Shabby Chic

Shabby Chic-style pieces, including the mannequin lamp, at the Malibu house (Shaan Kokin / Julien’s Auctions)

THIS weekend, MTV reality stars the Osbournes -- heavy metal icon Ozzy Osbourne, wife and manager Sharon, daughter Kelly and son Jack -- will engage in that most Southern Californian tradition: the estate sale. Of course, this family has approached the sale more like a multimedia event: A public exhibition of more than 500 lots organized by Julien's Auctions and staged at the Gibson Guitar showroom in Beverly Hills ends today, followed by a sale Friday and Saturday, webcast live on www.auctionnetwork.com. Proceeds will benefit the Sharon Osbourne Colon Cancer Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Sharon Osbourne phoned from London to discuss her family's decorating predilections and the empty-nesters' task of downsizing:

What made you decide to auction off your family heirlooms?

Well, the kids have left, and we have a new house with completely different décor. As you get older, your tastes change. We've definitely gone through the Goth phase. Now, Ozzy and I have gone more contemporary, more streamlined, stark modern and light. No more black furniture. We're moving into simplicity, and I am trying to educate myself that less is more. I'm a hoarder by nature, but having five storage rooms on two continents is a complete nightmare.

Was letting go an emotional process?

Not to me. Everyone else was like, "No, Mum, don't. I remember when we got this." So the kids have taken what they really loved and we've moved on with the understanding that people are the only things that cannot be replaced. It's very unhealthy to be too attached to possessions. When I was younger and had loads of stuff around, it made me feel safe, but then it just drags you down.

The first auction session will feature furniture from your English manor in Buckinghamshire. Is it a historical residence?

Yes, it is a listed building, so we can't alter the structure. It's about 23 miles from the center of London and was built in the 1890s for Benjamin Disraeli, the first prime minister of Jewish descent in England. But you'll never guess who sold it to us: George Lucas. He never actually lived in it, but when they were filming "Star Wars" in England, he had designers staying there because there are eight bedrooms and there was so much land that they had room to test out things for the movie.

How did you decorate it?

A lot of the walls are stone, and there is wood paneling in most of the rooms, so I wanted the furniture to be from the same century as when the house was built. Most of the furniture is English in style, but the Empire mahogany salon suite with gold leafing came from Russia. There are a lot of Victorian and Georgian period pieces as well. As for which King George that was, don't ask me -- I left school at 12.

The auction catalog describes a pair of Venetian gilt wood mirrors that were cracked in a fire. What happened?

That was probably caused by a bronze lamp, which had a beautiful glass shade that shattered. So that thing is in the sale. The mirrors are from an antique auction that they have every year outside of Birmingham, where Ozzy is from. I bought them about 30 years ago and they are so gorgeous, I don't know why I even put them in the auction.

The items from your Malibu home show a distinct taste for the Shabby Chic look. That's not very rock 'n' roll, is it?

It was a bit much. Too twee. I got a lot of the furniture from a store on Abbot Kinney in Venice. One day when I was shopping, I spotted this old mannequin -- a seamstress' dummy, actually, for fitting clothes -- and I had them turn it into a lamp for me.

So you're a lighting designer?

I don't like to call myself a designer. I'm more of an old tart, I would think [laughs]. It's a real pain decorating a home.

You're selling a couple of telescopes. Are you amateur astronomers?

Being at the beach, we like to look at the sea life and the stars, but actually, I think we're just nosy neighbors.

Lot 122 is his-and-hers hand towels? Do they have Osbourne DNA?