Olivia Culpo doesn’t make hasty decisions, and her journey to a new home in Los Angeles was no different. The former Miss Universe, an actress and entrepreneur who lived in a very pink, girlish 1,300-square-foot loft — half of which was “actually a glamor room and closet” — took a long look at real estate before landing in Encino. “I lived in the middle of Hollywood, in the middle of all the noise, and I realized I really wanted something that felt quieter, almost like a sanctuary,” she says. “A break from the city.”
But finding the perfect home, a new five-bedroom house with backyard views and a pool to welcome her large, close-knit family, was only the first step. The interior part would take much longer. “For a lot of my friends and family, when year one turned into year two and I still barely had any furniture, everyone was panicking, like, why is it taking so long?” But, says Culpo, “I’m a very slow decision maker, I’m very careful and methodical.” And, she adds, “I just couldn’t decide!”
Culpo enlisted the help of an extra patient and trusted collaborator: Jess Diab. (The construction of the house was done by iBuild in LA) Diab designed her aforementioned “little star of a loft” in 2017, in collaboration with Orlando Soria and Hayneedle at the time. The two made progress, but then “the pandemic came and Olivia went home, to Rhode Island, and watched Kelly Wearstler’s MasterClass — like we all did,” Diab says. “To know her from before, this marked [a shift]. We started talking about design in a different way. It was a perfect melting pot of these factors… And she understood the power of home in a way we couldn’t before. That changed the course of everything.”
Fully invested, the couple scrapped their design plans entirely and began furnishing the house piece by piece, quite literally, with a mix of new and vintage elements found in showrooms, on shopping trips and through Chairish and 1stDibs. Diab would occasionally meet with her jetsetting client on a 37-inch desktop computer where she would drop the couches, chairs, or tables she considered in renderings. “Each piece has lived in different rooms,” says Diab. The designer and Culpo moved furniture from place to place to find the most harmonious positioning.
This cautious but deliberate pace may have been slow, but Diab feels it is the responsibility of Culpo to truly appreciate everything in her home. “All the designers can turn your house around in 24 hours, and the photoshoot looks great, but you don’t have any connection to those pieces,” she says. Culpo admits that hurting over each element “wasn’t the easiest way, but I think it was the most rewarding for me.”
The process was also a real learning experience for the fashion influencer. Culpo realized that she is a sucker for symmetry and has a strong affinity for combining textures. “I learned the importance of using different materials to make a room feel full,” she says of developing “an eye, because I was just so, so meticulous with every aspect.” In her spare time, she delved into French architecture and the work of many French interior designers, plus Instagram and Pinterest, seeking a calming, sophisticated aesthetic that would showcase unique textures and neutral tones. Unconsciously, the palette of Culpo’s dog Oliver Sprinkles’ coat appears to be reefing. “It wasn’t meant to be,” she says and laughs. “I just really love my dog, so maybe that inspired my decision making without me realizing it.”