Cue multihyphenate creative Claire Thomas—a director, decorator, and cofounder of Sweet Laurel bakery—who designed the family’s West Coast abode. For Thomas, decorating is akin to production design. “I always start from a very narrative place,” Thomas says, revealing that she and Howard describe the home’s overall aesthetic as “Wes Anderson directs a Jane Austen film.”
But before Thomas could strike the set and rebuild, she had to let in the light. “Bryce and Seth kept talking about how dark it was,” says the decorator, who has transformed her fair share of dimly lit spaces. “Oh my god, I was not emotionally prepared!” she exclaims. So Thomas finished the walls in “the dark room,” also known as the living room, with Portola Paints’ Lime Wash in Sparks, “essentially using the walls as a giant bounce card.” Elsewhere, Thomas played with color to keep things bright. “I was inspired by the Technicolor movies from the early ’40s. They’re completely bananas! The color combinations and palettes are so beautiful and fun.”
Another source of color inspiration was Howard’s grandmother’s collection of Depression glass. “I’ve never seen so much Depression glass in my life. I was like, ‘Damn, Grandma Jean,’” Thomas says. The glassware’s pastel pinks and greens are incorporated throughout the interiors. “[We thought] of Grandma Jean as the patron saint of the house,” says Thomas.
Howard’s grandmother isn’t the only family member to contribute to the home’s design. The dining room table and piano, which Howard learned to play on as a child, are on loan from Howard’s parents. “They were going to store the table, so I asked, ‘Can we store it at ours?’” she recalls. “The answer was, ‘Yes, as long as you get a very sturdy tablecloth.’”
For Howard, the finished project is an amalgamation of all things personal, from the artwork to the furnishings. The process of redecorating shifted her relationship with the home, she says. “In the end it became so much less about aesthetics and more about the place we spend our lives.” Howard says she is grateful to have spent summers and holidays in the home with family, and her own mom and dad “get to come and check on their table and piano.” With her children approaching college-age, the actor wonders how the home’s story will evolve. “It’s beautiful to be in a space where I’m able to dream about a future,” she reflects. We’ll leave it to Howard to imagine that Hollywood ending.
Shop out the look of the house here ⤵