Step Inside Nina Dobrev's Bright California-Cool Bungalow
A ping-pong table and a ball gown were among the first things to enter onto the scene of actress Nina Dobrev’s edgy West Hollywood abode. The 1929 Spanish-style four-bedroom home, chicly outfitted into a sleek and cosy modern bungalow with the help of Consort Design (the L.A. design team helmed by MyDomaine’s former editorial director Mat Sanders and his partner Brandon Quattrone), channels a clever juxtaposition of effortless California cool and luxe sophistication.
“I gravitate toward open, spacious homes,” Dobrev tells us. “Light and bright is my favorite aesthetic. Maintaining the original character and history of the space was important.” Original crown molding and dramatic arches adorn the living room, flush with natural light and complemented by organic materiality in the way of soft-hued linens and warm woods. “A house has a soul and a journey. I’m just a small step and a passenger on the path of this home. It has good energy. You can feel that people have lived here. There is a Zen vibe.”
Teaming with Consort, Dobrev sought to balance the original Mission-style architecture with modern counterpoints. The artfully imperfect aesthetic is laden with intelligent accents and soulfully curated details collected from Dobrev’s travels both stateside and abroad. “There is a story behind everything,” explains Dobrev, pointing out a pair of vintage books found filming in Vancouver and an assortment of pillows acquired on location in Atlanta.
“I was living in Atlanta for six years during my run on Vampire Diaries. During that time, I was constantly on the internet looking at houses in L.A. I never really found what I liked, not everything,” Dobrev tells us. “One day at Julie Plec’s house, the creator of our show, I was getting ready for the MTV Video Awards and saw the listing. It was one block away. I ran straight over in my full-length gown. My realtor and I walked through the house in five minutes, and I put an offer in right then and there.”
Social media played an unexpectedly pivotal role in the design process. Dobrev credits “Instagram stalking” for sourcing both her designer and key pieces of art throughout the space. “I’ve been following Mat on MyDomaine for some time and was a long-standing fan of his aesthetic,” Dobrev tells us. “I love Consort’s Instagram. I reached out, and we were all so excited to collaborate.”
A focal point of the living room is an original commissioned work from street artist Bradley Theodore. “I kept seeing Bradley’s work sprinkled throughout New York City. When I found out who the artist was, I stalked him on Instagram. We became friends after I DMed him. I asked if he would make me something for the house.”
Theodore's work, a colorful portrait of Audrey Hepburn in full Breakfast At Tiffany’s iconic LBD glamour, hangs prominently in the living room. “Audrey Hepburn is my idol,” Dobrev beams. “I wanted to have a raw, distressed vibe to add a little roughness to the traditional living room set up. Punk it up a little bit.” We think Holly Golightly would approve of such a break with convention.
A recurring motif of the space is the consistent use of high contrast black and white tones. Used to maximum impact throughout, the iconic juxtaposition dramatically highlights architectural details and statement pieces alike. Dobrev credits Consort with the idea of experimenting with dark, rich hues. “There was a moment I was afraid we were going gothic,” Dobrev confides. “I never would have done it on my own, but one of my favorite things about the house is all the accents of black. Mat and Brandon were able to make my home feel both feminine and airy with a bit of edge. It’s totally me. It’s perfect.”
The fireplace proved a joint collaboration. Consort lobbied to paint the structure black. One idea entirely Dobrev’s own was to line the inside with glass. “I’m from Canada,” she says, “I come from cold weather. I thought, ‘I’m in L.A. now. It’s hot. I’m not going to use the fireplace.’ It was my idea to get antique mirror and put candles inside. They reflect off the backboard so beautifully. It really came together quite well. It’s a big hit while entertaining.”
The most extensive construction work occurred in the kitchen. “The original kitchen used was wood floors, black countertops and silver accessories. We gutted the whole thing. Mat and Brandon had the idea to do herringbone white floors with brass and copper hardware. The banquette nook we built.”
The open flow and inviting décor prove ideal for entertaining, a goal of Dobrev’s. “I entertain quite a bit, whether it’s game nights, dinner parties, or just cooking at home. When the house isn’t filled with friends, I want to feel comfortable,” she tells us. “I’m not a super-modern aesthetic person. I feel it’s cold. When I see a modern couch, I don’t necessarily want to sit on it. I want to appreciate it as art.”
An original, oversize black-and-white painting of a film camera X-ray by Dobrev's mother, Michaela Constantine, hangs above the actress’s favorite piece of furniture in the home, a Restoration Hardware Cloud Sofa. “I watch a lot of movies. I’ve dedicated an entire room to it. You sit on this couch and don’t leave for three days. It is the most comfortable couch I have ever encountered.”
Summing up the playful mixology built for generous entertaining, Dobrev's firs purchase for the house was a ping-pong table.“I love ping-pong so much, and for the first time I had a space that could fit a table,” says Dobrev. “I figured if push comes to shove, I can sleep on the ping-pong table with a sleeping bag. I didn’t even have a mattress yet.”
That’s sound logical to us.