Category Archives: Press

People | Oct 8, 2010

Marisol Nichols’ Daughter Rain Turns Two!

Michael Doven
Michael Doven

Happy second birthday Rain India Lexton!

As promised in her final blog, Marisol Nichols has sent along photos from her daughter’s birthday party, held last weekend in Los Angeles.

Celebrating in fairy-princess style with her parents, The Gates star Nichols and Taron Lexton, as well as Fisher-Price, the party was planned by Marisol’s dear friend, designer Melinda Brownstone.

Click below for more photos and details.

Michael Doven
Michael Doven

Set in the family’s backyard, the kids munched on organic baby veggies with homemade green-goddess dip and devoured fresh fruit skewers while their parents enjoyed an array of fresh crêpes.

Before diving into the fairy-princess cake, family and friends serenaded Rain in a rousing rendition of  “Happy Birthday”.

Michael Doven
Michael Doven

When it came time to open presents, Fisher-Price surprised Rain with her very own pink Barbie Cadillac Escalade.

One of the many highlights of the day was the balloon man who fashioned custom balloons of all shapes and sizes – everything from Elmo to Tinkerbell – for each of the little partygoers.

The best part for Marisol? A keepsake for Rain to remember all the fun she had with her friends: a framed canvas with tracings of each attendees’ handprints, along with their names and photos.

Michael Doven
Michael Doven

People | Sep 30, 2010

Marisol Nichols’ Blog: Party Planning and Preparing!


Happy birthday Rain! - Courtesy Marisol Nichols

We hope you’ve enjoyed Marisol Nichols‘ blogs this past month!

She’s back in Los Angeles after a spring and summer based in Shreveport, Louisiana as she filmed her latest project, ABC’s The Gates.

Although filming has wrapped, the actress is still working hard — preparing a party for daughter Rain India, who turns 2 today!

In her final blog, Nichols discusses choosing a fairy theme for the birthday bash — and how things have taken off since working with a party planning pal.

Hi mamas! My beautiful daughter Rain turns 2 today — I can’t believe it. Time really does fly!

As all you moms know, the second you have a kid it’s all about them. As soon as I became a mom, my birthday stopped having any meaning whatsoever. Now it’s all about her, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

My family is flying into town to help us celebrate so I really want to make this a special day for her and super fun. Being preschool-age she has lots of friends so we’re going for a big celebration.

I was just going to have a ‘party’ (cake, balloons and some streamers) until my friends were asking what the theme was. Who knew birthday parties had themes?! Themes, really? Okay, themes — here we go! Sesame Street? Fairies? Princesses? Elmo? How do you pick? Fortunately, Rain has this fairy mural above her bed which she loves, so voilà, fairy theme, here we come!

I feel like I’ve taken Rain to enough kids’ birthday parties to recognize what the kids enjoy most at each of them. So I decided to do my own version, gathering all the greatest things about all the parties and bringing them together.

Incredibly lucky for me, one of my dearest friends, Melinda, who has a little boy slightly older than Rain, also conveniently happens to be a party planner. I confess, I kinda called her immediately for some advice. When I told her my idea, she opened the floodgates. I guess in her mind the idea of putting a bunch of balloons out was not gonna fly. So she’s taken over and now we’re working on it together. Yay! Two heads are so much better than one, especially when one happens to do party planning for a living.

So I’ve embraced the theme. The colors are going to be pink, green and yellow, like Tinker Bell, her favorite fairy.

She had the idea to decorate the house as if you were entering a fairy palace. So we’re hanging tulle (the stuff tutus are made out of) and using pink and green fabric for a tablecloth.

Then, I went to a local craft store and found fairy wings, little wands, ribbons, sparkles, glitter, tiaras (all conveniently on sale in time for Halloween – thank you).

I got Rain a Fisher-Price Little People Dance ‘n Twirl Palace, which totally goes with the theme. We’ll open it at the party and everyone can play with it.

I’m still tackling the food but we know for sure we’re going to do fun, kid-friendly fruits and veggies. And the cake! It’s white cake with raspberry filling. I also insisted on a sugar-free option because Rain doesn’t usually eat sugar and I wanted to give moms that option.

Oh! And the part I’m most excited about! Melinda came up with a great idea as a keepsake for Rain. What we’re going to do is take a large canvas so that we can trace each of the kid’s hands with non-toxic markers, write their names and paste their photos next to each. It will be an activity for the kids to do and when it’s all done Rain will have it in a really sweet picture frame to hang in her room. How cute is that?!

I’ll send in some photos after the party for PEOPLE Moms & Babies to post, so that you can all see the final result!

This will be my last blog. Thanks for sharing my first-ever blogging journey with me — it has been an exciting ride! I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. Thanks for reading! Feel free to follow me on Twitter and keep up with me on Facebook.

To all you wonderful moms out there, I love you so much! Moms rock!

–- Marisol Nichols

People | May 21, 2010

Michelle Stafford Gives Us a Sneak Peek at Natalia’s Nursery!

John Paschal
John Paschal

Before Young and the Restless star Michelle Stafford welcomed 5-month-old daughter Natalia Scout Lee into her Los Angeles home last December, she knew she wanted to give her the nursery of her dreams.

“I wanted the room to have a magical, fairy tale feel — complete with princesses and fairies,” revealed the actress.

So Stafford, 44, turned to her mother, artist Paulette Lee to bring it all to reality — and grandma more than delivered.

From the organic bedding to the vintage couch, we’ve got all the details on Natalia’s whimsical nursery.

John Paschal
John Paschal

The Crib

As soon as Michelle saw the Villa Bella Beloved crib by Karla Claus, she knew it was perfect for the room. “It’s a piece of art. And, she actually sleeps in it!” But the pièce de résistance is the beautiful crown backdrop created by Melinda Brownstone of Brownstone Designs. “We really wanted something to make the crib pop,” says Michelle.

The Paintings

Michelle knew she didn’t want a mural on the walls. “I didn’t want my daughter to paint over it later — that would kill me. I would be saying ‘No, no, that’s your grandmother’s!’” Instead, Paulette painted pictures of fairy princesses and adorned their frames with flowering vines and butterflies. This way, Natalia would have the option to update the art once she gets older.

John Paschal
John Paschal

The Fairy

To stay with the magical theme, Paulette recruited Jeanie Shackelford of Jeanie Shackelford Designs to create a fairy perched on the swing in the tree.

The Rocking Horse

It was the very first baby item Michelle purchased. She won it at a silent auction during a charity event four years ago and kept it in the closet as a wish for the future.

The Changing Table

Because of surgery on her back as a result of IVF treatments, Michelle wanted a tall changing table to accommodate her 5’8″ frame. “Picking up a baby from a low changing table and putting her in a crib wouldn’t be great for my back,” says the actress. She also wanted a wider surface for more storage space. To get the right fit, Michelle commissioned David Ayala for her custom-made piece.

John Paschal

The Stuffed Animals

From an oversize pink teddy bear to a mini lamb, Natalia’s more than covered in the plush toy department. “They’re all from my show mates and other very close friends,” shares Michelle.

John Paschal
John Paschal

The Sofa

The actress bought the vintage 1930′s piece at an antique store in Houston. “I thought it was such a great deal until I had to have it driven to LA from Houston, and then have it re-upholstered.” To give it a more personal touch, Michelle added a “Natalia” pillow that was a gift from her costar Joshua Morrow and his wife Tobe.

On Going Green

“I try to be as eco-friendly as I can,” confesses the actress. “Almost everything Natalia eats is organic.” Michelle’s green philosophy extends to the nursery too. All of the baskets on the changing table shelves are made of recycled newspaper. And the beautiful Martinek Bebe mattress and bedding are 100 percent organic.

Denver Post | Sep 20, 2007

Have a cow! “Simpsons” voice loves her country

For Cartwright, girly themes rule L.A. home
By David A. Keeps, Los Angeles Times
Posted: 09/20/2007 01:00:00 AM MDT

A fiberglass cow is a natural at Nancy Cartwright's Connecticut-style farmhouse. (Los Angeles Times / Anne Cusack)
A fiberglass cow is a natural at Nancy Cartwright's Connecticut-style farmhouse. (Los Angeles Times / Anne Cusack)

Los Angeles – Roses. Chandeliers. Whimsy. Country.

This isn’t a decorating mantra that Bart Simpson would chant. Well, not without his trademark smirk. But for Nancy Cartwright, the Emmy Award-winning voice actress who puts the sarcasm into the cartoon rascal’s mouth, those four girly-girl design elements are not open for discussion.

“These are my themes,” the pink-clad mom declares.

At here home in the San Fernando Valley, roses are freshly clipped blooms from her garden, set in a vase in the wildly wallpapered dining room. “Chandeliers,” she announces, standing underneath a gilt and jade-colored glass confection in the kitchen. Cartwright points out a figurine of Tinker Bell suspended on a beaded swag strung between the arms.”Whimsy,” she says.

The "tree" in Cartwright's kitchen actually is a bark-clad steel beam. Next to the range? A Bart Simpson cookie jar. (Los Angeles Times / Anne Cusack)

As for country? That river runs deep, from the whitewashed scalloped trim and shuttered windows outside the 1947 Connecticut-style farmhouse to the beamed ceilings inside. A gambrel-roofed red barn serves as her garage. On the front lawn, Cartwright has placed an appropriate sentinel: a life-size fiberglass cow she named Milk Dud.

The 1-acre spread also contains the property’s original pine-paneled guest apartment, now done up with Western cabin furnishings found at flea markets, as well as cottages housing a studio and offices for managing Cartwright’s speaking engagements, charitable activities, books on tape recordings and bulging roster of animation voice gigs.

In addition to portraying Bart and four other “Simpsons” scamps, Cartwright does voices for “The Replacements” and “Betsy’s Kindergarten Adventures,” produces a Web-based cartoon, “The Kellys,” and frequently is called upon to play yet one more role: hostess. At home, she presides over civic functions as honorary mayor of Northridge, holds get-togethers for the Church of Scientology and her own philanthropic group called Happy House.

Bart Simpson voice Nancy Cartwright loves roses, chandeliers and whimsy for her decorating themes. (Los Angeles Times / Anne Cusack)

great neighbors, but you go a quarter of a mile down the road, and there’s one of the highest concentrations of gangs in L.A. County,” she says. “I’m not scared living here, but it’s a little bit of an island in the middle of insanity.” Recently she and children Lucy, 17, and Jack, 15, jumped in a golf cart and delivered more than 600 invitations for a neighborhood “mingle,” she says.”I wanted them to know that I am accessible and to get them to volunteer at the youth center.” Hosting large groups required a re-evaluation of the house that began in 2002, around the time when Cartwright and her husband, Warren Murphy, divorced. Three years later, with her ideas fully formed, the actress sought out interior designer and landscape artist Melinda Brownstone to renovate the house for her role as a single mom and event planner.

“She probably had 50 magazines dog-eared and marked with Post-it notes,” Brownstone says. “For the most part, it was her own creative concept.”

LA Times | Sep 13, 2007

Archive for Thursday, September 13, 2007

Country charm? Ay caramba!

Bart Simpson might not approve, but Nancy Cartwright, the voice of the cartoon brat, knows what she likes.

By David A. Keeps
September 13, 2007 in print edition F-1

ROSES. Chandeliers. Whimsy. Country. This is not a decorating mantra that Bart Simpson would chant. Well, not without his trademark smirk. But for Nancy Cartwright, the Emmy Award-winning voice actress who puts the sarcasm into the cartoon rascal’s mouth, those four girly-girl design elements are not open for discussion.

“These are my themes,” the diminutive pink-clad mom declares.

On a recent visit to her Northridge home, the roses are freshly clipped blooms from her garden, set in a vase in the wildly wallpapered dining room. “Chandeliers,” she announces, standing underneath a gilt and jade-colored glass confection in the kitchen. Cartwright points out a tiny figurine of Tinker Bell suspended on a beaded swag strung between the arms. “Whimsy,” she says.

As for country? That river runs deep, from the whitewashed scalloped trim and shuttered windows outside the 1947 Connecticut-style farmhouse to the beamed ceilings inside. A gambrel-roofed red barn serves as her garage. On the front lawn, Cartwright has placed an appropriate sentinel: a life-size fiberglass cow she named Milk Dud.

The 1-acre spread also contains the property’s original pine-paneled guest apartment, now done up with Western cabin furnishings found at flea markets, as well as cottages housing a studio and offices for managing Cartwright’s speaking engagements, charitable activities, books on tape recordings and bulging roster of animation voice gigs.

IN addition to portraying Bart and four other “Simpsons” scamps, Cartwright does voices for “The Replacements” and “Betsy’s Kindergarten Adventures,” produces a Web-based cartoon called “The Kellys” and frequently is called upon to play yet one more role: hostess. At home, she presides over civic functions as the honorary mayor of Northridge, holds get-togethers for the Church of Scientology and her own philanthropic group called Happy House, and throws fundraisers for a proposed youth recreation center nearby.

“I live in a very nice home with great neighbors, but you go a quarter of a mile down the road and there’s one of the highest concentrations of gangs in L.A. County,” she says. “I’m not scared living here, but it’s a little bit of an island in the middle of insanity.”

Recently she and children Lucy, 17, and Jack, 15, jumped in a golf cart and delivered more than 600 invitations for a neighborhood “mingle,” she says.

“I wanted them to know that I am accessible and to get them to volunteer at the youth center.”

Hosting large groups required a re-evaluation of the house that began in 2002, around the time when Cartwright and her husband, Warren Murphy, divorced. Three years later, with her ideas fully formed, the actress sought out interior designer and landscape artist Melinda Brownstone to renovate the house for her role as a single mom and event planner.

“She probably had 50 magazines dog-eared and marked with Post-it notes,” Brownstone says. “For the most part, it was her own creative concept.”

The designer quickly nicknamed her new client Nancy Fancy Pants.

“She’s feminine and likes to surround herself with fun and inspiring things,” Brownstone says. “When you have a personality that big, you have to embrace it.”

At the front of the house, they built a spacious sun room with French doors crowned by a half-moon window. Filled with bookcases, a folk-art game table and pink- and green-plaid chairs, the addition spills into the formal living room, which has several seating areas.

“We’ve crammed 70 people in the living room,” Cartwright says proudly. “And although there’s a TV, it’s hidden. I did not want that to be the focal point.”

That honor goes to the enormous stone fireplace and the antlered creature above it, a Semi-Normal Green-Lidded Fawn designed by Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss.

Guests pass a bar built underneath a staircase to reach the grand kitchen, which was blown open to accommodate a computer station and laundry area. Doors lead out to a covered dining area and a series of outdoor spaces created for entertaining.

The most drastic change was the reconfiguration of the landscape. An unused tennis court was dismantled and the original pool filled in, allowing for a lawn with Adirondack chairs and additional parking. A new lagoon-style swimming hole was placed at the back edge of the lot, adjacent to an outdoor living room centered on a fireplace made from Arizona flagstone. All-weather wicker chairs in English hunting green and Old World-style outdoor carpets give the spaces an old-time down-homeyness.

If the ground floor was designed for guests, the romantic second-floor suite is decidedly Cartwright’s haven. Though she admits to splurges, such as a hand-painted secretary that she says cost in the $10,000 range, Cartwright also hunted for bargains at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. The floor plan was redesigned to give the actress an elaborate walk-in dressing room to accommodate her vintage clothing and furniture.

“It’s like a Barbie-doll closet with all her outfits,” daughter Lucy says.

Brownstone designed a master bath with sitting room that, Cartwright jokes, “is bigger than some New York apartments.”

“I spoiled myself with it, but it’s every girl’s dream to have a big tub with a chandelier above it.”

And not just any dangling, spangling array of crystals will do.

“A chandelier isn’t just something that distributes light,” she says. “It has to have its own personality.”

Cartwright’s taste is evident all over the property. Guests who smoke will find a gazebo straight out of “The Music Man,” painted in vivid teal, and the walls of her recording studio are padded with soft Mercurochrome-pink fabric.

It is in the main house, however, where Cartwright turned her rosy, whimsical, chandelier-lighted take on country living into a resoundingly personal statement. The living room didn’t have particularly high ceilings, yet Cartwright wanted to incorporate a huge original poster for the Fellini film “La Strada,” as well as an ornate upright piano and a massive coffee table made from a door that, she jokes, “probably came from a dungeon.”

FINDING a balance between large pieces of furniture, bold patterns and vibrant colors without creating claustrophobia required a complementary sense of scale and a lot of custom-sized sofas, chairs and bookcases, Brownstone says. Wherever possible, the designer used white and black pieces to provide visual structure in the boldly colored rooms. In the kitchen, that meant a black soapstone counter top with a rich vein of green that coordinated with a 1940s Wedgewood stove.

The result is a home that can adapt as easily as Cartwright can slip between cartoon voices, meeting the needs of a large gang of adults or just two kids, two dogs (Lydia and Buddy) and three cats (Emma, Cheerio and Pip Pip). It achieves a sense of comfort without skimping on adult luxuries – or childhood fantasies.

“It is a fun house, not a funhouse,” Brownstone says. “It’s casual, but everything is stepped up to a custom level.”

The overstuffed furniture in floral prints with ruffles and fringe, as well as the embroidered polka dots on the coral curtains, may look like a page out of Martha Stewart’s handbook, but the fabrics are sumptuous silks, not country chintz. The floors are covered in antique Persian and Aubusson carpets.

Cartwright gave her kids free rein to create their own spaces. Jack chose army green and camouflage sheets; Lucy went for pink with simple colonial furniture and a wall of neatly arranged fashion magazine tear sheets. A high ledge that once displayed Beanie Babies is now an abstract clutter of empty wooden picture frames.

“I stole it from a magazine,” Cartwright says of that idea, with a raspy giggle not unlike Bart Simpson’s.

When the upstairs expansion required a steel support girder through her kitchen counter, Cartwright happily sheathed the beam in pine bark and turned it into a tree, lending the enchantment of a storybook forest.

“When you walk in the door, it looks like something out of a fairy tale,” says friend Lorraine New. “Everywhere you turn, there’s some interesting detail, like her sea-horse aquarium in the kitchen, and a multitude of colors.”

Like, perhaps, the bold coral pink throughout the living room?

“It’s just a hot Nancy Cartwright color,” New says.

Cartwright has a history with shocking shades.

“My last house in Glassell Park was totally outrageous,” she says. “It was a ’60s hillside stucco with 65 steps from the street to the front door, and we painted it Bart Simpson yellow.”

By the time Jack had turned 5, Cartwright craved a neighborhood with sidewalks where the kids could ride their bikes. The search led to the Northridge farmhouse, set on what had been 20 acres of alfalfa and eucalyptus before the property was subdivided with conventional suburban homes. The history of the place was intriguing – it had been owned by singer Maxine Andrews of the Andrews Sisters as well as an unrelated Cartwright family – but the property had a more resonant quality.

“It communicated solid Midwestern stability,” says Cartwright, the fourth of six kids all born in Kettering, Ohio. So in 1996 Cartwright, then-husband Murphy and her two kids moved to Northridge. “I gave up the view for the land,” she says, “and I’ve never regretted it.”

By then, her career was solidly established. As a cartoon-loving teenager working at a radio station, Cartwright struck up a correspondence with Daws Butler, the voice of Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound. In 1978 she transferred to the theater department at UCLA and under Butler’s tutelage soon found work. In 1987 she auditioned for the role of Lisa Simpson but was far more intrigued by her older brother, Bart. Cartwright’s résumé grew to include other classic characters, including Chuckie Finster of “The Rugrats.”

THE suburban life – taking her daughter to dance class and her son to soccer games – agreed with Cartwright, and her vast property made it easy to build state-of-the-art facilities for her two production companies on site. Although she is proud of this small industrial complex, it is clear that Cartwright’s heart belongs to her house and the flashes of creativity inside.

“To me it seems normal, because I’ve always been around those kind of things,” son Jack says about the tree growing out of the kitchen counter. “But if you could live in one of your dreams, this is the exact house you would own.”

And it would have a garage with a second-story playroom, like the one that serves as a gallery for Cartwright’s collection of autographed animation cells. Her kids’ musical instruments look primed for an impromptu jam session. There’s a vintage jukebox, an orange-felt-covered pool table.

“I call it the monkey room,” Cartwright says, opening curtains printed with simians dressed in Edwardian finery.

Cartwright stops for a moment to look through the window, toward the main house and the garden filled with flowers. A sign on the white picket fence makes her chuckle. It’s a sweet heads-up to her guests and a reminder of her own good fortune. The hand-painted black lettering simply reads: “No whining.”

david.keeps@latimes.com