Take a tour of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition interior designer Tanya McQueen’s Encino home.

And learn how she made the spec home her own.

  • Category
  • Written by
    Susan Spillman
  • Photographed by
    Shane O’Donnell

For a decade TV designer Tanya McQueen spent nearly as much time on a United Airlines flight as she did at either of her two homes. Two weeks a month she lived in Los Feliz with her TV-producer husband, Tom Forman, and two stepchildren. The other two weeks, she jetted to Houston, where she resided with her two sons from a previous marriage.

For years Tanya worked as a house flipper while living in Texas. That all changed when she and one of her renovations were featured on a TLC show in 2005. Tanya was spotted by ABC execs, who ultimately invited her to join the third season of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition as one of the show’s interior designers. She stayed for seven seasons. “It was a pretty wild ride and so much fun!” she recalls. While working on Extreme Makeover she met and married Tom, who was executive producer, and the duo set about blending their families.

“We both had the same every other week custody arrangement,” explains Tanya. “Everyone gets along. We’re a 2018-style family.”

Still, last year when Tanya’s youngest son graduated high school and enrolled at USC, they decided to simplify their lives. They sold both houses and started shopping for a new nest large enough for when their four kids—ranging from 23 to 13—all got together.

The family room is filled with a combination of items that the couple already owned, “but it is my favorite room in the house,” shares Tom. The clock (which works) was bought during a trip to England.

“What we’ve done is just throw as much of our personalities into the décor as possible.”

Tanya spruced up the black and white kitchen with a runner bought in Morocco and a bright green painting purchased in Italy.

Both Tanya and Tom were set on moving to Hancock Park but couldn’t seem to find the right house. On a lark one day, at the suggestion of friend, they decided to check out the exclusive Royal Oaks neighborhood in Encino.

“It may as well have been another state,” laughs Tanya. “I don’t think I’d ever been this far into the Valley.”

“The reason why I had to have this house was the backyard.”

As luck would have it, they spotted an open house for a brand new Cape Cod-style, cedar-shingled, spec home. The nearly 7,000-square-foot, gated main house, set off by crisp white trim and black shutters, would be hard for anyone to resist. Originally built in 1951, a first-time flipper spent 18 months updating every square foot inside and out, sparing no expense.

The dining room centerpiece, a ping pong table from England, another one of Tanya’s “eclectic pops.”

With six bedrooms and eight baths, it boasts French oak floors, an enormous kitchen with two center islands, a screening room, game room, two-story 1,200-square- foot guesthouse with a sauna, as well as five indoor and two outdoor fireplaces.

“The reason why I had to have this house was the backyard,” says Tanya.

The lot, just over three-quarters of an acre, includes a three-level terraced backyard that is private and lush. Expansive glass doors at the rear open to a covered patio, outdoor family room, kitchen and seating area with a fire pit. Above that are the 1,200-square-foot guesthouse, Jacuzzi and pool. From there wood stairs ascend to a park-like landscape of mature fruit trees and a stunning mountain view.

While most people would be thrilled to move into such a stellar, turnkey property, for Tanya, it was actually a bit disappointing.

“I never bought a house that didn’t have to be gutted to the studs,” the petite brunette says, admitting, “I wish there was more to tear up.”

Not that she didn’t take the bull by the horns. Tanya repainted or wallpapered every interior wall (they were all white) noting, “I prefer a more earthy color palette.” She also swapped out every one of the Restoration Hardware light fixtures.

“I hate homogenized stuff,” she says. “I don’t buy anything from franchises.”

She does, however, buy from just about anywhere else. “My home is every place I’ve ever been,” she explains. Hand-woven wool rugs were procured on a trip to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, a concrete garden gnome was unearthed at a Texas yard sale, and a unique coffee table made of driftwood came compliments of the boutique design house Bobo Intriguing Objects.

Finding the life-size wrought iron sheep on the front yard took some digging. Tanya spotted a flock in the yard of a house on Nantucket, where they vacation every summer, and was determined to find some. Not only did she hunt down a pair on the website Chairish, the seller happened to live in Sherman Oaks. “I got ‘em for a fraction of the prices as the ones I saw on Nantucket,” she says smiling.

“What we’ve done is just throw as much of our personalities into the décor as possible.” And despite the space looking impeccably complete, Tanya admits she isn’t finished making it her own.

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