January 11, 2019 08:30 AM

When Shonda Rhimes first saw the L.A. mansion she now calls home, she thought it was an eyesore.

“Six years ago, standing on the curb, a baby on each hip, a ten-year-old by my side, in the shade of a for sale sign, all I could think was: What an ugly, wrong house,” Rhimes writes in Architectural Digest‘s February issue, where she shows off the now-stunning property.

A sprawling 8,400 square feet and the color of “pea soup,” the home featured quirky ceilings and two separate design styles, almost as if it had been split in half, she says. Still, she was drawn to it.

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Michael Mundy for Architectural Digest
Michael Mundy for Architectural Digest

“As someone who spends most of her days crafting stories for television (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, etc.), I can only explain it like this: The house felt like … good story,” she writes. “And every inch of me wanted to write it.”

So she bought the house and teamed up with designer Michael S. Smith, who decorated the Obama’s private quarters in the White House.

Rhimes and Smith began with the exterior. They returned it to its original stone facade, replaced the wooden front door with a glass one, and “blew out the roof of the first floor loggia” to create more natural light in the home with two glass-and-iron doors that open onto a patio.

Michael Mundy for Architectural Digest

“My favorite thing to do when entertaining is open all of those doors and enjoy an indoor/outdoor dance party,” the show runner writes.

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While she loves to entertain, the center of Rhimes’ home life is her family.

“My family is a kitchen family,” she writes. “I host holidays at my house, and on a daily basis my kids and I can be found hanging out in here. So I needed a big, comfortable kitchen we could relax and spread out in.”

Architectural Digest

In fact, everything about her home was designed with her kids in mind. Although she has antique pieces, like a circa-1690 William and Mary seaweed marquetry cabinet from Holland, she never wants her three children to feel like they can’t feel at home in a room.

“This is a place where kids can play pretend and spill things,” she writes, “and I do not ever stress about something expensive and antique being stained.”

Of course, the home has personal touches for Rhimes as well — a record collection, a series of works by one of her favorite artists, Hughie Lee-Smith, and a painting that once belonged to Maya Angelou — that add color to her living room and library.

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And while she admits renovating the home was no easy feat, she finally feels like it’s the place where she and her family belong.

“Weaving our way into the story of this house has been the trip of a lifetime,” she writes. “This formerly wrong and ugly house and I, we are family now. We are home.”

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