Updated: Aug 26, 2020
In January 2019, Jessica Alba, the actress and cofounder of the eco-friendly megabrand The Honest Co., threw a 40th-birthday bash for her husband, Cash Warren, producer and cofounder of lifestyle brand Pair of Thieves. Because they had recently moved into a home perched on the edge of a scenic, leafy canyon in Los Angeles, she decided to combine the birthday with a housewarming. And after their beautiful, new, expansive backyard—a hot commodity in this part of town—had been mauled by tents, bars, and wild corn tossers at the extravaganza, she decided to retire the tradition. “He’s in his 40s now, so he can do other stuff!” she says, laughing. “This is our dream house!”
The couple, who had been living in a house just down the street for the past decade, already had started looking for a new one with more space, and a big backyard was on their wish list. “We wanted a place to watch our kids play and grow up,” Alba says. They found it on the very first day of their search. It wasn’t officially listed, because the sellers wanted to stage it first, but Alba cajoled her Realtor into getting her in that afternoon. “I thought, I have an imagination and I know what I want. I walked in and knew within 20 minutes, even though [the previous owners’ style] wasn’t our vibe, this was exactly what we were looking for.”
The couple’s “vibe” has two touchstones. Warren’s mother lives in Provence, and one of Alba’s Pinterest boards is filled with pictures of houses in the French countryside and apartments in Paris. The second is Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi’s house in Beverly Hills. “They’d have us over for holiday parties, and we’d leave and say to each other, ‘Their house is so sick!’ ” When Alba closed on this property, she asked DeGeneres for an introduction to her designers, the mother-son team of Kathleen and Tommy Clements.
“It’s easy to see why Jess is such a successful businesswoman,” Tommy says. “She’s organized, hyper-focused, and superdecisive—there is no vacillation.” The Clementses left their weekly client meetings with their entire to-do list ticked off. In describing Alba’s style, Tommy notes she was always drawn to organic materials, natural fibers and fabrics, hemp textures, and reclaimed wood, “which didn’t exactly come as a surprise since her company is based entirely on thoughtfully produced, safe products.”
At first, Alba thought it would be a quick and easy renovation. “I was like, ‘I’m pretty much fine with everything; let’s just paint it!’ And then all of a sudden we walked into the house, and it had been stripped down to the studs. I mean, there were literally no walls! I said to Cash, ‘Did we know this was going to happen?’ And he said, ‘This explains the bill!’ ” She laughs. “Apparently you can’t just pop off crown moldings.”
Ultimately, the renovation took 18 months and more than new paint. In order to create a more flowing family zone, the foursome modified the original ground-floor plan, opening the former family room up to the kitchen. In the process they removed a bar to gain square footage and create more storage. (“I didn’t want to see all that stuff—coffee machine, toaster oven, dirty blender—all day,” Alba says.) And they blew out the back of the house and installed a folding glass wall that opened up the space to the incredible view.
Alba also enjoyed hunting for just what she liked. To update the bathrooms, she went to RH (“I don’t have a deal with them; I just think their stuff is supercute”), and she found the kitchen range by scouring the internet (“I’ve been dreaming about a stove like this my whole life”).
“Jess didn’t feel the need to spend money she didn’t need to,” Tommy Clements says. “She’s not the type of person to spend for the sake of spending. She sees through that kind of stuff.” Indeed, Alba is especially proud of the laundry-room flooring, which she found herself at a home-improvement store. “Someone quoted us a $70,000 option, and I thought, There’s got to be something better than that!” she explains. “So I put a hold on the vintage Italian limestone and went and talked to my new friend at Lowe’s.”
Now fully settled in, Alba finishes in an unexpected spot when she gives house tours to friends: “This is our pride and joy,” she says, showing off a meticulously organized and labeled wall of circuit breakers, light switches, and other gear related to the house’s electronics. Alba, who does a mind- boggling job splitting her time between being an actress, entrepreneur, and mother, looks on the display with pride. “All this organization is literally my wildest fantasy come true.”