The Los Angeles home that actress Sasha Alexander (Rizzoli & Isles, Yes Man) and director husband Edoardo Ponti purchased has been described as a cross between a prehistoric cave and a vampire den. “It didn’t have a lot of light. It had a lot of dark, painted walls—like dark blues, reds, and oranges—so it felt a little like a caveman’s house,” Alexander says. Interior designer Estee Stanley (also Domaine’s editor-at-large) had a different perspective when she first viewed the property: “It was probably one of the ugliest houses I’d ever seen. It almost looked like a set of True Blood. It was literally like faux-finish oranges and reds—crazy.”Alexander, Ponti, and Stanley were all in agreeance about one thing, though: the Spanish-style home had fantastic architecture, including beautiful archways, elegant built-ins, and charming windows. “When my husband and I saw it, we both fell in love with it immediately,” Alexander says. “The home had great bones and a lot of character.” Despite its vampiric associations, Stanley also saw the light: “The house itself… I could see that it could be fantastic.”First, Alexander decided, “the most important thing to do was to strip the house down to its bare bones, which was white, and to add a lot of light to it.” Stanley replaced practically everything in the house that could be: “We added all new doors, bigger doors that lead to outside, new floors, all-new bathrooms, and a brand-new kitchen,” she says. “We painted and staining all the woods. We did literally everything.”A Danish architecture book that Alexander had discovered became the inspiration for much of the new woodwork through the home. “I found this amazing wood in it which was whitewashed oak, and I loved its warmth,” she says. They ended up using it throughout the house: in the kitchen cabinetry (along with other white cabinets), the master bathroom cabinetry, and custom armoires in the master bedroom, which Stanley designed. “I think it brings a continuity to the house, which was something that Estee taught me,” Alexander says. “It’s okay for things to be the same in different rooms. That’s what brings stuff together.”When it came time to decorate, Stanley says she and her clients were “really all on the same page with style.” Stanley mixed the couple’s existing collection of French and Italian antiques (including a set of ancient French Louis XV dining chairs) with thoughtful fabric selections, custom-made pieces, and new modern designs, tying the home’s Spanish-style architecture in with a more fresh, contemporary California lifestyle. Ponti, an Italian-American who was born in Switzerland (to actress Sophia Loren, no less), “is European so he loves that eclectic vibe,” the designer says. “I think that makes it feel more homey to him.” In fact, Ponti has even coined a term for their style: “urban romantic.” “Because it’s lot of wood, steel, big windows, French windows, it’s warm, yet chic,” Alexander says.
With the exception a few touches of color in the children’s rooms (Lucia, 8, and Leonardo, 4), the trio agreed on a subdued base for the house. “I think all of us really love more of a neutral palette because it’s just more soothing and calming,” Stanley says. Alexander admitted she worried that going all-white could look boring, but Stanley convinced her that “bringing in other textures and colors with fabrics and wood and things like that,” would keep things interesting—and they certainly did. In addition to the home’s soothing color palette, Alexander says, “The house had good energy when we first walked in… and it still does.” What more could you ask for?