For House Beautiful’s 125th anniversary this year, we’re digging into some of our favorite spaces from our archive—including, so far, decorator Sister Parish’s New York Apartment and the West Hollywood home and studio of designer extraordinaire Tony Duquette, dubbed “the house of a magician.” Here, we revisit Liza Minnelli’s New York apartment from 1973, which was first published in our December issue that year.
At a young age, Liza Minnelli was well-positioned to become a star. She made her first film appearance as a toddler in the 1949 musical comedy In the Good Old Summertime, starring her mother Judy Garland. In 1972, she won widespread acclaim for her Oscar-winning performance in the musical film Cabaret. At the time, the singer was often out and about. But while she was busy with her career and social life, she treasured moments spent at home in her New York City apartment—where she could pretend to be a homebody.
In our latest archive dive, we take a look back inside Minnelli’s apartment circa 1973. Full of color from its yellow walls and punchy decor, it was designed by Richard Ohrbach as a place where “Liza could be lazy.” From the red lips sofa, a nod to her own lipstick preference, to endless pillows for at-home picnics right on the floor, the once-plain apartment was no less spirited than its tenant.
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A vibrant melange of color, art and greenery provides a perfect off-stage backdrop for its lively, talented occupant.
Editor Marjorie Hilton
Flowers all over. Palm trees and dracaenas freshly showered and white-lacquered floors polished to gleaming. These are sure signs that Liza’s home. And Liza Minnelli’s home it is, the one place in the world where she has put down roots. Here are the childhood keepsakes, the portraits of mother (Judy Garland) and father (Vincent Minnelli) and her own career mementos–a Tony, an Oscar and the cane she used in “Cabaret.” It began as a plain New York apartment, until Designer Richard Ohrbach made it into “this super sunny, delicious place where Liza could be lazy.” And that’s exactly the role it plays in her life. As she says, “I love to stretch out on the chaise by the window and reconstruct myself.”
The living room fairly zings with color from the yellow walls, the handmade Portuguese rug, paintings by Rex and Ohrbach and Plexiglass constructions by Michael Haynes. Bombay paisley tents the dining alcove where a piano with American Indian blanket serves alternately as a musical instrument and a table on which Liza may serve an impromptu spaghetti supper. The rainbow was created for Liza by Ohrbach “because of Judy.” The red lips sofa is Liza’s big smack welcome, with Joe Eula’s poster from “Liza with a Z” blown up and mounted on the wall. A few steps to the right and the living room comes into full view, sparkly, clean, neat—the perfect place to recuperate from jet-set lag and other stresses of being one of today’s Visible People. In Liza’s words, “I rush home whenever I can and indulge my fantasies of being a homebody.”
A white-lacquered cabinet with a statue of Fred Astaire serves as Liza’s bar. And everywhere, pillows. Sometimes Liza and her friends push aside the table, spread a cloth and picnic right on the floor. The baskets? “They’re where I stash my music and all my personal stuff—things I’ve forgotten, for now, but someday I’ll remember.”
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