My Favorite Room: Marilu Henner's kitchen is ground zero for family life

Marilu Henner knew the house she was about to buy needed to be gutted and redone when she first saw it nearly three decades ago.

Everything, that is, except the kitchen.

“We moved in on March 23, 1989,” said the actress, who has an unusually far-reaching memory: She can recollect the exact day of most events in her life. “It was a Thursday. We always knew this kitchen would be the base around which we could create our dream house.”

The 5,700-square-foot Hollywood Hills house, which was previously owned by actor Pierce Brosnan, has seen Henner through several life changes: The man she was with when she bought it became her husband; they had two sons together and then divorced. Shortly after, she reconnected with an old friend, Michael Brown; weeks after they began dating, he was diagnosed with bladder and then lung cancer.

It was in this kitchen, with its pine countertops, heaping bowls of berries and vases of fresh flowers, that Henner helped Brown modify his diet (the couple follow a plant-based regimen) as he underwent treatment for cancer; he is now in remission.

Recently, Henner worked with the Lung Cancer Alliance, with help from biotech firm Genentech, to develop a series of tips for people caring for someone with lung cancer.

What did you love about this room when you first saw it?

We pulled into the driveway, and the kitchen was pretty much the same as it is now. I have a huge family, and I’m always looking for sleeping surfaces. When I walked in here and saw there was a sleeping surface in the kitchen, I thought, ‘Oh, good. One more family member can have his own bed.’

It seems to be the heart of the house for you.

There’s something about it. It’s very different from the rest of the house. It’s not the decor, it’s the feel. It’s an open space with plenty of room for people to be able to cook together. Everything your eyes rest on means something.

Such as?

The cobalt-blue jars in the window. They were one of the first purchases I made when I got on “Taxi.” I’ve always loved Art Deco and that color. I’d bought an Art Deco mirror, and the jars went with that. I’ve taken them with me to every home I’ve been in. They’ve made it through three marriages.

Your antique kitchen table is beautiful.

This table has had so much life around it. The family gets together and we add more chairs or pull it over to the couch. There’s a connection to home and hearth and people I love, cooking and serving, clinking wine or sake glasses.

What are some of your favorite memories here?

On my first date with Michael, we spent 4½ hours eating and catching up, and the next 4½ hours making out on the couch in the kitchen.

Has anyone ever slept in here as you’d planned?

My son had a New Year’s Eve party once, and every surface, including the bathroom floor, was a sleeping surface. I heard there were five girls asleep in my bed.

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