Feeling at home everywhere around the world is second nature to an urban nomad like Freida Pinto. Having such a global outlook allows you to experience all of the comforts of home wherever you are. It also poses a question—how do you curate your primary residence with touches from all the places you love from around the globe? That is what the actor and her fiancé Cory, who also favors earth tones, lots of texture, and a global feel, were facing when they bought their French Colonial home in Los Angeles last year. So, they turned to friend and designer Bobby Berk for their renovation. Berk, best known as Queer Eye's design guru, translated Freida and Cory's global-centric style and married it to rustic English and French detailing. The result is a gorgeous, welcoming home that emphasizes saturated colors, textural contrast, and elevated forms. We toured the home this summer and got the chance to speak with Freida and Bobby about their collaborative process, some of their favorite spaces, and a few styling tips to mirror the look. Read on for more from the two.
From Freida Pinto
Tell us a bit about how you and Bobby started working together on your stunning home renovation.
Bobby and I connected with each other during the first lockdown in April 2020. He was filming in Austin, Texas, and my partner and I split our time between Los Angeles and Austin. Bobby was part of our quarantine bubble in Austin, and we absolutely hit it off. I was already a fan of Queer Eye, especially the segments that covered home renovations with Bobby. I liked his style and vision on the show but also the heart he brought to each story. Not at all dissimilar to off-camera Bobby! I have always been obsessed with home makeovers and home renovation projects, but I hadn't bought my L.A. house yet, so I had no idea that we would actually do a project together.
What was your inspiration, and what was the feeling you wanted to create for your space?
Both Cory and I are drawn to earthy tones and textures. A little bit of old with a bit of new. Ultra-modern is just not our style, so we asked Bobby and his fabulous team if he could help us bring some new but lived-in finishes to our French Country-style home. Earthy tones like sage green, for example, and textures like wood and terracotta. To add the newer touch, we wanted some matte bronze-gold hints. While the lines are clean, we didn't want to play with too much symmetry. And most importantly, we wanted pops of surprises around the house which we achieved with wallpapers and wall coverings.
Similarly, what feeling do you hope to inspire when people walk into your home
We wanted the entire home and every single room to feel cozy, warm and inviting, and very elegant at the same time. I feel like we absolutely achieved it.
How would you describe your style, and did you have any must-have personal touches you asked Bobby to include?
My personal style is influenced by my culture but not overpowered by it. I loved colors but more as a side dish and not the main course. Generally, I feel relaxed in vintage and earth-inspired environments. The one incredible touch to this home that we absolutely loved that Bobby suggested was the inclusion of rattan in the furniture. This instantly connects me with India.
What has become your favorite space in your home after the renovation?
This is a difficult question, and I don't think I will be able to give you one space. For the mornings, I absolutely love my living room. The beautiful windows bring in the view of the mighty Pine trees on my street, and the blue rug just brings in a real sense of peace. I like quiet mornings, and I love listening to Om chants or the sound of meditative Tibetan bowls in this space. I do love my bedroom too. I am obsessed with the strawberry fields wallpaper, and again the bedroom helps me disconnect from work. The breakfast nook is another fun little space. It allows me to entertain my friends while I putter around in the kitchen.
We love the way just a few pieces anchor your bedroom. What made you choose such pared-down yet impactful styling?
I do not subscribe to overcrowding your living spaces, especially ones you retire to every evening for a restful sleep. We already chose a wallpaper that was pretty much a statement piece, so we simply decided to ground the rest of the furniture and upholstery with subtlety and elegance.
You describe yourself as an urban nomad. Now that you live full-time in Los Angeles, how do you like to spend your time when you're not working?
I actually do not live full-time in L.A. Once an urban nomad, always an urban nomad. I split my time between L.A. and Austin. But now that I have my own little oasis in L.A., I am always very excited to come back home and enjoy the gorgeous spaces it has. When I am not working, and if I am in L.A., I am quite introverted and will probably have a friend or two for a backyard hang. Otherwise, I love traveling with Cory to Big Sur and soak in that mountain mixed with ocean air every opportunity I get.
Bobby's Designer Feature
How would you define this project with Freida and your creative process working together?
I met Freida and Cory in Austin, TX, in early 2020 when I was scheduled to film a season of Queer Eye there. We were shut down right before we were supposed to start production due to the pandemic, and I had already locked in a rental for the duration of our schedule, so I ended up staying in Austin. The upside was that it gave me a chance to connect with these two wonderful people who have a home just down the street. They became a part of my Austin quarantine bubble. We got to know each other quite well and became fast friends!
When they asked me to do their L.A. home, I was excited to take on a more traditional project and translate their personality into something special for their main residence. I wanted to honor the French Colonial style of the home, so our goal was to marry the rustic English and French details with the global flair that Freida and Cory love. We paired blue and green accents with earthy neutrals, textural rattan, warm brass, and grounding blacks for a warm, layered palette. Reproduction wallpaper prints, Turkish-style rugs, and traditional furniture forms were mixed with more modern elements for a fresh and contemporary twist. I wanted the space to be fresh yet energetic, like Freida and Cory, and honor their aesthetic and nod to their diverse cultural backgrounds.
Freida's home original design featured striking mid-century elegance, were there design elements you wanted to keep in place and emphasize?
Yes! The home had good bones, so we kept many elements in place while prioritizing updates to other features. For example, the fireplace in the great room had a traditional mantle and stone surround that was in good condition that we decided to save and refresh. We also loved the original front door and hardware and preserved other elements like the wet bar and its vintage fixture. We gave the original blue tile in the powder room a new lease on life by dressing up that bath with new plumbing fixtures and a whimsical wallcovering that connected that bath to the rest of the design. We also focused on architectural features such as walnut beams, which added warmth to the great room, and married a modern element to more traditional details. We also opened the flow to the breakfast nook and kitchen from the dining room to create a more connected floor plan and allow that entire space to become the heart and hub of their home.
Any advice for those updating their living room—including a tip or two for people who want to recreate Freida and Cory's look there?
The space is mostly neutral, but we added touches of green and blue through the art, pillows, and rug. Introducing color to the room through these pieces allows you to change things more easily if you ever want to switch up your color scheme. Bigger-ticket investment items like the neutral sofa and chairs anchor the space and give you more flexibility in the future. We varied the textures for interest, using woven materials for that global feel while also introducing hits of black, which feel very modern.
What designer tip should we know when striking a balance between function and form in your living spaces?
When laying out the furniture, we prioritized pieces that were striking and beautiful yet comfortable. The layout in the great room is very conversational, as Freida and Cory love to have visitors and didn't want a T.V. in their more formal entertaining room. The space is very sophisticated but also warm and inviting. When executing this style, it's important to layer textures that help provide visual interest while taking the formality down a notch. The materials we chose created a welcoming vibe that encourages long hours of conversation.
Putting you on the spot as we did with Freida—what is your favorite space in the home?
My favorite space is probably the great room. There are so many fantastic pieces that we found from Lulu and Georgia, and the light that pours through the windows in there makes it such an inviting and warm space. What's not to love?