-century Italian santo figure, antique medicine balls, and nineteenth-century bronze table added a little more character to the room.


1. In getting started, it's worth considering how you want a room to feel. Should it be formal, casual, fun and friendly, minimal and quiet, warm and cozy? Having an idea ahead of time can really help you in putting it all together.

2. I usually start with a key piece in each room and design around it. In a dining room, it's the table. In the living room, it's the sofa. It's much easier to do this than to add the large, dominant piece of furniture at the end and hope that it works with everything around it.

3. If you have an oddly shaped room, dividing it with different kinds of furniture can help ensure you use the space well. In a living room, for instance, take the largest, most obvious area for seating. Don't try to cram too much in. If you don't have room for a sectional, use a sofa, and if you don't have room for a sofa, use a loveseat. Build around the furniture you have space for. Then use the remaining space as you see fit. Maybe add an area for reading with a nice comfy chair, or a game table for poker or puzzles.

4. If you have animals, probably stay away from owning a rocking chair.

5. If you have the freedom to build, adding a screened porch is a nice way to enjoy the outdoors and feel protected from pests.

6. Books really help warm up any room, even if you don't have bookshelves.

7. Emmys really warm up a room as well.


On Sale
Oct 27, 2015
Page Count
256 pages

Ellen DeGeneres

About the Author

Ellen DeGeneres is a beloved stand-up comedian, television host, bestselling author, and Emmy-winning actress. She hosts the syndicated talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show and is the Executive Producer of Ellen’s Design Challenge. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Seriously . . . I’m Kidding, published by Grand Central.

Learn more about this author