architecture

Ellen Pompeo opens the doors to her Malibu weekend home

Published 30th November 2022
Credit: Douglas Friedman/Architectural Digest
Ellen Pompeo opens the doors to her Malibu weekend home
Written by Faith Karimi, CNN
Ellen Pompeo still remembers swooning over the beach house the first time she saw it. There was something special about the modernist structure, perched on a blufftop overlooking the ocean in Malibu, California.
But there was one major hurdle: The cost. At the time, "Grey's Anatomy" — the ABC medical drama series on which Pompeo has played titular character Meredith Grey for nearly two decades — was still a new show, and the home was too expensive. She begrudgingly let go of her dream to own it.
But not for too long.
"I like to say I manifested this house," Pompeo told Architectural Digest in an exclusive interview for the magazine's January 2023 cover story.
Intricately-veined black marble covers accent walls throughout the home, including the living room.
Intricately-veined black marble covers accent walls throughout the home, including the living room. Credit: Douglas Friedman/Architectural Digest
Fast-forward to 2013, and the home was on the market again. By then, Pompeo was one of the highest paid actors on television, and jumped on the opportunity to add it to her real estate portfolio. (Her family's primary residence remains a 1920s Mediterranean-style home in Los Angeles.)
"I truly enjoy the craft and art of houses," she told the magazine. "It exercises a different creative muscle."

A classic property with modern touches

The 3,000-square-foot property, designed by midcentury architects Conrad Buff and Donald Hensman, is the perfect spot for weekend getaways. Originally built in 1979, it wraps around a central courtyard flowing with grass, palm trees and a swimming pool lined with crisp white marble.
The property's inner courtyard juxtaposes clean lines and crisp marble with lush greenery and pops of color on poolside furnishings.
The property's inner courtyard juxtaposes clean lines and crisp marble with lush greenery and pops of color on poolside furnishings. Credit: Douglas Friedman/Architectural Digest
To help with renovations on the teak-wrapped home, Pompeo and her husband, Chris Ivery, enlisted designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, who this year is among those on Architectural Digest's annual "AD100" list honoring top design, decor and architecture talents, alongside Nate Berkus, Hadley Wiggins, Andre Mellone, Young Huh, and Justina Blakeney among others.
"Some people want a sterile home that makes them feel like they're at a spa. But I love design that tells a story," Pompeo told AD.
Throughout the home are subtle nods to that décor principle, adding personality to its living spaces. The home also reflects "the sexy swagger of '70s fashion," as the magazine puts it — vintage terrace chairs and leather sofa in the living room; a 1970s cutting table from Yves Saint Laurent's studio in the entry foyer — and Pompeo's appreciation for the era's fashion icons, with framed photographs of Diana Ross and Grace Jones on display.
Surf's up! The January 2023 issue of AD offers a tour of Ellen Pompeo's Malibu retreat.
Surf's up! The January 2023 issue of AD offers a tour of Ellen Pompeo's Malibu retreat. Credit: Douglas Friedman/Architectural Digest
As someone the magazine describes as having "a weakness for real estate," this is not Pompeo's first home renovation. She's previously made over several properties, including a modern barn in Sag Harbor, New York. It marks her fourth project with Bullard, even, and there's more on the horizon. Pompeo and Ivery have bought the property behind their beach house, and plan to build out what Bullard describes as a "true Malibu estate."

A new home marks a new chapter

Pompeo is now stepping back from the role she's played for 19 seasons. Her character is saying goodbye to the fictional Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital when the show returns in February; a promo teases the episode in which Meredith Grey will leave Seattle for a new start in Boston.
Moving forward, Pompeo told AD she is preparing to embark on a new Hulu project, and is otherwise reveling both in her newly-found free time and her newly-renovated home — and its surroundings. That means long strolls on the beach with her dogs, and surfing sessions on her boogie board alongside her three children.
"I am entering a very exciting phase of my life, if I do say so myself," Pompeo said.