IN/OUT | Living a beautiful life

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Simone Kessell | LA Stories

If these walls could talk, what would they say? Actor Simone Kessell lives in Hollywood with her writer/director husband and two sons, in a home dating back to 1903. Simone’s luxe bohemian style and love of colour are inspired by her travels and everyday life in LA, and expressed through her interiors, fashion and warm approach to living a beautiful life. There are tales from the past (Sir Ian McKellen and Robert Downey Jr have also lived in the house) and more recent history within the rich tapestry of this home. Simone’s friend, the late Heath Ledger was instrumental in replacing (literally) the original pendant in the cavernous living space with the giant Noguchi Akari light.

In/Out: Simone Kessell | LA Stories

Simone’s love of life is infectious. Her home is a reflection of an innate balance between energy and serenity, glamour and family life, humour and reverence.

When did you first move to LA?
I first moved to Los Angeles in 2003 for six years, had my son Jack, then we headed back to Sydney for five years. We have only returned to Hollywood this year… and so the LA love affair begins again.

Tell us about your acting career…
I have been an actress from the age of 12 (yes a very, very long time). My career started with a KFC commercial and is still going strong. I have since worked all over the world in film and television. It’s what I love and what I know. My craft is now mostly on television – I say craft as so many actors have specific skills and mine seems to be on the small screen. I have worked with some incredible actors, directors and have been blessed to make a living out of it. I am also blessed with such varied and interesting roles. I play a lot of bad girls which I love. Hmm, I wonder why.

Your husband is also in the industry. How do you keep family life real against the backdrop of LA life?
My husband is a writer/director and we try our hardest to keep balance and harmony in our lives together, especially with two young boys. It can be tough – but given we have been in the film and television industry for so long now we take it all with a grain of salt. It’s all about survival and if you have a friend to travel the treacherous road with then all the better.

In/Out: Simone Kessell | LA Stories

In/Out: Simone Kessell | LA Stories

You live in Hollywood. What do you love about the neighbourhood?
We live in Hollywood Heights – it doesn’t really have a community, more of a history. We are surrounded by many landmarks and stories of yesteryear. The Magic Castle is at the end of our street and the historic landmark Yamashiro is to our left. Our home is one of the oldest in Hollywood (1903) and was once lived in by Sir Ian McKellen and Robert Downey Jr. If these walls could talk…

Your house has quite a history. What have you kept and what have you updated?
We have kept the house as original as possible. The courtyard and outdoor area were expanded and made more child-friendly with a cubby and synthetic grass (due to water restrictions in LA). The kitchen and bathrooms have all been recently updated.

When it comes to my home it’s my words, my script, so I like to be a little more radical, bold and daring…

How would you describe your approach to interiors?
I love colour, light, bold fabrics and a bohemian flea market vibe. Our home is a pre-Craftsman’s so a jumbled delight rolled into one – lots of wood and lots of love. High ceilings and bold colours – every window frames the outside world, you look out and you see such a rich tapestry of plants such as Bamboo, Eucalyptus and Bougainvillea and the twinkling night lights of Los Angeles. I want my home to feel like a sanctuary hidden in the madness of LA life. A safe place where you escape to…

Do you live creatively in all areas of your life? How do you express yourself through fashion and interiors?
I express myself through my work as an actress. Through different characters, accents and physicalities that the writer has given me to portray. When it comes to my home it’s my words, my script, so I like to be a little more radical, bold and daring. I try things e.g. – a cobalt blue fireplace on a whim (it doesn’t work) but I tried it to lighten up the dining room. A coral pink bathroom with tiled blue sink and a forest of bamboo out the window (that one works, thank goodness). The clothes I wear can also be ‘at times’ a little radical and bold. I love chunky jewellery and skinny jeans; a silk boho dress with a bright flat. Or an LBD which is way too short, leather jacket and an Isabel Marant ankle boot. I like to mix it up.

In/Out: Simone Kessell | LA Stories

LA has such a personality, a uniqueness that is contagious. You can never be too big, too loud or too brash. It’s America.

What do you love about LA?
I love the drum beat of LA. It really has a pulse. From restaurants to parks, beaches and hiking trails. It’s always warm and sunny in California – that resonates with the people who live here. LA has every walk of life from the incredibly wealthy to the street-dwelling homeless. But it’s alive with a culture which brings varied food trucks and restaurants, incredible Mexican and vibrant fashion. It has such a personality, a uniqueness that is contagious. You can never be too big, too loud or too brash. It’s America.

What is a typical day in LA for you?
My day always starts with getting my boys to school then a workout of some kind – Runyon Canyon or a boot camp or even a Barre class ( I know … get more LA), and usually I have a script to work on or an audition to learn. I meet with friends or run errands. The variety of grocery stores here is vast – from Thai Town to Whole Foods. I love Trader Joes. I try to go Downtown as much as possible, to get away from the hills of Hollywood and experience a very real world. The flower district blows my mind. I could spend hours walking through haggling prices. Also, it’s the home of the fabric district. Again, so many varieties and personalities in two long noisy streets. It’s the hub of LA for me and always keeps me in a place of gratitude and awareness.

Where you draw your daily inspiration?
My daily inspiration is always to workout. I find that inspires me to be a better mother to two boys and to get through the rejection / heartbreak / success / confidence it takes to work as an actor. Being strong in my body gives me inner strength. Also, my friends and colleagues inspire me — we have some hugely successful actor/filmmakers in our lives and that is always a great reminder to keep going and know you are on the right path.

In/Out: Simone Kessell | LA Stories

You’ve travelled extensively – what are your favourite destinations?
My favourite travel destinations would have to be India and any Pacific island. India is like another planet, you leave all your expectations at the airport. Rich, vibrant and heartbreaking. It makes you think about life and death and everything in between. Being a New Zealander/ Maori/ Polynesian, whenever I am sitting on a beach in the Pacific – be it New Zealand’s North Island, Hawaii, Cook Islands, Fiji or Tahiti I am truly at peace. It’s like I have come home.

What do you miss about Sydney?
What I miss most about Sydney is the coastal run – Bondi to Bronte and Mackenzie’s (Mackers) dog beach – nowhere like it in the world. I have the most incredible friends in Sydney and I miss them all dearly and yes and of course the coffee. The ocean and the people are what make Sydney so magical for me.

I want my home to feel like a sanctuary hidden in the madness of LA life. A safe place where you escape to…

Favourite era?
Fave era would have to be the 70’s – its fashion and interiors get me so excited, I love the side boob string crochet bikini and the high waisted pants, the logo print T-shirts and the fresh dewy makeup and glossy lips. It’s a mash-up of late 60’s, early 70’s in interiors that draw me in. I’m mad for anything rattan and give me a pile of boho floor cushions and a peacock chair any day.

A quote that sums up how you live your life?
‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’

Best piece of advice?

What does living a beautiful life mean to you?
Living a beautiful life means to me to be present, grateful and conscious. To teach and be taught and to really value the people in your life as well as the lessons you learn on the journey. It’s not hard to be kind and give someone a compliment.

In/Out: Simone Kessell | LA Stories

What are you currently…

Coveting – A blush pink velvet ‘Anthropologie’ Chaise Lounge for my mezzanine
Reserving – Tickets to Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Infinity Room’
Watching – Bloodline
Listening – Bishop Briggs / Florence and the Machine
Reading – The Girls by Emma Cline
Trawling – Pinterest and Remodelista and Class Pass (work out anytime, anywhere)
Learning – American Dialects
Giving – Animal Aid Unlimited please check it out and share
Dreaming – of a Maori Christmas back in New Zealand with all my family followed by NYE in Sydney with all my fabulous friends

Photography: Julie Adams
Hair and Make-up: Elsa Morgan

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