Giuliana Rancic knows all about the anticipation of taking home the gold. In addition to her roles as E! News co-anchor and style critic on Fashion Police, the network’s weekly wardrobe roundup, her most glamorous assignment happens during Hollywood’s award season. That’s when she greets A-list celebrities as they walk the red carpet toward lavish ceremonies where they hope to secure their industry’s most coveted trophies.
Now she and husband Bill—first introduced to the public as the season one winner of The Apprentice and now a developer, speaker, and co-star of his and Giuliana’s reality show—just took home a prize of their own. When they were in the final stages of building their Los Angeles home in the Brentwood neighborhood, they were over the moon to know that when they took the first steps into their new abode, it would be with their most golden accomplishment—infant son Duke. Duke’s arrival was highly anticipated, not only by his parents but also by millions of fans.
Giuliana and Bill’s touching experience has been a recurring headline in celebrity news since 2011, although not in the manner of a plot scripted for the purpose of publicity. Their story was all too real. A struggle with infertility led the pair, married in 2007, to in vitro fertilization, where a routine procedure discovered the then 37-year-old Giuliana had breast cancer. The surprising diagnosis resulted in a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.
Then, as their medical challenges were drawing to a close, their outlook began to improve. “Friends and family moved us into this house while we were in Denver awaiting the arrival of Duke,” explains Giuliana of the time she and Bill spent in Colorado prior to the birth of their baby, via surrogate, in August of 2012. “We stayed in Chicago, where Bill’s family is and where we also have a home, for the duration of my maternity leave. When we returned to Los Angeles, it was into our new home with our new baby. We could bury the bad memories from our former house. This was a fresh start for all of us.”
The move was orchestrated by a team of people who helped the Rancics while they were away. But every step of the building and design process to that point was a hands-on collaboration between the couple and the professionals they hired. Bill’s background is in development and real estate. A visionary with a keen eye for what “can be,” his passion is transforming an existing property into something functional and beautiful. That passion played an instrumental role in the home’s architectural details and led him to rework components that had already been constructed. Case in point: the slate countertops originally specified for the kitchen. Bill switched them to Carrara marble, and in the end, the kitchen that was first envisioned as darker in tone took on a light and airy look that he and Giuliana agreed would better reflect their tastes.
Once the construction of the house was completed, furniture, fabrics, colors, and lighting came up for scrutiny. Interior designer Lonni Paul, who worked closely with Giuliana to carry out the Rancics’ wishes, carefully examined all the design elements.
“They clearly articulated their vision to me, and our personalities clicked,” says Paul. “I asked them a series of questions, not just about what they wanted but, more important, what they didn’t want. Listening to the client is what informs my creativity.”
Giuliana, who ever-so-chicly talks design in the vocabulary of fashion, especially appreciated Paul’s ability to understand what the couple wanted—and be mindful of their budget. “Lonni loves to show you something pricey and then something that is a great bargain,” says Giuliana. “It’s like marrying one expensive statement piece with everything else that is budget-friendly in a wardrobe. It’s the testament of someone who truly understands style and design.”
The Rancics requested a few key elements that were fundamental to the compatibility of the interiors with their vision. First, the house needed to adopt a calming, serene palette. With chaotic schedules to fill their days, they wanted to retreat to a home that was a relaxed environment with little color. Starting in the living room, Paul chose furnishings of ivory, blue, and gray that are glimpsed the moment the front door opens. Striped tone-on-tone silk window treatments, tufted Chesterfield sofas in ivory linen, and a floral stripe hand-screened onto an elephant-colored grass cloth wall covering complement the clean lines of the home’s interior architecture.
Opposite the entry, the dining room was designed for the ease of this family-oriented couple that often hosts visitors. Comfort was a must. Chairs with casual linen slipcovers soften the buttoned-up appearance of handsome stripes on the wall.
The next design requirement was that the house maximize the temperate Southern California climate with livable exterior spaces. Paul designed the outside seating area as she would an indoor one. Sofas covered in white outdoor fabric, along with blue-and-white pillows and garden accessories, turned this space into Giuliana’s favorite spot. Here she curls up, watches television, and talks on the phone to girlfriends and her parents. “It’s my go-to alone place, where I can be still and listen to nature,” she says.
Although most of Paul’s assignments deal with total interiors, she specializes in nurseries and develops custom baby furniture through her line, PetitNest. So it was serendipitous that Baby Duke was on the way when the designer landed the Rancic home project. A mother of young twins herself, Paul demands that a nursery be a room for the entire family.
“Regardless of the proportions or budget, it’s important that this room embrace the entire family, with a place to hold the baby and read,” she says of the room she fitted with elements that support a nautical theme—an octopus triptych, a blue velvet sofa with nailhead trim, and a porthole mirror.
Now that their home is complete and well-used for life’s happiest moments—including Duke’s recent first birthday—the Rancics are anticipating many more blissful family memories. “This is the most meaningful of any place we’ve lived in together because it’s where we brought our baby home and became parents,” says Giuliana. “In past years, we’ve been in a hotel during the holidays. This year, we will put up our own tree.”
It’s with a sense of pride that Paul speaks of this project that was about so much more than developing welcoming interiors. It was also an effort that served as a needed reprieve from the difficult challenges that the Rancics faced in recent years.
“It was an honor and privilege to have their trust to finish this home after everything they had been through,” says Paul. “I wanted them to walk in with Duke and say, ‘Ah, we’re home.’ And that’s what happened.
“They left L.A. as a couple and returned home as a family. This is their reality now.”