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Publication Date: 2014-05-26

House Tours

Actress Sela Ward's Posh Bel Air Home

Sela Ward’s home may be nestled into a hillside in the heart of Bel Air, but its posh Southern California address is tempered by a wholeheartedly Southern soul. A concoction of Southern California—verdant gardens filled with jasmine, bougainvillea, succulents, and redwoods; contemporary art; and an Emmy or two—is mixed with Southern charm and influences.

Photography: Dominique Vorillon

With its reclaimed wood beams from Louisiana and Mississippi, McCarty pottery, and heart-pine floors, the family home readily reflects the actress’s Mississippi upbringing. Sela and her husband, Howard, called in architect Robbin Hayne to repair their home’s structural problems and add onto the original footprint. Sela’s friend of 15 years, designer and fellow Mississippian Ann Runyon Carter was enlisted to help with the interiors. “Ann helped us create a sense of place for our family [son Austin is 18 and daughter Anabella is 14] in a city that can sometimes feel very ungrounded,” says Sela. “And she gets the Southern thing!”

Designed to flow effortlessly from room to room, each streamlined space opens onto the next, delicately stair-stepping down the hill—an elegant ordonnance of rooms.

With its quiet palette, the living room is the ideal place to showcase the family’s collection of art. The large-scale piece above the fireplace was painted by Sela.

Photography: Dominique Vorillon

The breakfast room with its ample banquette and spill-proof fabric is perfectly kid- and pet-friendly. “Sela and I brought fabric samples back and tested them out thoroughly,” laughs Carter. “They’re impenetrable!”A breakfast room is open to an adjoining family room, perfect for casual gatherings. On the other side of the family room, a colorful painting from Damian Elwes hangs on the sliding door.

Photography: Dominique Vorillon

Sela’s light-filled work space opens to a terrace that overlooks the pool. Mellow colors accentuate the warm wood and rich leather details. Osborne and Little wallpaper provides little pops of color on the walls.

Photography: Dominique Vorillon

Electric turquoise and lime green star in the sitting room. The cool colors pop against the rich wood surrounding. The faux Warhol down the hall from her office is from the film “54,” in which Sela co-starred.

Photography: Dominique Vorillon

Arguably one of the more formal rooms in the house, the library room with its diverse collection of art, luxuriously clad furnishings, and fluid arrangements has that Southern thang. Tailored yet comfortable. Refined yet inviting. Polished yet carefree. A work by filmmaker and artist Thierry Guetta (aka Mr. Brainwash) adds a hint of irreverence to the otherwise formal space. Richly hued wood-paneled walls are constructed from antique cypress doors from a company out of New Orleans. “I handpicked every door,” notes Carter. “The room is completely enveloped in -cypress, even the coffered ceiling. And it’s all from Louisiana!”

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Written by Jenny Bradley

Architect for renovation: Robbin Hayne, Hayne Architects, 22467 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265; 310/456-0050,

Interior design: Ann Runion Carter, Ann Carter Inc., 11 E. Hill Drive, Jackson, MS 39216; 601/981-5820.


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