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Inside Rita Moreno's Colorful California Home
Rita Moreno and her late husband Leonard Gordon built their cozy and contemporary house in the San Francisco Bay Area 16 years ago. One unusual request the legendary actress, 85, recalls she had for the architects was, “As few walls as possible,” she tells PEOPLE. Her design decision may have slightly backfired, though, as she adds, “It’s so hard to hang art when there are no walls!” But Moreno makes do, constantly switching her collections around to give the 5,500 square-foot multilevel build an ever-changing aesthetic that she still enjoys today. “I love this house,” she says.
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Moreno’s garden room is a colorful explosion of plants, masks and artwork that pays tribute to her hometown of Puerto Rico. “This is sort of the attic,” she laughs. “It’s everything that wouldn’t hang and look right anywhere else.”
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After moving in, it didn’t take long for Moreno and Gordon to fill the house with decor. “I’m a thing person, oh man,” she says. “We were up to our chins in boxes for months.”
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For years, Moreno kept her many awards hidden away, but Gordon encouraged her to display them. “I felt it was so show-offy,” she says. “He said something so important, he said, ‘Rita, you didn’t buy these, you earned them.’ And from then on I displayed them with great pride.”
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An Actress's Oasis
“This is my favorite room in the house,” Moreno says of her master bedroom. “It’s the one where I do the most quiet living.” When Gordon was alive, the suite was painted a “very handsome” charcoal gray, but now boasts a neutral-colored grasscloth wall treatment. “I love texture,” she says. “I just adore being in here.”
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'Feminine But Not Fru-Fru'
“After [Gordon] passed away, I decided we’re going to go very feminine, but not fru-fru feminine,” Moreno continues of her redesigned retreat. A collection of garland made from real cotton, masks from Bali and “wonderful hats I got in China,” above the bed give the space her desired soft and serene look.
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The 'Lust' and 'Love' of Her Life
A photo of Marlon Brando is also displayed in her bedroom. “Why that picture of Marlon Brando? Because he was a big love of mine in my life,” says Moreno matter-of-factly.
“This one, it’s almost seems like a vignette out of a movie, so that’s why it’s there. He was the lust of my life and that over there is the love of my life,” admits Moreno, gesturing to a framed photo of her with her husband, pictured in an embrace, in silhouette. “This was taken by a very famous fashion photographer at the time, it is a really special photo. I just love it because even though we are silhouetted, you can still see features, which I think is so special. A special photo in a special room for a special mama.”
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Cool and Colorful
Although Moreno, who's appearing in Netflix's One Day at a Time reboot, surrounds herself with plenty of sentimental mementos, she still has fun with her bright abode. “I’m not afraid of color,” she says. “I like color.” She also enjoys hosting gatherings at the California estate, admitting, “It is a great party house.”