You may not know Nancy Steiner by name, but if you’ve seen a film in the last, oh, 30 years, you’ve probably seen her work. Steiner is a career costume designer with countless films on her resume—Lost In Translation, The Virgin Suicides, and Little Miss Sunshine to name a few—tasked with transforming A-list actresses and actors (like Nicole Kidman, Ben Affleck, Bill Murray, and Jennifer Anniston) into unforgettable characters. Her latest high-profile project is the hotly anticipated Showtime reboot of Twin Peaks, directed by David Lynch.
Miles east of the flash of Hollywood, Steiner calls a quiet, hilly section of Silver Lake home. The interior of her 1937 home is equally peaceful, flooded with natural light and decorated with a lifetime of vintage finds, artwork made by friends, and home accents picked up while traveling the world for work as well as pleasure.
It’s a natural crossover from her professional life, which requires sourcing savvy and digging far deeper than the latest collections to walk the runway. “Costume design is about creating a character,” she says. “It isn’t about beauty and fashion—it’s about individuals and storytelling.” And isn’t that just what home decor is? The big, visual unfolding of the story of who lives inside.
Steiner shares the space with her charismatic pup Chauncy, an 8-year-old poodle/terrier/shih tzu mutt. Because he’s a mix of hypoallergenic breeds, her custom-built orange couch and bay window floor cushion stay fur-free. Both are decorated with pillows found on travels to Morocco, India, and Vietnam, as well as geometric designs made by Nancy herself (as seen on the couch here).
“I’m a treasure hunter,” Steiner explains of her mostly vintage decor. “I am not a big spender; I don’t buy a lot of stuff. Once I have something, I keep it for a long time.”
The avocado green open storage unit Steiner uses to store CDs and vinyl records was custom built by a friend in collaboration with Steiner. The cluster of artwork above is a carryover from Steiner’s youth: “I lined all my bedroom walls with bulletin boards,” she says of her teenage bedroom, filling the boards with inspiration photos and magazine tears. “That was something I did when I was 15, and it’s still the way I love seeing things, all clustered together.”
“This certain type of mustard and this certain type of teal are my favorite colors,” Steiner says, “not that you see [either color] everywhere in my house.” The impactful hues show up sparingly, like in this bedroom chair, anchored by plenty of vibrant burnt orange, mossy green, and warm stained wood.
Colorful textiles, like this table runner from Peru, add warmth and personality to the space.
More color and playfulness is added with artwork that runs the gamut from oil portraits to quirky sculpture. “I have a lot of friends’ art in my house,” Steiner says. The ceiling-mounted piece in the dining room, which connects the front entrance and the kitchen, was made a joint effort between Steiner and her friend Eric Ernest Johnson.
Steiner found these Paul McCobb chairs on eBay a decade ago, and the table she’s owned twice as long.
Besides the exterior paint color and some landscape work, the kitchen is the only thing Steiner has really changed in her 18 years living in this home, and it was completed just a year ago. She worked with her friend Barbara Bestor on the remodel, which involved knocking down awkward walls that made the narrow space frustrating to work in. The striking yellow and white tile came from Mission Tile in Pasadena, which Steiner picked out to do as a runner before Bestor convinced her to do the whole wall. “This tile was a whole nightmare,” she laughs, “I won’t go into it.”
The tree visible from the sink window is a pineapple guava tree. “The leaves are sweet,” Steiner explains, “and when it blooms, it’s The Squirrel Show,” she jokes.
The kitchen remodel also added an easier way to get outside, which is another area Steiner has put some time into refreshing. “This was a wooden deck,” she says of the nook now anchored by a concrete, square fire pit and custom, red-orange banquette. She also inherited an above-ground hot tub from the previous owners, who had it installed in the hot tub hey days of the 1990s. That’s since been replaced by a long, wood table custom made by a friend of a friend in Big Sur, big enough to host plenty of Steiner’s creative pals.