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Adam Carolla, Interior Decorator – Wall Street Journal

In Blog Exposure, National Print, Online on December 27, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Adam Carolla, Interior Decorator
The comedian picked paint colors, restored frescoes—and stuck a sports car in his office


Photographer: Ethan Pines for The Wall Street Journal
Los Angeles

Comedian Adam Carolla co-hosted “The Man Show,” a Comedy Central program known for featuring buxom women jumping on trampolines. At home, Mr. Carolla’s cartoonishly masculine persona is readily on display.

The eight-car garage, housing part of his collection of historic race-cars, Lamborghinis and Datsuns, has its own sitting room and beer refrigerator. Parked in his office, where four flat-screen TVs are arranged stadium-style, is Mr. Carolla’s prized orange 1970 Lamborghini Miura. It sits atop a hydraulic lift so it can be moved down to the garage below.

Inside Adam Carolla’s Man Cave

The large man cave in Mr. Carolla’s basement.

Then there’s what Mr. Carolla, 46, refers to as his “ace in the hole”—his large man cave in the basement. There’s a jukebox, mounted deer head and a pool table. Playing cards depicting nude women and coasters are adhered to the ceiling, and there’s a red upholstered bar facing a series of portholes that look directly into the water of his swimming pool.

Jimmy Kimmel, the former “Man Show” co-host who now leads his eponymous late-night talk show, says he likes to tease Mr. Carolla that he would install heated floors in his garage to protect his cars—but not in the bedrooms of his 4-year-old twins.

“The truth is,” jokes Mr. Kimmel, “you can’t drive your kids.”

What may surprise people, says Mr. Kimmel, are Mr. Carolla’s self-described effeminate hobbies: interior design and 1920s architecture. “I’ve got a great eye for color,” said Mr. Carolla. “I’m like a chick.” (His recently released book of cultural observations and rants is titled “In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks.”)

James Bond-meets-Vegas details aside, the rest of Mr. Carolla’s 5,500-square-foot Spanish hacienda-style stucco was renovated in the style of its era. (The house has two bedrooms and five baths; several bedrooms were converted to TV rooms and offices.) There are stained-glass windows, dark wood beams on rounded, vaulted ceilings and details like hardwood floors that have been hand-painted in shades of brown and pale green and outlined in gold to give them an Art Deco feel.

The entryway is a dramatic two-story, tiled room with wrought-iron railings lining the balcony hallway above. The soft blue periwinkle-and-cream-colored décor of the home’s bedroom, like everything else about the house, was Mr. Carolla’s idea.

Shortly after getting married in 2003, Mr. Carolla and his wife bought the Hollywood Hills home for $1.6 million. Mr. Carolla said the place was a wreck with “god-awful veneer cabinets” and orange paint covering hand-carved details, but “I thought, ‘There’s some bones there.’ ”

Wife Lynette had her doubts. “It was a big dump,” she said.

Photographs by Ethan Pines for The Wall Street Journal

Detail from the entry ceiling.

Mr. Carolla, who worked as a contractor before he was a full-time comedian, spent two years painstakingly restoring the home, overseeing and pitching in with the construction, and doing the engineering and interior design himself. At some points, say his wife and friends, the project became an obsession, driving Mr. Carolla, and his wife, crazy. He spent a week dismantling and moving a 90-year-old antique fireplace from his previous house by hand, photographing and numbering the ceramic tiles after removing them with a diamond blade. It took another week to reinstall it in his current house.

To bring back details hidden beneath layers of paint, he used a heat gun on interior wood beams and plaster ceilings, revealing colored frescoes. He scoured eBay and vintage stores for period fixtures.

In the kitchen, an antique sink has been re-enameled. Mr. Carolla had the refrigerator, microwave and dishwasher coated in red automotive paint, then waxed, partly because he thought the heavy-duty finish would stand up to his family’s wear and tear, but also because the bright color made them “feel more of the era,” he said.

Known for his rants on topics like why classic cars should be considered artwork, Mr. Carolla gets heated when talking about the state of many historic homes in the Los Angeles area.

“It’s always the same thing, the homes get built in the ’20s, then they gut the kitchen at the worst possible time, which is 1977.”

Mr. Carolla’s one complaint about his own house is that his kids have somewhat taken over what he sees as his masterpiece. The fridge is covered with their artwork, a toy car sits in the garage, and he says they’ve done a number on some of the original dark wood floors.

Mr. Carolla said he doesn’t know how much he spent on the remodel, but that the cost was relatively low since he did so much himself. A nearby four-bedroom, five-bathroom house that was built in 1930 and recently remodeled is on the market for $4.6 million.

Growing up in Los Angeles, Mr. Carolla was the son of divorced parents who he says took little interest in keeping up their homes. In his recently released book, he says his bedroom as a kid was a converted service porch near a hot-water heater in his mother’s unkempt “dilapidated shack,” a source of embarrassment for him as a child.

“When I finally got enough money to buy my own tools,” said Mr. Carolla, “I overcompensated.”

Write to Candace Jackson at

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