Lena Dunham reveals she built her home in her parents’ backyard: ‘Just as I always wanted’
Lena Dunham has revealed an inside look at her home, which just so happens to be in her parents’ backyard.
The Girls creator, 36, shared intimate details about her Connecticut home in an essay for Architectural Digest’s December issue. In the essay, Dunham recalled how her family often moved apartments while growing up in New York City.
“When I was a little kid, I used to dread the idea of ever leaving my parents’ home. I hated leaving for the day to go to school, much less the idea of going to college or getting married,” she began.
Her parents, famed photographer Laurie Simmons and painter Carroll Dunham, didn’t find their “perfect place” until her mother stumbled upon a vacant building in northwest Connecticut that once stood as a boarding school, with a brick house and stucco barn on a slim plot of land.
“Through a series of too-good-to-be-true coincidences, it came into our family’s possession, and this compound has become the most lasting landmark of our family, an ode to our eccentricities and to our bonds, which are packed as tight as we were in that loft on lower Broadway,” Dunham wrote.
Much like her parents, Dunham also went through a series of moves from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back to Brooklyn. The Golden Globe winner explained how she wanted a sense of “permeance” in where she lived, so when her parents bought their Connecticut home, they “undertook their most maddening real estate project yet” and built her house in their backyard.
The one and a half bedroom, one bathroom cottage was designed with the help of architect David Bers, contractor Rick McCue, her father as so-called project manager, and her mother’s own artistic flair. The maximalist space is complete with floral wallpaper, checkerboard floors, and “parrots and turquoise-backed flowers” in the primary bedroom.
Dunham recalled her father saying about the backyard home: “It looks like a kindergartner drew a house. And I mean that as a compliment.”
The “Carriage House” cottage is also functionally tailored to Dunham’s physical needs, having revealed her Ehler-Danlos syndrome diagnosis in 2019. “The low staircase is perfect for the days my arthritic hips give me trouble, with a custom carved banister that is rounded like the corners of a marshmallow, and the bathtub has a pull-up bar in case I get dizzy,” she said.
The Catherine Called Birdy director also reserved a space in her home for moments of work and productivity – an office “outfitted with a cushy chair and footrest,” and a basement watercolor studio which contains her “most treasured” possession, a custom painting table designed by her father.
After a global pandemic separated Dunham from her ongoing backyard project for nearly two years, she finally returned home for Christmas to find that her mother unpacked all of her 112 storage boxes.
“She had shown me her deepest feelings by setting up this house, running her lean, silver-manicured fingers along every object I’d hauled through my 35 years, showing me just how well she knew me,” Dunham wrote.
She added: “I felt a shocking amount of gratitude – taking in the full blast of my good fortune – to have these parents and this home, to have a home at all.”
Lena Dunham concluded the tribute to her vibrant Connecticut home by recounting her answer when people ask if she “literally” lives “10 feet behind [her] parents”.
“Yes, literally,” she said. “Just as I always wanted.”