Ellen Pompeo's Anatomy of a Home Remodel

By Mayer Rus

Hanging in the living room of actress Ellen Pompeo's Los Angeles home is an arresting painting by Claire Fontaine: Printed on a cherry-red background is a snippet from remarks that fashion designer Marc Jacobs made about his 2007 collaboration with artist Richard Prince, in which the duo puckishly updated Louis Vuitton's venerable handbags. "When something is so respected, you can turn it into something else, so that you are looking at it anew," the piece reads. "Reinvention is invention."

"That says it all," Pompeo proclaims, standing in front of the painting. "Everything has been done before, so the question becomes, 'How do you take something classic and make it fresh for a new generation?' "

She's not talking about luxury handbags or even "Grey's Anatomy," her phenomenally successful television series, which recently began its 11th season of hospital drama and high jinks. Rather Pompeo%VIRTUAL-pullquote-When Pompeo says, "I love a project," she means it.% is referring to the 1930 house she shares with her husband, music producer Chris Ivery, and their two daughters, five-year-old Stella Luna and baby Sienna May. Thanks to a recent top-to-bottom makeover, it's the very soul of reinvention.

Located in the Los Feliz neighborhood, the 16,000-square-foot Mediterranean-style villa was crafted by the architect Paul Revere Williams for Antonio Moreno, a silent-film matinee idol. Williams famously worked in a variety of elegant modes -- from Tudor to Colonial to streamlined modern -- catering to a clientele that also included Frank Sinatra, Tyrone Power, and Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

By the time Pompeo and Ivery acquired the property in 2009, it had lost much of its original charm. Numerous renovations had erased period details, the structure was riddled with asbestos and lead pipes, and parts of the grounds were badly neglected. When Pompeo says, "I love a project," she means it.

To help with the task of "giving the house the attention it desperately needed," as Pompeo puts it, she enlisted L.A. decorator Martyn Lawrence Bullard, with whom she's designed two previous homes. Together they conceived a wholesale metamorphosis attuned not to some nostalgic, satin-draped notion of Hollywood glamour -- despite the dwelling's pedigree -- but to the vibrant spirit of a design-savvy actress at the top of the Tinseltown game today.

Having resolved to take the building down to its studs, Pompeo and Bullard seized the opportunity to rethink everything from room configurations and spatial flow to materials and finishes. Windows were enlarged to enhance light and capture sweeping vistas. Existing floors, mostly polished wood, were swapped out for vintage limestone pavers, reclaimed terra-cotta tiles, and planks of textured French oak. And antiqued moldings were added. "The house was scrubbed of patina over the years, so we went to great lengths to revive a sense of age and dignity," Bullard explains.

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Tour Ellen Pompeo's Los Angeles family home.

Also see: Gorgeous Fireplaces of Celebs