House Tour: Sweet West Hollywood Resort
When a self-proclaimed glamour girl like Ellen Rakieten, a former executive producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show, seeks out a West Coast pied-à-terre, you better believe it’s got to have sex appeal. For Rakieten, who now helms her own production company and commutes here weekly from her home in Chicago, only one Los Angeles address would do: Sierra Towers.
Built in 1965, the fabled white high-rise—at 31 stories, it’s the tallest in West Hollywood—has floor-to-ceiling windows and spacious terraces with views of Beverly Hills and the Sunset Strip. The tower (despite its name, there is only one) is a celebrity hunter’s dream, but paparazzi don’t stand a chance against the building’s legendary phalanx of doormen and valets. For these reasons, Sierra Towers has over the years been home to Elton John, Cher, Jane Fonda, Joan Collins, Courteney Cox, Vincent Gallo, and Lindsay Lohan, among other stars. “It’s a glamorous building, and there aren’t a lot of apartments in Los Angeles that are full-service, like you find in New York and Chicago,” Rakieten says. “Two weeks ago, I saw Miley Cyrus in the lobby and Ozzy Osbourne on the treadmill.”
The living room of television producer Ellen Rakieten’s Los Angeles apartment, which was designed by Anne Coyle. A Louis XV–style desk by Baker is paired with a side chair by Jonathan Adler, the 1940s chandelier is Italian, and the mirrored walls and concrete flooring are original to the apartment.
Four years ago, in an article she wrote for ELLE DECOR, Rakieten described decorating her apartment in a 1920s Beaux Arts building in Chicago—a project that was initiated after her friend, decorator Nate Berkus, walked into her master bedroom and questioned why a take-charge media executive was living in a space that looked like, in his words, a “hellhole.” She enlisted his help on the spot, along with that of her best friend and next-door neighbor, interior designer Anne Coyle. The home they created for Rakieten, her husband, and her two sons combined her penchant for feminine touches with such family-friendly elements as a guest room–turned–basketball court.
Rakieten on the terrace; the chairs are by Harry Bertoia and the table is by Eero Saarinen.
In L.A., there were fewer concessions. Rakieten, who has produced such television series as The Marriage Ref with Jerry Seinfeld and Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, uses the apartment as a luxurious crash pad while she is working during the week, then flies home to Chicago on the weekends to be with her family. “The boys have a room here with a PlayStation and TV, and my husband loves coming to L.A. to play golf,” she says. “But most of the time it’s just me, and this apartment was designed to make me happy. And what I like is twinkly, crystally, girly, you know—glammy.”
The living room’s sofa is by Milo Baughman, the circa-1960 Mies van der Rohe chair retains its original leather upholstery, and the vintage cocktail table and pair of poufs are by Pierre Cardin; the rug is from Habité.
Once again, she asked Coyle to help with the apartment’s renovation. “We call it ‘best-friend decorating,’ ” says Rakieten, who in 2010 coauthored a book with Coyle, Undateable: 311 Things Guys Do That Guarantee They Won’t Be Dating or Having Sex, which inspired an NBC sitcom. “We just know each other so well.”
For Coyle, the condo’s stark modern design—the building’s architect was Jack A. Charney, a protégé of Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler—was at first hard to reconcile with Rakieten’s passion for posh. “It was a challenge to inject her style into essentially a glass box,” Coyle says. “The space was such a blank slate. I looked to Ellen’s personality for direction as much as to the architecture.”
A custom wall-mounted console covered in a shagreen by Edelman Leather and a vintage mirror in the entry hall; the flooring is original.
Coyle headed to Los Angeles’s antiques district and unearthed a 1940s Italian crystal-and-brass chandelier at a shop called Little Paris Antiques. The piece now takes center stage in the living room, sparkling over a black-and-gold Louis XV–style desk in a tableau that wouldn’t be out of place at the Petit Trianon. “That chandelier is a perfect example of how Anne and I get each other,” Rakieten says.
Ikea chairs surround a 1970s dining table in a corner of the living room overlooking West Hollywood.
Meanwhile, the room’s other elements—painted concrete floors, a mirrored wall, and a vintage Milo Baughman sofa—hew more closely to the apartment’s midcentury modern spirit. “The space begged for Mies van der Rohe, so we did Barcelona chairs,” Coyle says. “But we also used poufy ottomans and fun fabrics to give it that girly chic.”
If one room best reflects Rakieten’s eclectic spirit, it’s the master bedroom, with its glossy white floor, vintage Op Art mirrored acrylic artworks from the 1970s, and a headboard in a retro floral silk taffeta from Bob Collins & Sons, the West Palm Beach, Florida, fabric house. “Everything in my home is very collected,” she says. “Anne and I made shopping trips to Miami, Palm Springs, and the Paris flea markets. I would never walk into a showroom and point and say, ‘That’s my room.’ ”
Rakieten spends much of her time on the spacious terrace, enjoying breakfast at a Saarinen table and inviting girlfriends over for cocktails. The balcony’s outdoor seating area is suitably sybaritic, with plush love seats piled high with colorful pillows and ethnic blankets, and tall pillar candles whose rose flames reflect the pink Hollywood twilight. “My friends call this the rejuvenation balcony,” Rakieten says. “When we come out here, nobody ever wants to leave.”?
The cabinetry, shelving, and desk in the guest room were installed by the previous owner, the table lamp is Swedish, and the curtains are by Smith+Noble.