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Ellen DeGeneres home

Award-winning talk show host. Dancer extraordinaire. Now Ellen DeGeneres is adding interior designer to her list of accomplishments as well.

Since the 1990s, she has bought and sold more than a dozen houses — all with a unique style. “When I’m in a room, I want everything I’m looking at to make me happy,” DeGeneres tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday. “I’ve gotten better over the years. This didn’t happen to me right away. I shop a lot and I study a lot and I look at a lot of books and magazines. I just learned what I like.”

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Now the star is sharing what she’s learned in a new book, Home (which arrives in stores Oct. 27), along with a peek inside some of her previous homes. From her spacious villa in Santa Barbara to a mid-century classic in L.A.’s Holmby Hills, DeGeneres, 57, hopes to inspire others in interior design as well.

“I’m actually a little nervous about how much I’m sharing. But it’s important for people to see that this really is a genuine passion of mine, not just a business venture. I think people were kind of really surprised, like ‘Ellen’s into design?!’ But everyone who knows me and who is in my life has known that for a long time,” DeGeneres says.

Ellen DeGeneres home

Having moved around between various rental homes growing up in New Orleans, DeGeneres said she’s constantly on the search for that perfect house. “I had taste before money,” she insists. “But I just knew I had to get in the market. It’s like jumping into a moving jump rope. You’re kind of scared to death to do it but you have to get in there.”

Now married to Portia de Rossi, DeGeneres is grateful the two share similar styles. “Portia’s into art deco more than I am, but she loves everything that we’re doing,” she adds. “We are having a hard time staying put. I keep trying to find a better home. But I’m happy. This is what I love to do.”

For more of DeGeneres’ interview — including exclusive photos of her previous homes and her tips for interior design — pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Julie Jordan, @juliejordanc