ISSUE 12  |  Spring Forward

Rehab Diary: Amanda Pays and Corbin Bernsen Air Their Dirty Laundry

March 27, 2014 9:00 AM

BY Margot Guralnick

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What to do when you have four sons and an eternal mountain of clothes in need of washing? If you’re actress-turned-designer Amanda Pays, you remember the laundry rooms of your childhood in England and set your sights on creating your own. Conveniently, Amanda is married to actor and in-house handyman (and fellow flea market shopper) Corbin Bernsen. While the two were remodeling the family’s untouched 1940s house in Studio City, Los Angeles, Amanda claimed the maid’s room off the kitchen as the setting for her updated Downton Abbey laundry. She and Corbin worked out the design together—”he’s great at space planning, I take care of all the details.” The laundry room is now fully finished with ventilated wood shelves, a flagstone floor, deep sink, and the ultimate battery and lightbulb drawer (Corbin himself contributed that last detail). 

Photographs by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.

Laundry Room Overview

Above: A Sheila Maid, an ingenious British drying rack on a pulley, hangs in the center of the room surrounded by a wall of custom cabinets and shelving. Note the slatted wood used on the base of the shelves, ideal for creating a flow of air around just-dried linens.

Above: “I love using outdoor materials inside,” says Amanda of her Pennsylvania blue flagstone floor—a good choice for the family’s whippet, Digby, who often sleeps in the room on a dog bed. (The flagstones came from Prime Building Materials of North Hollywood and are used in the bathrooms, too—Amanda is a firm believer in repeating materials throughout the house, both for unity and economy.) 

Above: Amanda and Corbin are Rosebowl Flea Market regulars and much prefer to buy vintage than brand new: as Amanda says, “While I’m not opposed to store-bought, I try in my version of green living to restore and reuse whenever possible.” Their old wall-mounted sink is a refinished model from Square Deal Plumbing Supplies near Downtown LA. The dog painting—another remembered element from British laundry rooms past?—came from the Rose Bowl. The old-fashioned metal trash can holds dog food.

Above: The wooden countertop is used as a folding station.

Laundry Room Details

Above: Amanda buys appliances at Sears, where she strikes “crazy deals” by acquiring pieces for several rooms (and sometimes several clients) at once. The top-load washing machine and front-load dryer are Kenmore Elite models. The room doubles as a storage and supply closet—the wall-mounted shelves are built from old scaffolding planks that the couple purchased from their contractor, and are one of Amanda’s signatures. The steel cart is a Rose Bowl buy.

Above: The beauty of the Sheila Maid is that it can be raised sky high, enabling wet clothes to dry in the warm air, and then lowered for accessibility. (We like the design so much, we featured it in the Remodelista 100 in the Remodelista book.) Sheila Maids are sold in this country by our friend Megan Wilson at Ancient Industries for $135

Above: The Sheila Maid cord is held in place by an iron cleat on the wall.

Above: Toilet paper and mineral water are artfully stacked on the open shelves. The walls and cabinets are painted in Sydney Harbour Paint Company’s Plaster of Paris.

Above: Corbin inserted a wooden utensil divider into one of the laundry drawers to create a beautifully organized stash of extra batteries and bulbs. The metal drawer and cabinet pulls came from a swap meet—a bag of 50 for $25—and were also put to use in the kitchen. 

Above: From Labour & Wait in London, an oak Roller Towel Holder (£28) and Roller Towel (£28 for two) hang above the sink. The chrome gooseneck faucet came from Koontz Hardware of West Hollywood—”in stock, which is how I buy,” says Amanda. 

Above: In addition to the Sheila Maid, a clothesline hangs in the yard. 

Above: Digby’s dog door is situated next to the back door, alongside a claw-footed flea market stool.

See Amanda Pays and Corbin Bernsen’s California king-size kitchen, right next door to the laundry, on pages 226-231 of the Remodelista book. And have a look at the shed that they turned into a Backyard Bunkhouse. Interested in hiring Amanda to work some miracles in your own house? Go to Amanda Pays Design.