Inside Viola Davis and Julius Tennon’s Nurturing Los Angeles Refuge

Cadiz, who grew up in Hollywood and worked for years as a set decorator before moving into residential design, clearly understood the assignment. “Viola and Julius have such vibrant personalities, but their house was very minimal—50 shades of gray,” the designer observes. “They asked for something not too fussy or pretentious, something comfortable, a place to relax and recoup their energy. But they also wanted something special, a feast for the eyes and the spirit. Finding the right mix was the key,” she continues.

Cadiz and her team obliged their high-profile clients with soothing, sophisticated interior ensembles where understated backgrounds are punctuated with vivid artworks and decorative accents, many in the form of graphic wallpapers: a metallic Matthew Williamson design with a dragonfly motif—symbolizing transformation and self-realization—on the ceiling of the primary dressing room; a coral-toned palm frond paper in a guest room; and, in the home gym, a dynamic hand-screened wall covering derived from Andy Warhol’s Polaroids of Muhammad Ali. “When you think about The Champ, you think about his courage and resilience, his contributions to the US and the world,” Tennon says of the, um, punchy pattern. Adds Davis, “Having him there, watching you, really keeps you on the treadmill.” (Based on the physicality of her extraordinary performance in The Woman King, the motivation has clearly paid off.)

A custom sectional covered in a Schumacher fabric is joined by a Palecek cocktail table and lounge chairs in the family room. Photograph (over fireplace) by David Ballam.

Despite their bustling careers and hectic schedules, when home Davis and Tennon enjoy spending time in the kitchen—centered on an expansive island beneath glass globe pendants—which is no mere showpiece. “Right now we’re preparing to have 50 people for Thanksgiving, and Viola and I are doing all the cooking. We’re not playing,” Tennon insists, before offering some sage advice on preparing a succulent smoked turkey. If the kitchen is the social heart of the home, the couple’s bedroom, bathed in shades of pale yellow and ivory, is its placid soul. In addition to employing plush appointments and muted colors, Cadiz enlarged the tub in the bath to accommodate the couple’s penchant for bathing together after long days on the set and in the spotlight. “We talk, we laugh hysterically, we reconnect,” Davis says of the indispensable amenity. “Our definition of home is a sanctuary, and this is definitely a sanctuary.”

The color palette in the primary suite kicks up a notch in the cozy sitting room off the bedroom, where pinks, golds, and hints of green animate the subdued backdrop. The furnishings include a pair of midcentury lounge chairs garnered at a Hancock Park estate sale. “It’s good to have furniture that tells stories, things with history,” Tennon avers, describing the vintage pieces and auction finds that pepper the house. Indeed, he’s something of an authority—aside from his extensive acting and producing credits, he spent nearly a decade working in a Santa Monica furniture showroom called Prince of Wales, which specialized in English antiques and reproductions.