A House Fit for Film: Three Features of Joss Whedon’s Santa Monica Home

If you’ve seen Joss Whedon’s summer flick, Much Ado About Nothing, you may be wondering about the film’s modern but classic set with its spacious kitchen, garden amphitheater, and European-styled wrought iron accents. Where did Whedon find this attractive location? As it turns out, it was in his own backyard….or, it is his backyard (and house), rather. Joss’s wife Kai Cole is an architect who completely refurbished the couple’s 1920s home, filling it with reclaimed wood and tiles from France and opening up the space with dramatic, breezy archways and leaded glass windows. Consider the following three features of Joss and Kai’s home that may just inspire you to transform your own home into a Mediterranean style getaway.

A House Fit for Film: Three Features of Joss Whedon’s Santa Monica Home

Beatrice (Amy Acker) hides under the kitchen island to eavesdrop in this scene from Much Ado About Nothing. Still from ew.com

Outdoor Amphitheatre

Since the 1990s, when Whedon began filming his now iconic series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he and Kai began a tradition that eventually led to the filming of Much Ado: Shakespeare Brunches. On Sunday afternoons, cast members of Buffy would gather at the home to share the Bard’s work around the table. This gathering inspired the creation of the stone amphitheater that now inhabits a corner of their backyard. The open air performance space features a tier of rock slab seats around a semi-circular grass stage. Fittingly, this became the site of Much Ado’s famous wedding scene.

Built-In Bookshelves and Window Seat

A House Fit for Film: Three Features of Joss Whedon’s Santa Monica Home

Still from rogerebert.com

The tragically romantic scene of Much Ado during which Beatrice (Amy Acker) and Benedick (Alexis Denishof) declare their love to one another is a feast for the ears, with some of the film’s most beautiful dialogue. But the setting of the scene is also a feast for the eyes. Whedon’s family room features a cozy window seat, within which hangs a petit chandelier that offsets the room’s rustic ceiling beams and floor tiles. Flanking the window are two built-in bookshelves, the perfect home addition for Shakespeare lovers, writer/directors, and larger-than-life characters alike.

Airy Kitchen

A House Fit for Film: Three Features of Joss Whedon’s Santa Monica Home

Photo from latimes.com

If there’s one thing every viewer of Joss’s new film will envy (besides his diverse talents as a writer and director, of course), it’s his spacious kitchen. As you’ll see in Much Ado, the kitchen is large enough for a modest crowd of people to comfortably fit around the island. Plus, the hardwood floors, raised dinette alcove, and antique furnishings give it a stylish but timeless feel. And, as you’ll see in the photo above, Kai incorporates the home’s signature arches into the design with an arched shelf in the dinette and another in the shelf space above the counter.

Seeing this movie will make you want to jump into the Whedon/Shakespeare universe to attend a party at the beautiful home of Much Ado and hang out with the sharply witty Beatrice and Benedick. But since that’s not likely to happen, why not explore the exciting, and possibly overlooked, architectural elements in your own living space—and perhaps add new ones—and host some very inspired parties of your own?

About the Author:

Molly Hilton has devoted more than 30 years to home renovation and custom home building. Her unique design concepts bring homes to life with colours and unique pieces that are artfully placed to draw attention to the most powerful and distinctive features of a home. Molly is the owner of Renaissance Painters in Toronto.