At Home Offstage

Virginia Gray is an associate editor of Los Angeles Times Magazine.

Actress Joanna Cassidy's house is as cheerful and pretty as she is. Her distinctive laugh (such an appealing part of the characters she portrays on television and in the movies) bubbles up as she describes the evolution of her relaxed, comfortable decorating scheme. "I really want to live in my house. I have three dogs, I love to entertain friends, and I don't want a hands-off kind of place that seems to say 'don't touch' or 'don't sit on me.' "

Cassidy, who has owned this house for five years, recalls a significant purchase she made 2 1/2 years ago. "I found an old claw-footed bathtub in a salvage yard and decided to have the master bathroom remodeled to incorporate it." One thing led to another. While working on the bathroom, builder Cal Cass and designer Karla Champion also created a closet and a dressing area. Since then, Champion has worked with Cassidy on every room in the house except the kitchen, which they hope to update soon. "I wanted the house to have a lighter, sunny, French- or English-cottage look--one that would be optimistic and easy to live with," Cassidy says.

Last summer, while Cassidy was out of the country filming "Club Paradise," due to be released in July, Champion and Cass completed the transformation of the garage-pool house into an exercise studio and guest house. This airy, high-ceilinged structure is a special retreat that contains a mini-kitchen and full bathroom. Here, Champion has used every inch of space to utilitarian and aesthetic advantage. French doors open onto the pool, and that view is reflected by a mirrored wall.

For Cassidy, health and fitness are of primary importance and having a serious gym at home is a dream come true. Here, in privacy, she can do aerobic exercises in front of the television, work out with weights, a rowing machine, stationary bike or treadmill, alone or with her trainer.


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