Decorate Like a Femme Fatale: Ava Gardner's Flea Market Chic

Ava Gardner never felt quite at home in Hollywood, but soon found her place in Madrid, a city she once said, resembled herself. 

Embracing its culture of bullfighting and flamenco, she moved into a home in La Moraleja. She took her time decorating it, hand picking antiques she gathered from local markets. I love that she did this! 

Read on for some interior design inspiration, and if you want to see photos of Ava's homes, there are some good ones on this blog here. 


Items Inspired by Ava Gardner's Style

edgar-degas-interior-design-cover-55_days-peking-cover_toreador_charlton-heston-coconut-cake-birthday-fracas-fragrance-perfume-ava-gardner-classic-golden-age-cinema-hollywood-fashion-inspiration-marilyn-monroe-1940s-1930s-beautiful .jpg


Ava's first home was a pink house above Nichols Canyon in LA. She chose a series of Degas' dancing girls for her bedroom. 



She lined her walls with massive walnut bookcases, filled with titles from classic literature, many of which she had read. 

Subscribe to receive exclusive content including the Starlet Stenographer series!

* indicates required
marilyn monroe red couch


Ava's home in Madrid contained an extensive collection of Jazz and Flamenco CDs. 

louis-toreador_charlton-heston-coconut-cake-birthday-fracas-fragrance-perfume-ava-gardner-classic-golden-age-cinema-hollywood-fashion-inspiration-marilyn-monroe-1940s-1930s-beautiful .jpg


Ava filled her new home with Louis XV furniture such as this one; typified by its ornate carvings, I bet they looked gorgeous. 

green-lamp-louis-toreador_charlton-heston-coconut-cake-birthday-fracas-fragrance-perfume-ava-gardner-classic-golden-age-cinema-hollywood-fashion-inspiration-marilyn-monroe-1940s-1930s-beautiful .jpg

Green lamPSHADES

Ava seemed to love green lampshades -- you see many of her lamps featuring this color following her from home to home, in fact. And every room seemed to have a lamp with a green lamp shade! Were they to match her green eyes? 

Marilyn MOnroe table



Need more interior design inspiration from bombshells of golden hollywood? 

Several notes in the spirit of doing the right thing... Ava Gardner did NOT endorse any of the products listed here, but based upon my research they look very similar to things she actually owned (you can see the original photos from her house with some Internet searching). That said, if you buy from any of the links included above rather than going straight to the vendor site from Google or another search engine, I get a portion of your purchase at no cost to you. 

Be a Pest! Life Lessons from Lauren Bacall

Be a Pest! Life Lessons from Lauren Bacall

Do a quick Google search on Lauren Bacall and you will get a steaming pile of stories of intimidation -- from what I can tell, a casual encounter with the woman could be an absolute dream -- or your worst nightmare. Perhaps it was her smoldering eyes that scared the living daylights out of people, but people seemed to be truly frightened by the woman.

Classic Films Made Here: Wandering the Warner Bros. Lot

It goes without saying -- Warner Brothers has made some of the greatest classic films ever, from Casablanca to Citizen Kane. Recently I attended an event at the lot -- whilst others thrilled at the free hot pretzels, and the house music blared from Gilmore Girls' gazebo (the party was hosted in the "Stars Hollow" set, one could literally enjoy a coffee in Luke's Diner), I was in starstruck wonderment of a different sort. 

I wandered through the facades that once served as the setting for films such as Bonnie & Clyde, or Sinatra's Oceans 11; as you can imagine, I was in heaven. 

I had the opportunity to take the tram tour a couple of times. I had done this several years ago, but WB has changed a lot. They have added a classic films section, which made me insanely happy. Seeing the costumes Bogie and Bergman wore during the iconic "Here's lookin' at you" scene from Casablanca gave me goosebumps. Call me a silver screen dork!

I loved that the tram drivers threw in a couple of classic film stories, and I wanted to share them here. 

While we were on the Big Bang Theory set, she shared that occasionally they will see a cat taking a little snooze on the couches. It turns out that these cats are the progeny of cats let loose by James Cagney -- who wanted to help control the pest problem on the lot. Does that make these cats Hollywood royalty? Alas, I didn't sight one during our visit. 

As we drove past Stage 29, she pointed out the egregiously large roof -- it is the largest stage not just on the lot, but in all of North America. Why? Because Marion Davies wanted a tall stage. WB said no, they wouldn't go to the trouble, or spare the expense. So what did she do? Talk to her rich boyfriend, William Randolph Hearst. The entire building was LIFTED off the ground, you can see the original level begins just above those pillars on the bottom half. 

One might think this was a little frivolous of Marion Davies, but remember, she returned the favor to good 'ole Hearst two-fold later on, as I have recounted in this article about the ghosts of Hearst Castle. 

Warner Bros. continues adding to the tour -- with thousands of guests visiting every day, it has become quite a popular thing to do in Los Angeles. It is getting more and more commercial, but I love that it is still primarily a functioning studio -- the tours are secondary, and you never get the same tour twice. In fact, the guide mentioned that sometimes the stages are so overbooked that they simply take that day's tour group on a parking lot tour! Even the guides don't know what they are going to be doing that day, they get the route each morning. 

In other words, while we may not encounter a mechanical Godzilla, maybe one of these days I will encounter one of James Cagney's cats... 


June! Modern headlines from the month served with a Classic Hollywood twist...

June! Modern headlines from the month served with a Classic Hollywood twist...

Things are heating up, aren't they? I hope you get a chance to get outside, enjoy some sunshine, and take in some good old vitamin D. 

I love this sentiment: 

“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.” 
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne's House of Dreams

A Few of Her Favorite Things: Ava Gardner

A Few of Her Favorite Things: Ava Gardner

Rita Hayworth. Vivien Leigh. Marilyn Monroe. And up there with the rest of the greatest screen sirens, stood the pillar of a woman, whose image graced entire sides of buildings to promote the film noir classic The Killers. (It worked, Ava became a star, and fans came in droves.) 

But perhaps her best intro comes from the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy, Fred, and Ether visit The Brown Derby, or as Lucy calls it, "the watering hole" for the rich and famous.

A Few Of Her Favorite Things: Marilyn Monroe

A Few Of Her Favorite Things: Marilyn Monroe

It's June 1, and in 1926 the most iconic bombshell to ever live was born. Do you share some favorite things with the inimitable Marilyn Monroe? 

You're about to find out! Turn on some Louis Armstrong (one of her favorite singers) and pour the bubbly as we celebrate some of her favorite things, pictured below. Click on the photos to read some incredible (and even eerie) stories.

End of May! Modern headlines from the month served with a Classic Hollywood twist...

Are flowers busting out everywhere near where you live? I have been noticing them creeping up all over the cement jungle of Downtown LA. Secret spots such as the Lillian Disney memorial garden at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, or the Japanese temples in Little Tokyo offer great respite.

These "blooms busting out all over" have been thinking a lot about flowers and the role they play in films, from Easter Parade to Rebecca. I love this sentiment from Emma Stone: 

The end of 'City Lights' makes me cry every time I see it - when Charlie Chaplin walks by the shop window and the once-blind girl brings him a flower and pins it to his lapel. 

Let's appreciate these little gifts that bust out every year in cinematic splendor. We tend to go about our busy lives without appreciating the little things in nature. So this month, let's make it a goal to take time to do that -- to be our happiest-get-out-there-and-make-the-world-a-more-awesome-place self. 

In that spirit, grab a bundle of flowers from the nearest farmers market, pop them in a vase as you kick up your feet and  enjoy these handpicked stories from the month. They are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.


Queen Rania of Jordan just stepped out in Grace Kelly-esque tweed. You will love this look! 

The love between Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz is iconic, but her love for her 2nd husband seems to be just as fiery if these letters tell us anything. 

Grace Kelly's childhood home has been fully restored. 

Carole Lombard and Clark Gable's home is on the market. I want, I want!!! 

Looking for your next getaway destination? This vacation home where Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller once vacationed is up for rent. 

Audrey Hepburn's pearl earrings are up for auction!!!

Subscribe to receive exclusive content including the Starlet Stenographer series!

* indicates required


That's all for now, folks!

Don't forget to sign up for The Cocktail Adventure! You will be heartily supplied for a summer of imbibing, and able to whip up a cocktail or two at home without embarrassing yourself. It's fun. Maybe a little too fun.

xoxo -- Stefanie's a few more things you may have missed from She Wore Stars!