Although Minnie Driver’s life at home in the Hollywood Hills and on the set of her popular show Speechless keeps her plenty busy, whenever the London-born actress gets a bit of downtime she makes a beeline for the beach. Eighteen years ago Minnie purchased a two-bedroom house in a Malibu mobile-home community as a low-key seaside getaway, and since then “it has just been a complete and utter retreat,” she says. “When I’m there, I surf, we ride our bikes everywhere, we skateboard… It’s a super-tight-knit community, which is what I was really looking for.”
The design of the space was something of an afterthought. Minnie describes the aesthetic as “cluttered cottage”: surfboards stacked outside, sand on the floor, wetsuits hanging up to dry. Plus, by the beach, Minnie says, “everything rusts. So it was never too precious a place.” When Minnie’s son came along, she turned a portion of the living space into a playroom, and things worked swimmingly for a few years.
Eventually, though, the need to create a space her son could grow into led Minnie to embark on a few renovations. She walled off the playroom to create a third bedroom, reworked the layout of the kitchen, and gave everything a fresh coat of paint. But the challenges of decorating the space persisted.
Cue the team from One Kings Lane Interior Design. With Minnie’s inspiration guiding the way, our designers set about creating a restful, beautiful, and functional space that’s as ideal for unwinding after a day spent in the surf as it is for hosting cozy dinner parties. Read on to get a glimpse inside the space, then shop the look here.
Back to Basics
A decor enthusiast with a unique sense of style that blends pattern-happy English charm with a fresh California sensibility, Minnie came to the One Kings Lane team with plenty of ideas and a foundation for the design already in place. A pale blue-green wall color Minnie had used (and loved) in a previous home set an airy tone in the living room, while a deeper duck-egg blue made the kitchen cabinets pop, and sleek wooden shelving added natural texture. The result was a restful atmosphere with a definite seaside feel. “I didn’t want a huge amount of pattern, and I wanted it to be this kind of streamlined, calm space, so that was my jumping-off point,” Minnie says.
At the same time, she wanted to maintain the home’s fuss-free appeal. “It’s a double-wide trailer, and there’s no point in trying to make it look like the Taj Mahal,” she says. “I just wanted to streamline everything, because fundamentally it is still a place to go and retreat and surf and hang out with friends and cook. But I wanted to make the space calmer and less overwrought.”
Step one was clearing the clutter, Marie Kondo-style. “That’s the great thing about doing a renovation,” says Minnie of the paring-down process. “It’s good for your soul.” Out went all the extraneous elements, those mismatched flea market plates now off to bring joy to someone else.
Step two was finding furnishings in scale with the home’s petite proportions. An avid entertainer, Minnie often hosts groups of friends and family at the cottage, and they’d either sit crowded around a too-big dining table or end up perched on the floor. “It was all slightly misproportioned,” Minnie says. “It was lovely and charming, but I wanted something that really worked as a space to entertain in, and it really does that now.”
Furnishings that flex to bridge the living, kitchen, and dining areas are key to the new flow. Rather than blocking off the living area with a set of bulky chairs, the design team added a daybed that allows conversation to move in both directions. The backless barstools are similarly versatile, and the slim dining chairs are easy to reposition.
It was lovely and charming, but I wanted something that really worked as a space to entertain in, and it does that now.
Mastering the Mix
The design process was collaborative at every step. After poring over the One Kings Lane site, Minnie created wish lists of favorite items, “which is just such a great way of figuring out what you like,” she says. “And then the design team synthesized that and added things that I hadn’t thought of.” One such piece, a burl-wood coffee table, is now a favorite of Minnie, her young son, and her frequent houseguests, who have taken to tucking seashells into the sculptural base’s many nooks and crannies. “This coffee table has now evolved into this incredibly beautiful art piece that also has this story of the people who came to stay,” says Minnie.
The One Kings Lane team also made sure to incorporate a bit of the pattern-on-pattern look that Minnie loves while maintaining an overall streamlined feel. Indigo pillows and ottomans live happily alongside rust-toned kilim pillows in the living room, while vintage striped rugs in the living and dining rooms contribute another subtle layer of print. The mix matches Minnie’s vision to a T. “I knew very much what I wanted, and what was so brilliant about the design team was that they translated all of my ideas,” she says.
I knew very much what I wanted, and what was so brilliant about the design team was that they translated all of my ideas.
A One-of-a-Kind Retreat
Seeing the final result, Minnie recalls, “I was absolutely blown away… It is so beyond what I expected. I knew it was going to be lovely, because we picked everything out, but seeing it go from rendered drawings to actually there in the space, it’s made me so happy. I absolutely love it.”
Minnie’s beachside haven is made all the more precious by the knowledge that it was almost lost. When wildfires broke out across Southern California in 2018, Minnie’s neighborhood was surrounded by flames. While Minnie and some of her neighbors helped deliver supplies by boat, a group of residents, including a few retired firefighters, stayed put and protected the homes from damage. “Our community was saved by 10 men who refused to evacuate,” Minnie says. “It was absolute heroism. Everything burned around us.”
As the area continues to recover, the overwhelming feeling among Minnie’s tight-knit community is gratitude. “We were so lucky,” Minnie says. “We’re so grateful.”
It is so beyond what I expected... Seeing it go from rendered drawings to actually there in the space, it’s made me so happy. I absolutely love it.