Visit Michael Bolton’s house, and there are women everywhere. Even the back wall of the soaring foyer of Bolton’s seven-bedroom Italianate villa is painted with a robed female figure who represents the goddess of music. But the $3.5 million Westport, Conn., estate of the 46-year-old Grammy Award-winning troubadour is hardly the Playboy mansion. The five women who bustle through the airy, flower-filled rooms are not wearing bunny ears—they are Bolton’s assistants. Three more young women are in residence: daughters Isa, 24, Holly, 22, and Taryn, 20 (from his 15-year marriage to Maureen, from whom he was divorced in 1991). Shania Twain’s husband, “Mutt” Lange, “once said to me, ‘Michael, have you noticed that you are completely surrounded by women?’ ” recalls Bolton. “It never dawned on me.”
One female is missing, though—the Woman. The 6’2″ singer-songwriter, who has dated the likes of Ashley Judd and Brooke Shields and had a serious romance with Nicollette Sheridan, is still looking for a special lady to share his world. “I want to have an intense, deep, fully connected partnership with someone I respect,” he says.
Since 1991, when he bought the property, Bolton, with the help of his daughters and an occasional decorator, has made his home base the kind of warm, romantic place that Ms. Right would love. Actually four houses on five wooded acres, the compound is surrounded by gardens of Old English roses and climbing vines that scale the Tuscan-yellow walls. “I love flowers,” says Bolton, who favors old jeans and baggy shirts around the house. “You can smell so many different kinds of flowers here in the summer.” Every corner of the 14,000-sq.-ft. main house contains its share of delectable Italian antiques. “Michael is the most Italian non-Italian I know,” says Honey Labrador, a pal and vice president of production at Bolton’s L.A.-based Passion Films company. The floor of his sunny kitchen, for instance, is off-white travertine marble flown in from Italy. But Bolton doesn’t spend much time laboring over dinner. “You don’t want to eat the food I cook,” he says. “I can probably boil water.” The refrigerator is stocked with Tupperware containers of vegetarian fare, delivered three times a week by a caterer.
Bolton is most fond of his 1,000-sq.-ft. bed-room suite, with its dimmer-controlled lighting, fireplace and balcony where he likes to have romantic dinners à deux. A few guitars lean against the wall by the king-size bed in case he’s struck by a midnight songwriting inspiration. “An evening with someone very special would start with snuggling by the fireplace with lots of pillows,” he says. Then they would share a late supper at a small handmade Italian table set with china and Baccarat crystal. The music? Marvin Gaye. But the details aren’t what’s important, says Bolton. “It’s really about who you’re with, isn’t it?”
If remotes maketh the man, Steve Harris, who plays defense attorney Eugene Young on ABC’s The Practice, has some explaining to do. Like how come it takes five of the handheld gadgets to power up the Sony big-screen home theater that dominates his three-bedroom Los Angeles pad? And what is this intense and sensitive actor doing with such a macho monstrosity in the first place? “I did not buy all of this,” the 6-ft., 215-lb. former college linebacker blurts out in his own defense. “It was a gift. A very generous gift.” Nonetheless, he won’t be returning it to the producers of Celebrity Jeopardy!, who bestowed the goods as a thank-you for appearing on their show earlier this year. “I can sit here and watch TV or listen to music,” says Harris, 33. “I can have all the remotes next to me, something to drink. I don’t have to move.” Indeed, if not for the home theater, a bookcase and a black leather sofa and two chairs, the vast maple-floored living room of Harris’s 1930s Spanish-style home would be bare. “Steve doesn’t pamper himself with a lot of trinkets and things,” says his mother, Mattie Harris. “He’s not materialistic at all.” Besides, as Harris explains it, “this is the first place I’ve had to go through the whole process of furnishing on my own—no roommates.” And, after two years, no pictures on the whitewashed walls either. “I don’t like things on the walls,” says Harris. “I have a whole lot of art and photographs, but I don’t have them hung.” His entertaining style is similarly minimal—”Usually just a few friends over to watch a game or hang out,” he says—which means the contemporary six-seat dining room table he recently picked up at L.A.’s eclectic Mortise & Tenon furniture store rarely gets a workout. Ditto for the fancy pots and pans that inhabit his red-and-white kitchen cabinets, although the bus driver’s son from Chicago’s West Side does occasionally cook—”the basics, chicken, pasta”—and washes everything himself. In another nod to his softer side, candles—some even cranberry scented—cast a moody light on his lair. “I just like having candles around,” says Harris, who is single but dating. “I guess I’m not nearly as forbidding as I am on television.”
As wild child Robbie Hansen on NBC’s Providence, Seth Peterson plays the kind of guy who gives parents of teenage girls nightmares. In real life, however, Peterson, 29, is pure domesticated animal, the type who’d invite a guest to his two-bedroom, two-bathroom San Fernando Valley apartment for a glass of sparkling water—and serve it on a coaster. “I get a lot of flak for my neatness,” admits the actor. Some of it comes from an ex-roommate—”We used to be really good friends, but he was just a lot messier than me,” Peterson says—and some of it comes from his girlfriend, actress Kylee Cochran, 24. “I thought I was bad—until I met him she laughs. “If something’s moved, he moves it back.” Still, the 6’2″ Peterson won’t apologize for his cleaning compulsion, which includes using two fabric-softener sheets in each wash (“They make your linens very fabulous”) and stacking his collection of James Bond videos in alphabetical order. “You have to dust,” he says. “And you have to vacuum.”
During the past 10 years, New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse, 40, has opened six restaurants, written five bestselling cookbooks and has starred in a top-rated culinary show on the Food Network. After operating at full boil for so long, he has been trying to bring his life down to a simmer. “For years, it’s been, ‘go, go, go,’ ” the 5’10” two-time divorce explains. “Now I’m trying to have more personal time.” Good thing he has almost finished renovating the two-story, French-style house that he bought two years ago. “It looks like a small chateau,” Lagasse says. Thanks to the help of local interior designer Ann Holden, it’s also decorated like one, with midnight blue silk covering the walls of the dining room and a marble tub in the master bath. The kitchen, of course, Lagasse planned himself (“I have every possible gadget”), though a few tips have come from his girlfriend, Alden Lovelace, 34, who works in real estate. “When we have an afternoon off, we shop for trash cans and Kleenex boxes,” she says. Still, the only women Lagasse officially lives with for now are his daughters from his first marriage, Jessie, 20, and Jillian, 18—which leaves plenty of space to indulge in what he calls “Emeril time.” “When it’s cold out,” Lagasse says, “I put on a big sweatshirt, make cappuccino and watch a football game.”
There’s a lot to be said about having the space to bring your work home with you, especially if you’ve spent the day as sportscaster Casey McCall on ABC’s critical hit Sports Night. “I can complete an 18-yard pass in the living room,” marvels Peter Krause, 34, of the Los Angeles-area, Spanish-style house that he bought in July. “I know because a friend and I tried.”
Not that the avid sports fan would be averse to a little furniture interference on the cavernous, nearly empty playing field that is the great room at casa de Krause (pronounced KROW-zuh), a three-bedroom, three-bath home built in the ’30s. But the actor, who spent nearly a decade living in rented apartments while working in films and TV series such as Cybill, is still marveling over the two fireplaces, beamed cathedral ceilings and abundant wood and tile work. “It’s like a work of art,” he says. “That’s why I bought it. Everyone makes fun of me for the lack of furniture, but I can’t see hiring a designer to help me decorate.”
Luckily, the previous owners gave the 6’1″ Alexandria, Minn.-born actor a head start, leaving behind a massive dining room table, living room draperies and three wrought-iron chandeliers (one of which turns off and on with two ropes). On his own, Krause recently scored a chocolate-brown leather chair and ottoman from Restoration Hardware for the living room. “I like to ‘stalk’ things,” he says. “Eventually I’ll fill up the house, even if it takes the rest of my life.” He has stocked the kitchen—”two of the first things I bought were a juicer and a ladder to pick the oranges” off the tree near his backyard pool, Krause says. That way he can pamper a steady stream of houseguests like Sports Night costar Sabrina Lloyd, who camped out for two weeks this summer when she was between residences. Lloyd, who calls her pal’s home “so beautiful and incredibly empty,” enthuses that “every morning he presses fresh juice.” Krause’s do-it-yourself attitude extends to laundry—”but not ironing, I’m more of a wrinkly guy.” Though he also cleans and repairs “little things,” he reports that women are generally most impressed “that there’s always toilet paper in the bathroom.” With everything in order, Krause likes to bask in his home’s glory. “Sometimes when I finish work, I’ll drive home, put the car in the garage, take off all my clothes and just jump in the pool,” he says with a sigh. “I feel like I’m on vacation.”
Baywatch‘s Michael Bergin spends six months of the year in a Pacific paradise taping the rechristened Baywatch Hawaii, but that doesn’t stop him from missing his two-bedroom apartment in West Hollywood. Bergin, 30, rented the place three years ago, when he was cast as lifeguard J.D., then launched a painstaking quest for the elements. “If I’m going to be living with it for a while, I want it to be perfect,” says Bergin, pointing out his moss-green velvet couch and down-filled chaise. His homey retreat is also filled with sentimental mementos, such as a sandstone vase filled with dried flowers—a gift from his onetime girlfriend, the late Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. Says his older sister Tina, a nurse: “Michael has a great sense of style, a lot like our mom’s.” That inherited taste is evident in striking touches: cast-iron candle sconces, a towering palm, a drawing of a little girl purchased at a crafts fair. “I adore kids,” says the 6’1″ Bergin, who became a dad on Oct. 8, when a former girlfriend gave birth to his son Jesse. Between work and fatherhood, the Naugatuck, Conn.-born actor has little time to date, but when he does invite a woman over, his approach is as comfortable as his decor: a rented video, some wine or beer and—don’t be fooled by his gadget-filled kitchen—takeout. “We’ll order in Thai or maybe sushi,” he says. “I am not a cook.”
“A mailbox with windows” is how Chris Isaak describes his two-bedroom San Francisco house. “It’s kind of like the Kramdens’ apartment. I loved The Honeymooners.” That could explain Isaak’s decision to stick with the living room furniture that his mom, Dorothy, a retired psychologist, picked up for him when he bought the place a decade ago. “I asked her to go to Goodwill and get me some tables and chairs. And that’s what’s here,” says the 43-year-old rocker and sometime actor (That Thing You Do!). In fact, Dorothy Isaak takes credit for her son’s “eclectic” taste. “I am a thrift-store junkie and so is he,” she notes. Indeed, Isaak’s home is as reminiscent of an earlier era as are his retro ballads. Take his bedroom: a re-creation—down to the tacked-up photos from sports and girlie magazines—of the room he slept in as a boy growing up in Stockton, Calif. “I took everything from my bedroom in my parents’ house and put it in my new bedroom. I took the wood paneling and the exact same ceiling light. It’s very relaxing; I feel like I have been lying there since I was 15.”
Isaak’s living room offers a great view of the Pacific, though, and the ocean is an easy walk away, even when he’s carrying a surfboard. “You tell people you live in California and surf, and they have a picture of a Gidget movie,” observes the 6’1″ Isaak, an avid wave rider. But given that this is San Francisco, “it’s more like some kind of German expressionist film—all foggy, cold and dark, and nobody around. Just me and the sharks.” And so what if his place is a bit small for entertaining? Says Isaak: “My friends and I go out to restaurants and let them clean up.”
On the set of CBS’s The Late Late Show, host Craig Kilborn doesn’t like having anything out of place, whether it’s a strand of blond hair—he keeps a handheld mirror close by for grooming touch-ups during tapings—or the pages of notes neatly piled on his desk. “He’s very organized,” says Zoe Friedman, senior talent coordinator for the show. Or as Kilborn himself puts it, “I don’t like a lot of clutter.”
But the decor of the three-bedroom, two-bath Mediterranean home that the 37-year-old comedian rents in the Hollywood Hills is a bit minimal even for his taste. “The walls are sparse, but the house itself is really cool,” concedes Kilborn, who moved into the 2,200-sq.-ft. property from a 900-sq.-ft. one-bedroom Manhattan apartment last year. Indeed, he came west with hardly enough furniture to fill his new, larger space—and thus far Kilborn is content to keep the green velvet draperies and Art Deco chandeliers that came with the place. “Whatever I had before is what I have,” he says. “I’m not buying anything until I buy a house.”
Well, hardly anything. The 6’5″ Kilborn did invest in outfitting his kitchen with gadgets both kitschy (a set of corn-shaped corn holders) and practical (a French press coffee maker). “Cooking elaborately at home is new for me,” he notes. “You have to get all the stuff you need.” And last summer he planted a container garden of tomatoes, rosemary, mint and basil in the backyard. Despite all that, “I still eat out too much,” the never-married father of an 11-year-old son admits. Maybe he’d stay home more if he had somewhere to eat other than his patio. Says Kilborn: “My next big purchase is a dining room table.”
When he picks it out, Kilborn, who hails from Hastings, Minn., won’t consult an interior decorator, but he’ll accept advice from friends and family. “My brother [Chris, 39] is into decorating and so is my girlfriend,” he says. “I’ve thought a lot about it, and I like mixing styles, like Arts and Crafts with Deco.” That adventurous spirit is already apparent in the industrial metal lamp in his office, the Indian-style armoire with metal bars in his dining room, and a mission-style Stickley chair in the living room. Recently, he also threw some ficus trees and ferns into the mix. “They’re a nice touch,” he notes. “One of them did die, but that’s okay.” After all, it means less clutter.
As an 8-year-old, Shemar Moore impressed his mother, Marilyn Wilson Moore, by picking out the border trim to go with the bathroom wallpaper. “He’s always had an eye for color,” she says, “so that was step one.” These days, the 29-year-old Moore, who plays the hunky Malcolm Winters on The Young & the Restless, is taking giant leaps. For his first home, a $320,000 townhouse in Toluca Lake, a suburb of L.A., the actor shunned the bachelor ideal of leather sofas and a pool table in the dining room. He decorated all 6 rooms and 2½ baths himself, with calm earth tones, overstuffed chairs and scented candles everywhere, and he plans to convert one room into a gym. “I wanted it to be my vision,” says the 6-ft. Moore. “I didn’t want to look in a magazine and copy what I saw.” He also ditched the idea of satin sheets in the bedroom. “You slide all over the place,” he says. “And forget trying to cuddle with someone.” Moore prefers to romance a date by baking cookies. “If a woman sees a man doing anything in the kitchen besides taking out the trash,” he says, “it’s ‘Oh, he’s the one, Mama. Daddy, buy your tux.’ ” But all that domesticity can wear a guy out. If Moore gets hitched, he says, he’ll let his bride handle any future decorating decisions: “I’ll say ‘Baby, go for it. Just let me have my chair, my remote and my gym.’ ”
When Scott Foley moved into the two-bedroom L.A. apartment he shares with a childhood friend, his decorating goals were modest. “I was hoping everything fit, and I wanted to have somewhere to sit when I’m watching TV,” he recalls. Not only was money tight—this was just before the 27-year-old actor soared to stardom as Noel on The WB series Felicity—but Foley had just broken up with a live-in girlfriend and “pretty much lost everything, including the cats” in the split, he says. Luckily, roommate Kirk Drew, a venture capitalist, had a U-Haul full of furniture. Foley’s only purchase was a king-size bed. “I’m 6’1″,” he says. “I’ve got to stretch.” Since then his possessions have grown. Candles crowd the mantel, and the wine rack is full to capacity. But there are still no knickknacks. Says Foley: “Guys don’t have dustables.” Maybe not, but there are items gathering dust—and offering silent testimony to the ways the Kansas native does not spend his time. Take his never-used Sony PlayStation. “I bought it because I figured, ‘Isn’t that what actors do?’ ” he explains. Then there’s the exercise bike. Says Foley emphatically: “I hate working out.”
There’s a new woman in Foley’s life now—Jennifer Garner, 27—whom he met in October 1998, when she guest-starred as Noel’s high school girlfriend on Felicity. She has since moved into an apartment down the street, and the two spend much of their free time playing cards. “When the candles are lit and the wine is being drunk and there’s a romantic CD on,” says Foley, “we’re playing gin.” They also enjoy cooking, and Foley, though “not what I would call a healthy cook,” is very good, Garner says. “If he makes mashed potatoes, he puts two sticks of butter and a tub of sour cream with two potatoes.” Best of all, “he cleans up as he goes along. When he’s finished, I just stick the plates in the dishwasher and say, ‘You are my man.’ ”