West Wing
The West Wing Meets Architectural Digest

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POTUS is in the House
The May 2002 issue of Architectural Digest features Martin Sheen on the cover, looking exceedingly presidential in a navy suit, sitting in a luscious chocolate brown leather chair in the study of his Santa Monica pied-à-terre, the subject of the cover story. Of course, since this is Hollywood we're talking about, what qualifies as a pied-à-terre is the sort of thing for which many people would give their eye teeth, and which, I expect, costs more to buy and renovate than many of us will earn in our entire lives. The article, "Martin Sheen: A Canyon Hideaway for the Actor and His Wife" by Penelope Rowlands, is of course pretty much a puff piece: this is Architectural Digest, not The National Enquirer. Sheen describes the house as having been a run-down sixty-year-old cottage, unwanted by anyone else in the "very hoity-toity" neighbourhood in which it sits. (Psst, Martin: I bet your neighbours read Architectural Digest.) Given the spectacular views overlooking the mountains, the Pacific Ocean, and the Santa Monica Canyon afforded by this property, I can't believe there'd be any trouble selling a house in such a location, whether to someone who wanted to fix it up or gut it or raze it to the ground, but then I'm the sort of person who looks at a filthy Victorian house in the sticks and falls in love with what could be, and to whom arguments about time/money/ blood/sweat/ tears/sanity fall on deaf ears. So I'm probably not the best judge of what people should see when they look at real estate. Anyway, Martin and his wife Janet actually have a home in Malibu, which Martin describes as his "favourite place in the world," but the notorious California commuting problem finally forced them to consider getting a place closer to the Hollywood studios. They purchased this house during the filming of The American President. Apparently, when they bought it, Martin felt they couldn't afford to renovate it, and believed they'd just use it as the equivalent of a crash space. Janet claims to have smiled and gone along with this, and then proceeded to do what she wanted: "Just as [she] always [does]." And what Janet wanted was, with the assistance of architect Carl Volante and her friend, designer Barbara O'Kun, to do the house over completely, giving free expression to her artistic impulses. She describes it as having been a "little hole in the wall" (oh, how I wish there were "before" pictures so I could ascertain just how much of a hole in the wall; I can't help but suspect that very affluent people probably have a different definition of "hole in the wall" than you and I do). She states, "When I got going, there was no stopping me." Sing it, sister. That's the problem with renovating and redecorating: everything you touch makes everything you don't touch look worse by comparison. You have to keep going, and going, and God help me, going. Can I get an amen?

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West Wing

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