When actress-author Mimi Kennedy found her house in LA’s San Fernando Valley in 1992, it was love at first sight. But it took some convincing to get her to go see it in the first place!
“A real estate agent said she found a home with ‘charm, charm, charm!’ I thought, ‘Yuck, I hate the way you’re talking about it already.’” Mimi, 68, says with a laugh. The real estate agent pleaded with her to take a look. “As soon as I saw the huge maple tree, like one I grew up with, in the front yard, I said, ‘This is going to be my house,’” she recalls. “By the time I walked into the fifth bedroom, I started to hyperventilate!”
Mimi finds it “impossible” to categorize the five-bedroom, five bath house she shares with her husband of 39 years, Larry Dilg, 69 a retired teacher. “It’s described as a Cape Cod cottage, but it was originally a valley reach home that was turned into a French farmhouse, with a very Scottish interior,” she says. “I changed the plaid wallpaper as soon as I moved in.”
Mother Nature soon had other changes in store. “We move in just in time for the ’94 Northridge earthquake!” she says. “There was a lot of replastering, and the chimney in the living room came down, but I have two friends who are marvelous craftsmen. they took it out brick by brick.”
Other improvements were inspired by Mimi’s work. “The whole kitchen is based on my [1991 to 1993] series Homefront,” she says, “Which is set in 1945,” one year before the house was built. “I changed ours to match the one on the show. It’s not really practical for the way we live now, but at the moment I can’t bear to think about changing it again.”
Mimi added to her eclectic skill set of acting, playwriting and activism by decorating the entire place herself. “This is all me!” she says. The decor includes heirlooms like the dining room table that once belonged to her Irish immigrant great-grandmother. “If that table could talk!” she marvels. “It’s my childhood- I had birthday parties at that table.”
There’s also her Dad’s chair in the library and her Mom’s plush green chair by her bedroom window, which creates what she calls her “sanctuary writing space/refuge corner.” and she’s continuing the tradition of honoring childhood by keeping the rooms of her adult son, Cisco, and daughter, Molly, just as there were, as “nice reminders that they’re welcome to use them if they need to stay over.”
Thought Mimi admits to an “emptiness” now that her kids have left the nest, she’s found other ways to fill the 3,891-square-foot home. “My grandkids are here a lot, and since my daughter is a bluegrass fan, a lot of bands stay with us,” she says. “I’ve had 21 people. You could say we’ve been a commune for a day!”
The home might end up bringing everyone together again. “We may even downsize, take over our pool house and have the kids move back in- who knows?” she says with a smile.
“Im pretty happy with everything here.”
-Reporting by Steve Gidlow