Architectural Digest (AD) is like Town & Country in that it’s meant to be aspirational, out-of-touch and superior. It’s not HGTV, which is about accessibility and duplication. It’s about exclusivity.
Enter Gwyneth Paltrow, whose brand also inhabits all of those qualities (aspirational, out-of-touch and superior). Her Architectural Digest home tour stops at nothing to let us know how much she poured into every detail of her home and how it’s so much more thoughtful, luxurious, cool, and European (a descriptor used several times over) than a sleek McMansion.
I’ve watched a lot of Selling Sunset and Million Dollar Listing LA in my time and while those houses are expensive, oftentimes they are vacant, cold, boring, and impersonal (to steal a word from GP, “spec-y”). Those houses are meant to appeal to people with money and no point of view.
Gwyneth, to her credit, does have a point of view (and a lot of money). Her house is extremely detailed. It’s feminine and airy, industrial, it’s modern with classic touches – the house is very done. It’s overwhelming how much detail and styling has gone into every room. And she bucks against many of the minimalist trends we’ve seen: there are wood fireplaces (not the wall of glass gas fireplaces), different flooring in each room (instead of just going with hardwood throughout, another common look for modern homes), large reclaimed sinks (not farmhouse), plenty of ornate tile, putting the range in the island and of course wallpaper (some of it hand-painted). This is not a fully open-concept house and the kitchen is its own room. Again, this differs from a lot of new or renovated homes that are all about the kitchen and living space being one large space without walls.
As she mentions, she worked on the place from the ground up for six years – daughter Apple would have been around eleven when she started this project. There were fights between the architect and the contractor (likely, many many fights and angry text chains and passive aggressive emails). She used architects for the layout and a designer to help with furniture. She turned to Pinterest (the most relatable thing Gwyneth has ever done?) for ideas. And she takes great pleasure in showing off her Parisian spa (admittedly much cooler than an indoor pool) with a steam room and cold plunge bath.
I watched the video twice and Gwyneth was heavily involved in every detail as she knows the names of the people who painted the wallpaper and made the tiles and designed the light fixtures. She reached out to all of her contacts, she laboured over every detail. And while it’s extremely gauche to talk about money, this would have been a monumental investment for Gwyneth (she started the project before she married Brad Falchuk) – the cost overruns over six years would have been insane. A very renowned designer once told me that if it’s a $500k or $5 million job, there are always financial stressors and points of contention. The dollar amount is different, but the level of pressure is the same.
When celebrities partake in a home tour for AD there’s typically a reason: they are getting ready to sell the house, they are getting a divorce, or they want to show off. As Gwyneth mentioned, she has spent years and years designing this for her family and it’s a “forever, forever” home. So I don’t think she’s listing the house and I don’t think she’s getting a divorce. I do think she wanted to show off her accomplishment and praise the people she worked with. And I also think that as someone who makes her living in lifestyle, she has to do these kind of tours, she has to put her home up for public consumption to maintain her level of expertise and prestige. And some hardcore eyerolling on Twitter because if you have your own plunge spa and an abundance of Staub cookware and wood-burning fireplaces, do you care if some poors on Twitter are talking sh-t? No.
There’s one lingering question I have about this move: does this mean GP has left Brentwood for Montecito for good? Apple is 17 so leaving high school soon, but Moses is 15 and likely has a couple of years left (unless he is on an accelerated program or home schools). Brad’s children are around the same age. So did they switch schools? And what about Gwyneth’s commute to Santa Monica, where the Goop office is located? It’s a hike. I need someone in southern California who is familiar with the area to break down how this would happen every morning. Are people commuting from Montecito to LA every day? Not even rich people can control traffic.
If this is a forever move to Montecito, that means GP will be closer to the Lowe family (she’s very close with Rob and Sheryl). And Oprah. And the Sussexes!!!! Gwyneth is not new to being friends with royalty but even by her standards, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry would be a huge get for their social circle. The farmers market run-in is inevitable.