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When she first laid eyes on her 1923 Tudor, Tiffani Thiessen fell in love with its open layout, big backyard and storied past as the former house of Jack Warner, one of the founders of Warner Bros. studio. But the decor—lots of mirrors and faux finishes—left something to be desired. So the actress, best known for her roles on Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills, 90210, began the lengthy process of renovating with husband Brady Smith.
"We're both big fans of modern, but we wanted to honor the traditional bones of the house and keep the sense of history," says Tiffani, mom to Harper, 5, and Holt, 9 months. With that goal in mind, each room showcases its own special blend of old and new. Take the kitchen, for instance, where a beadboard-clad island and farmhouse sink play nice with industrial bar stools and sleek stainless-steel appliances. Or the dining area, where an original stained-glass window harmonizes with a trendy Moroccan shag rug. For Tiffani, the magic is always in the mix—that's what makes a space truly inviting, or a homemade meal memorable.
The host of Dinner at Tiffani's on Cooking Channel says, "My recipes focus on what's familiar, fresh and easily adaptable, and my design style's the same. If you stick with a neutral palette and understated furniture, you can always change things up with accessories and art."
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A full kitchen remodel topped Tiffani's to-do list. The wall of windows and white custom cabinetry brighten up the space, while Restoration Hardware pendants add task lighting for prep work. Crown molding, Silestone countertops and new appliances, including double ovens for Tiffani's famous flatbread pizzas, round out the classic, clean look. "I let the food do the talking and bring bold pops of color into this room," says Tiffani of the black, white and gray palette.
The oversize island, outfitted with an extra sink and a built-in walnut cutting board, is a cook's dream. "Everyone congregates here at parties, and Harper and I use this space for rolling out dough and baking," she says.
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Dining Room Details
After seeing a room with white paneling and an almost-black ceiling on Pinterest, Tiffani was inspired to paint hers midnight blue. The stained-glass window, woodwork and doors all date back to the 1920s.
For the furnishings, Tiffani worked with her friend Christiane Lemieux of Lemieux et Cie, who also helped with Holt's nursery. The chairs and midcentury light fixture are from AllModern.com and provide a nice contrast to the historic details.
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Family Room Details
Comfy chic rules in the living room, thanks to a pair of custom-made plush sofas and cozy wool rugs. A citron ottoman and set of mustard pillows spice up the otherwise subdued color scheme. Brady painted the abstract canvas above the home's original brick fireplace.
Tiffani had family movie nights in mind when she selected furnishings for this space. "The gray sofas stand up to kid spills and are as deep as queen beds, so all the cousins can pack in there and eat popcorn," she says. The remote-controlled projector screen blends in with the white walls, and all the blackout shades lower for optimal darkness.
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Farm to Table
Tiffani lives on about an acre, so there's plenty of room for a veggie garden, citrus trees and dining alfresco. "We're always grilling outside and it's California, so we live in flip-flops," says Tiffani. She grew up with chickens at her childhood home, so the family keeps the tradition going with their very own backyard coop.
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From Tiffani's Kitchen
Tiffani's Orzo Salad with Corn, Arugula and Cherry Tomatoes
Makes: 4 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 23 minutes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 box (16 oz) orzo
4 ears fresh corn
2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 cup shaved Parmesan
4 to 5 cups baby arugula
Lemon zest, for garnish
1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and onion. Cook until onion is translucent and soft, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
2. Cook orzo according to package directions, about 10 minutes.
3. Grill or boil corn 5 minutes. Remove kernels from cobs.
4. Combine orzo, corn, cherry tomatoes and Parmesan. Just before serving, gently fold in arugula. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with lemon zest.
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Web Extra: From Tiffani's Kitchen
Grilled Ciabatta with Ricotta and Snap Peas
Recipe courtesy of Tiffani Thiessen
Makes: 4 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Grill: 4 minutes
Cook: 3 minutes
1 loaf ciabatta, sliced 1/2 inch thick diagonally
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 1/2 cups fresh ricotta
2 tbsp chopped chives
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
16 oz sugar snap peas, whole
1/3 cup fresh basil
1/3 cup fresh mint
2 tbsp lemon juice
Sea salt flakes (such as Maldon), for serving
1. Preheat a grill to medium-high. Brush ciabatta slices with a little olive oil. Grill until toasted and grill marks form on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.
2. In a small bowl combine ricotta, 2 tbsp olive oil, the chives, kosher salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. In a large pot of salted boiling water, add snap peas and cook 3 minutes. Immediately plunge peas into a bowl of ice water until cold. Remove and pat dry. Cut half the peas lengthwise and keep the other half whole. Combine all peas, basil and mint. Add 3 tbsp olive oil and the lemon juice and toss to coat.
4. Place grilled ciabatta slices on a serving dish. Top each with a dollop of ricotta, followed by snap pea salad. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes before serving.