A Life Well-Lived: Theadora Van Runkle’s Enchanted Laurel Canyon Sanctuary

By Philip Ferrato

Theadora Van Runkle, the late costume designer and creator some of film’s most evocative looks, looked on her exquisite, whitewashed Laurel Canyon compound as an evolving work of art. She lived here from the late 1960s until her death in 2011, and over the decades created this eclectic sanctuary long before anyone came up with the term “shabby chic.”

Nominated for an Oscar for Bonnie and Clyde, her first film, Van Runkle’s look for Faye Dunaway’s Bonnie (beret, sweater, long skirt) immediately became a fashion trend upon the film’s release in 1967 and she contributed to dozens of now-classic films including Bullitt and The Thomas Crown Affair, Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather II, and Peggy Sue Got Married, plus Martin Scorcese’s New York, New York. The 2-bed, 3-bath compound also includes a 2-level studio created out of an immense wine barrel (below, hung with some of her watercolors) plus a more austere guest cottage. The master bedroom, with a lot of reading material at easy reach, and bath. Two views of the main kitchen. There’s another one in the guest house. More: To get a sense of her extraordinary design career, Theadora Van Runkle’s New York Times obituary is a good read. Have a look at the the listing for more details and information (the home is available for viewing through the listing agent only to pre-qualified clients). As to the burning question of “but what happens to all this beautifully chosen stuff?” some of the contents will be available under a separate agreement with the purchaser.

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