In Karina Miller’s kitchen, there’s room for just one cook | My Favorite Room

Karina Miller
Film producer Karina Miller with her dog Molly in her home in Studio City.
(Gabriella Angotti-Jones / Los Angeles Times)

Film producer Karina Miller finds respite and creative autonomy in her cozy Studio City kitchen, where she’ll happily cook for you — just don’t try to help.

“The short answer is control. I like to cook by myself, because as soon as somebody else is in the kitchen I have to manage them, and I manage people all day long,” said Miller, 43, founder of Sparkhouse Media, under which she’s produced “The Big Ask,” “To the Bone” and “Semper Fi,” which was just released on Blu-ray and DVD.

The kitchen of her 1,396-square-foot home is not only equipped with her dream cookware and appliances — her stove has eight burners in three different sizes and a dual-fuel oven — it’s also one place where she can oversee an entire creative process from start to finish, by herself.


“My job is wrangling like 200 people in months to make something creative in support of their vision, whereas when I’m cooking, it’s just me and I have more freedom. And I just love feeding people; it de-stresses me,” said Miller, who solo-cooked all the main meals for “The Big Ask,” mindful of its mere $150,000 budget.

“Three courses plus dessert,” she said. “I couldn’t just make one thing.”

Miller, who calls herself “a big bargain hunter,” snagged her fridge, the double dishwasher, the stove, hood and steam oven — all by Viking — at Appliance Outlet in Northridge for less than the retail price of just the stove.

Full sets of dark blue and light blue Le Creuset cast iron cookware were gifts from her mom, Patricia Taylor, and are nestled atop the stove.

Her brother, Keanu Reeves, got her three psychedelic pink-and-black shadow portraits of strippers, which boldly complement the royal blue walls and backsplash of sea foam green arabesque tiles.

Miller opted for white and light gray quartz countertops, which are less porous than marble and good for baking the most scrumptious pumpkin pies (which I might have obligingly tried).

“It’s about the spice,” she said.

Karina Miller
“I just love feeding people; it de-stresses me,” said film producer Karina Miller, shown in her Studio City kitchen.
(Gabriella Angotti-Jones / Los Angeles Times)

Why is this your favorite room?

Our real estate agent asked what things I had to have in a house, and I said a kitchen that opens out into a space where people can sit and keep me company while I’m cooking. I really like to cook for people. Cooking, and baking specifically, really keeps me calm.

What do you like to cook?

I’m a big cupcake person. This is my favorite season, so I do a pumpkin spice cupcake with an orange spice cream cheese frosting. I like making meats, like steaks and roasted tenderloins, things like that. Lately, I’ve been really into my Lebanese cookbook, because my husband’s mother was Lebanese and my brother [Keanu] was actually born there, so I’ve been trying to get to know food from other cultures.

This is such a cozy, colorful kitchen nook.

This is basically where we live. It’s really comfortable to sit here, read scripts and drink coffee with a view knowing everything is so organized around me. This nook fabric was from the industrial section — we have three dogs and we knew we were going to be spending a lot of time on it so we wanted it to be durable. We liked the tweed style because it picked up a lot of the different colors in the room and it’s really soft. The fixture above is from deKor in Atwater Village. The style is called Sputnik pendant light; I guess it’s kind of Russian constructivism.


Favorite memory in here?

This Thanksgiving was the first time we had eight people over. My husband and my brother were watching football, my friend was helping mix drinks and I was cooking. We got to really test our theory that a lot of people could be in here enjoying the space and still be really comfortable, and I could be cooking but still interacting. I had a whole chart of my oven schedule — my friends brought stuff that I could heat up in the steam oven. All the stuff got to be tested and it went really well and wasn’t stressful.