Jennifer Carpenter's living room

The house itself provided some direction. Built in the '30s as a hunting lodge for residents of the city's tony Hancock Park neighborhood, it had a cabin-like feel—dark-wood beams and earth tones—that immediately inspired Ariel. "I wanted to capture that bohemian feeling—and then add a modern twist to it," Ariel says. "But if I went too rustic, it would look a bit shacky; at the same time, if I went too polished, it would look cold."

Her first task was to brighten the space: Window treatments came down ("The trees are the curtains," Ariel insists), walls got a coat of luminous Venetian plaster, and the living room's pitched ceiling went white with gray beams.

Jennifer's living room is now furnished with a mix of high-end pieces, including an Eames lounge chair, and affordable finds like the brass table lamp from Target.
Actress Jennifer Carpenter's dining room

All of the major pieces of furniture throughout the house—a white Saarinen dining table and Panton chairs, Ikea's white Stockholm sofa, a woven-rope West Elm bed—are neutral. "That way," Ariel explains, "the backbone of the design will work for years, even if Jennifer decides to switch her house up a bit."

Natural light pours into the dining room by day; at night, Jennifer flips on Marc Sadler's Twiggy floor lamp. A laminate-topped Eero Saarinen table and plastic Verner Panton chairs sit on a cowhide needlepoint rug from Dransfield and Ross; the oil painting is Tree by John Brown.  
Actress Jennifer Carpenter's bedroom

Punches of color and pattern come from accessories, such as the bold graphic fabric panels that hang on an empty wall in the bedroom. "I think I screamed when I first saw those," Jennifer says, recalling her excitement.

Pink acrylic cubes by Elizabeth Paige Smith Studio sit at the base of a bed from West Elm; the Ikea bedding gets a lift from pillows by John Robshaw and Scholten & Baijings. On the walls: a Polaroid collage of Jennifer's friends and panels made of Christopher Farr's Palma fabric.  
Vintage brass peacock lamp

Woody accents—bird figurines, a 1950s flower-shaped side table, an old rough-hewn bench—pay homage to Laurel Canyon's sylvan landscape.

Jennifer's Polaroid camera sits next to a vintage brass peacock lamp from Orange.
Furniture on the back deck

Ariel didn't limit her design to the interiors. Why would she, when Southern California's climate allows for open windows and doors year-round? Her work outside essentially increased Jennifer's usable square footage by a full 25 percent. A lightweight campaign table provides Jennifer with a quiet spot on the back deck for her morning coffee and paper.

Leather and wood campaign chairs, a matching ottoman, and a kikar wood table (all from Roost) create a breakfast nook on the back deck.  
Front porch sitting room

Lawn chairs and a vintage glider help create a shaded sitting room on the front porch.

The yellow steel lounge chair is from Design Within Reach; the white chair with vinyl cording and the vintage glider from Pot-ted.  
Actress Jennifer Carpenter's backyard tepee

In the backyard, Ariel pitched—of all things—a traditional tepee reupholstered in a graphic outdoor fabric. "That was my idea," Jennifer says. "I always wanted a yurt."

Ariel updated this tepee using fabric by Hable Construction. The neon chairs are by Tord Boontje for Moroso.
Actress Jennifer Carpenter's living room

There's a giddiness to this bachelorette pad; it's everywhere, from the Polaroid portraits of friends on the bedroom wall (Jennifer takes her camera to all of her red carpet events) to the eye-catching Tord Boontje barrel chairs that flank the backyard tepee ("I saw those in New York and immediately thought, 'They're perfect for Jennifer,'" Ariel says). But there's also a distinct sense that Jennifer learned a lot about design through her collaboration with Ariel. The actress not only knows what she likes now, but to go after it when she sees it: Pointing to a pile of rock-shaped pillows in the living room, Jennifer says, "Before, I would have seen those at the store and said, 'Those are cool,' and then gone straight for the sale rack."

In Jennifer's living room, an Ikea sofa, felt rock-shaped pillows, and a metallic stool by Ligne Roset provide plenty of seating. A framed game board from her childhood hangs above a photo of her latest obsession, Bob Dylan.
Actress Jennifer Carpenter makes banana bread in her kitchen.

Jennifer is not afraid to treat herself every once in a while—to delicate water glasses or colorful tableware. "I always thought you needed cabinets to hide your dishes," she says, remembering her first impulse to build doors around the open shelves in the kitchen. "But not if you have pretty dishes."

Ultimately, Carpenter says, she understands that it's sometimes those little things—whether earthy pottery that complements your countertops or, yes, even mosquito netting to dress up an air mattress—that make the difference in how you live your life.

Dishware from Lawson-Fenning East, clear glasses from Roost, and vintage woven cups sit on open shelves in the kitchen.  
Ariel Ashe and Jennifer Carpenter play Scrabble.

Relax! Using Ariel's five pointers for easy living leaves plenty of time for fun and games.

  1. Buy neutral furniture and bring color in with accessories. It's easier to replace a candlestick than a sofa that suddenly feels outdated.
  2. Take a laid-back approach to art. We used game boards and Polaroids. And who says everything needs to be hung on the wall—or even framed?
  3. Big names aren't always best. I like to mix highbrow and affordable furniture because it's hard to feel comfortable in a room that's all design, design, design.
  4. Erase the barrier between indoors and out. Furnish your deck, porch, or patio as if it were your living room. Then you can't help but enjoy the good weather.
  5. Don't bother with fussy drapes. In fact, if privacy is not an issue at your home, you have my permission to skip curtains altogether.