Tour an LA Home That Went from Beige to Bold

When Blackish producer Courtney Lilly and film and media professor Miranda Banks spotted Emmy Raver-Lampman and Daveed Diggs’s vibrant California home on the cover of Architectural Digest, they were struck by designer Mandy Cheng’s bold use of color. Soon after, the couple hired the AD100 talent to personalize their Mediterranean-style home in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. “The house was in great shape, but we’re not really ‘white wall’ people,” Lilly says. “We wanted to add color, but not overwhelm people with it.”

Cheng, whose background is in production design, quickly jelled with her clients. “People are always hesitant because they think, It’s my home, and I need it to reflect me. But that’s my whole goal,” Cheng explains. “I don’t design with one style in mind.” The designer began the transformation in the formal living room, applying a terracotta Roman clay to the walls. “They were a little iffy on the terracotta at first,” Cheng says with a laugh. But the restoration of the fireplace surround brought the palette into focus. Beneath a layer of paint from a previous owner were original earthy-hued tiles by Ernest Batchelder—a leader in the Arts and Crafts movement whose designs can be found throughout historic homes in Southern California. “One little tile at a time, the restorer chiseled away the white paint and brought it back to life, which was incredible to watch,” Cheng says. Midcentury shelves lined with books, collected art on the walls, and framed vintage movie posters propped up along the floor imbue the room with the sense of personality the homeowners craved.

In the dining room, Cheng transformed what “was a white box with a coved ceiling” with a delightful mix of colors and textures. Sage green grasscloth wallpaper cocoons the space, accented by a deep purple rug and gold curtains. To give the coved ceiling more dimension, Cheng’s go-to millworker installed walnut trim, which complements Lilly’s midcentury dining set and record player. The green theme continues in the kitchen, where Cheng repainted the cabinets, hung botanical wallpaper, and wrapped the beams in walnut. She also transformed an awkward corner banquette into a built-in bar, opting for a freestanding table and chairs instead. “They entertain a lot, hence the bar,” Cheng reasons. French doors open up to the backyard and guest house. “The doors are always open. Their dog, Monkey, roams the property. He comes in and out. So it is true California indoor-outdoor living,” she says.

Upstairs, the designer punched up Banks’s office plus the primary bedroom and bath, which were all “a sad white” shade, Cheng says. During the pandemic, Banks conducted all of her lectures over Zoom. “She moved her desk weekly because she hated the layout,” the designer says. “So I gave her a statement background wall for her Zoom sessions—and I gave her the view.” In the bedroom, Cheng added warmth by cladding the walls in chevron grasscloth wallpaper and the ceiling in walnut. The bathroom benefited from a fresh coat of paint, which Cheng subconsciously color matched to the existing bathroom tile (“It’s literally a paint match!” she says), and a graphic wallpaper that makes the otherwise traditional fixtures feel modern.

The previous owner had converted the garage into a two-story accessory dwelling unit (ADU), which the homeowners used as a music room and Lilly’s office. “The most complicated space was Courtney’s office, which also needed to double as a guest room,” Banks says. “We are the kind of people who like having separation between rooms. We couldn’t figure out how to make one large room serve multiple purposes but also feel authentically like his office. Mandy’s approach was perfect.” Visually, Cheng separated Lilly’s work area and the guest retreat by adding tongue-and-groove paneling to the wall behind the guest bed and a built-in desk area to the adjacent corner.

Overall, Banks and Lilly say they were delighted by the small touches and details that Cheng incorporated throughout, taking the home from what they call “sober” to “colorful and playful.”

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