Lulu Powers arrived in Los Angeles in the early ’90s with a suitcase and tennis racquet, planning to become a sitcom writer. She rented a two-bedroom Spanish bungalow near LACMA with a friend and started waitressing at the newly opened House of Blues—she knew cofounder Isaac Tiggret from her years in New York. Powers had grown up helping her mother, a caterer in Weston, Connecticut, in the kitchen and was comfortable with cooking. But serving? “That’s a whole other ball game entirely,” she says. “I was the worst F-ing waitress at the House of Blues, but I made more money than anyone because I’d sit down with people and talk to them.” To help pay the rent, she took on “little private chef jobs,” she says. “My mom, Patty P, is my inspiration. She made tablescapes for our family dinners. She always said, ‘Presentation, presentation, presentation.’ ”
Word spread about the outgoing and creative cook. Soon Powers was delivering meals to Sigourney Weaver, a stint that brought a mention in Vogue, which led to a job with photographer Herb Ritts and subsequent gigs with Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith, Madonna, and the White House—Bill Clinton loved her caramel-fudge brownies, the recipe for which can be found in Lulu Powers Food to Flowers, published in 2010. So much for sitcom writing.
After marrying in 2000, she and Stephen (Stevie) Danelian, a photographer and the creator of SpotKit, an app for sharing favorite places, bought the 1927 bungalow she’d been renting and set about transforming it. The popular caterer and event planner approaches home decor with the same confidence and whimsy that define her cooking. “Magical, eclectic, and Waspy,” is how interior designer Mary McDonald, a longtime friend, describes it. “What I like, I like,” says Powers, who chose rich shades of tangerine, blue, and brown for some walls, bold wallpaper for others. “I’m all about the layers. When I walk into someone’s house and there’s nothing personal, I don’t think I could live with that. I like a little touch of life.” Unfazed by labels or trends, she exercises a keen eye for potential: Persimmon velvet curtain panels from Ikea make excellent upholstery fabric, a pile of books can serve as an unexpected plinth for a statuette, and color is key. “Don’t be all bland,” cautions the “entertainologist,” as she’s coined herself. “Color makes you smile.”
“Paint is like a blank canvas; wallpaper is like a piece of art,” says Powers, who uses both to strong effect. Her top spot for the latter is Walnut Wallpaper in Mid City. » 323-932-9166.
Powers and Danelian use art and design books for inspiration and decor. Marc Jacobs’s Bookmarc on Melrose Place is one of their favorite locations to browse and buy. » 323-944-0575.
“If something has a story, there’s life to it,” says Powers of vintage pieces. For a diverse selection she heads to Inheritance in Beverly Grove. » 323-658-6756.