Reese Witherspoon’s Sweet Retreat in Ojai

by hookedonhouses on July 26, 2012

One of the first posts I wrote when I started this blog back in early 2008 was about the new country house Reese Witherspoon had just bought in Ojai, California. More than 4 years later, it’s still one of my most popular posts. Sounds kinda crazy, but it makes sense when you see how beautiful the property is.

Last time we saw photos of her house, they were from the real estate listing. So I was excited to hear that Reese gave Elle Decor a tour of “Libbey Ranch” so we can see how she put her own stamp on it. Take a look!


The designer who worked with Reese on the house was Kristen Buckingham.

The lovely photos were taken by William Waldron and styled for the mag by Anita Sarsidi.

Check out the September 2012 issue of Elle Decor (on stands Aug. 7) to read the article by David A. Keeps and see the rest of the pics.

The ranch made news last year when Reese married Jim Toth here. Looks like a pretty sweet place for a wedding! Now they’re expecting their first child together.

It was formerly owned by designer Kathryn Ireland, and House Beautiful featured it when she lived here. You may remember her from the Bravo show Million-Dollar Decorators (second season coming this fall, y’all!).

It was a little more colorful back then. Here’s how she decorated the house:

Ireland told House Beautiful:

Originally, this house was designed by Wallace Neff in the ’20s to be a barn. Then another architect, Austen Pierpoint, made changes in the ’40s so it could be a home. This is classic Spanish architecture, but with a sense of bohemian fun, comfortable and loose.

This shoot for House Beautiful was produced by Scot Schy, and the photos were taken by Victoria Pearson. I never get tired of looking at them. Makes me want to add more color to my own home!

Which incarnation of the house do you prefer? I love ‘em both. This has to rank as one of my favorite Celebrity Houses. I’d have no trouble making myself right at home here.

Want to see how it looked when Reese bought it? Check out the real estate photos I posted back then, along with more pics of how it looked when Kathryn Ireland lived here.

*9/12 UPDATE: She’s selling Libbey Ranch! See the listing photos here.

Click Here to See the Top 10 Celebrity Houses on My Blog Right Now

P.S. I’m an affiliate for Layla Grace. They have lots of beautiful things to drool over!

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Centsational Girl July 26, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Oooh I love these features Julia, that staircase is divine! Thanks for giving us the behind-the-scenes scoop and sharing all the eye candy!

Wendy July 27, 2012 at 12:26 am

What a hoot. Reece Witherspoon is my husband’s “exemption” (you know, the one person he’s allowed to mention he has a crush on). Now I see that he would love her house too, because it’s a larger, better decorated version of our own stone and log house in a beautiful California setting. Hmmm. Maybe I should take this exemption thing more seriously. ;)

Wendy July 27, 2012 at 12:26 am

Oh, and I prefer the house with more color.

Julie B. [Holland] July 27, 2012 at 2:14 am

I really love this house, I know its “setup” for a photo shoot, but it still feels homey. I think for me there is something “old Hollywood” about this home. I thought Reese was lucky to have bought this one. Julia I knew you have posted about this Im so glad you did ! Thanks :)

Kelly @ Talk of the House July 27, 2012 at 6:15 am

Oh that fireplace and ceiling and the little sleeping nooks….love them! I am usually one to favor more color,but I believe I actually like Reese’s better – or maybe I was just so blown away by the fireplace, ceiling,and sleeping nooks as I first looked that I fell in love with it then!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy... July 27, 2012 at 6:16 am

Whoa. What a great place. A lovely mix of pretty and earthy.

Linda@limeinthe coconut July 27, 2012 at 6:41 am

Def prefer the Ireland style…but even if it didn;t have a STICK of furniture in it….it is one of my absolutely all time fave houses!!! Thanks for that morning pick me up…better than a cup of coffee!

Baileywife July 27, 2012 at 7:07 am

Madly in love with Reese herself and her home! Her decor is more my style than any other celebrity home I’ve seen….Can’t wait to pick up that mag on Aug 7th. Thanks for the heads up. (and on a personal note: my daughter looks and acts just like Reese, that is her nickname around here:) ~Kim

Jane July 27, 2012 at 7:32 am

What a sweet place. Just how I imagined a home of Reese Witherspoon would look. I like both versions equally. And I love that shade of green on the shutters.

missy July 27, 2012 at 7:50 am

How can one decide between the two? Can’t wait for Million Dollar Decorators to come back on. I could sooooo just lay on Reece’s sofa all day long, but I could just LIVE in Kathryn’s comfy house ALL THE TIME! Love both houses!!

Shabby Chick July 27, 2012 at 8:24 am

Love Reese’s decorating style!!!

Margaret July 27, 2012 at 8:34 am

She took a house that was fun and colorful to bland and boring. And she has enough money to pay somebody to do that for her.

Ali Mathis July 28, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Amen to this.

MsJulie July 27, 2012 at 8:43 am

Beautiful home. I like the way they each decorated, but I don’t care for the stark/boring/glaring white walls.

The Glamorous Housewife July 27, 2012 at 8:55 am

I love me some Reese, but I have to say I like the one with more color better. Sorry Reese!

Thanks doll,
The Glamorous Housewife

Jane July 27, 2012 at 9:10 am

So fun to see the same house decorated two ways. Perfect for me would be somewhere in the middle. Love all the pictures! Love your blog Julia!

House Crazy Sarah July 27, 2012 at 9:12 am

The bohemian color scheme seems to catch my eye more than the soft white Reese style. But they are both loverly. And that courtyard – so romantic! I wish they showed more pics of the outdoor space!

Christina from Dallas July 27, 2012 at 9:32 am

I guess Reese likes things more muted than Kathryn. That’s okay. We each have our own decorating style. I like both styles.

Califas Chica July 27, 2012 at 10:07 am

Gracias for highlighting this home—California Spanish design, my favorite. While I love Ireland’s version for it’s color and vibrancy, the current design is also nice, subdued, yet casually elegant. Dream on…

Kirsten July 27, 2012 at 10:20 am

Reese and her designer hit it out of the park. Far preferred the softer side and fixtures and furniture were much better scaled. Loved it. I hope she does too!

jeanette July 27, 2012 at 10:28 am

LOVE this house…I think both styles are interesting in their own way (Buckingham vs. Ireland)….
and it’s fun to see the house two very different ways.

Carolyn July 27, 2012 at 10:30 am

I’ve loved this house since I first saw it in HB. The architecture is what is so fantastic here and it would be fabulous empty. I liked Kathryn Ireland’s bohemian colorful look which gave it some punch, but I have to say I like Reese’s look, too, and personally I don’t use as much color as Ireland is known for. I’m also a blue person and don’t much care for the oranges and warm reds, so I’d be more comfortable living in Reese’s version. I’d get rid of those giant green/teal pineapple lamps, though! They just don’t do it for me, even though I know with the vaulted ceilings you need something on a larger scale.

Claudia July 27, 2012 at 10:32 am

I love both styles. They are both so beautiful and comfortable!
Love to visit Ojai someday. Thank you for sharing.
Take care,

Laura July 27, 2012 at 11:13 am

The photo (of Reece’s) showing off the fireplace and interior Juliet balcony is GORGEOUS. But otherwise, I definitely prefer Kathy’s colorful style…..its otherwise so bland and looks professionally decorated like some boutique hotel or something. Come on, Reese, its a house with children! ;-)

Laura July 27, 2012 at 11:15 am

Wow! That’s my idea of a California house. I definitely like the colorful version better. I have muted colors in my east coast house for the most part, but the bright hues work really well with the Spanish style house. Love it!!!!

Rebecca C. July 27, 2012 at 11:16 am

No matter which style you like, I just love the house. It’s so homey and comfortable no matter what. I do prefer a bit more color though. It’s still lovely the way Reese has it decorated. Not too fussy or ornate. Love this posting!

Kim July 27, 2012 at 2:53 pm

How fun to see that you posted this today. I love Reese Witherspoon’s house, but it could use some pops of color. Other than that, it is gorgeous. One of the best Spanish styled homes I’ve ever seen.

Ginny Lee July 27, 2012 at 3:04 pm

This is one of my favorite celebrity retreats. I much prefer Kathryn Ireland’s decor though.

Nick July 27, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Okay, LOVE everything about Reese’s version of this home. I think she did a fabulous job keeping it elegant and chic, yet staying within the rustic style of this home.

Lauren July 27, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I was so excited to see this in Elle Decor. I like the decor in Reese’s much better. It’s rustic and homey but still modern and sophisticated. I think it’s very balanced. The house is amazing though no matter what’s inside. I think it may be my dream home.

paula soares July 27, 2012 at 5:46 pm

I just LOVE the nice way Reese put simple spots of colour in this house…just lovely! Congratulations,Reese! I thank you Julia for posting this one.

Dahlia July 27, 2012 at 7:54 pm

I can’t believe that one of my favorite houses ( the Ireland version) was made so bland. Part of the joyfulness of the house was the livable color scheme. Just shocking!

Ricki Jill Treleaven July 27, 2012 at 10:00 pm

I love Kathryn Ireland’s version better. I love her fabric designs, and I like nothing more than stark white walls with lots of colorful art and accessories. LOVE this post, and I so like what Reese did with the house, too. Lots of interesting textures going on! :D

Rebekah DeLibro July 27, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Hi Julie, I think it might be possible we were separated at birth……I have just spent 1 1/2 hours reading your wonderful blog! I am house obsessed as well. This being said I have only lived in 3 different homes in my 40 yrs. My childhood home was built in 1943 and my grandparents owned it and sold it to my uncle then my parents bought it when they were married. It was a small 2 bedroom cape cod until my grandfather renovated the upstairs and added two more bedrooms. My father added a full bath to the upstairs shortly before I turned 13 and moved from my downstairs bedroom to my upstairs teenaged haven. My parents also added a huge “country” kitchen as they called it and family room off the kitchen in the late 70′s. When I got married we bought “new” which in my mind means boring, but I was young and wanted new at the time. I loved our townhouse and added a lot of mouldings and details to make it more charming. We had a wonderful 7 yrs making memories in our first home and brought our daughter now 10 and son 6 home to live. I sometimes miss the littleness of our children and that townhouse. We moved the spring before our daughter started kindergarten to a house that was built in 1984 but in great shape with great bones. We looked at many houses and this one felt like home the very first time we walked in. We have done a number of projects in the five years we have lived here and have plans for bigger renos in the future. I love old movies as well and we share some of the same favorites, like Mr. Blandings, Affair to remember, Gone with the Wind, Mildred Pierce. Love your sunroom and your master bedroom re-do, our master is next on our list. So glad I found this blog :) btw we had the same thing happen to our patio set, and were home to witness it. Really scary, but I hated ours and was glad to have an excuse to look for a new one. Loved this one on Reese, she is a class act and so is her home. Thank you!

Rebekah DeLibro July 27, 2012 at 11:27 pm

Sorry, I meant Julia and my name is Rebekah. This is what happens when I am reading cool blogs on my lap top late at night.
~Rebekah DeLibro

Mata July 28, 2012 at 8:05 am

I do like what Reese Witherspoon has done but I have to say Kathryn Ireland’s style really has her personality on it. Reese’s decor is very now and fresh but I don’t get a sense of personality in it compared to Kathryn’s. The house’s bones are so unbelievable that really just about anything in it would look great! Gorgeous home, beautiful property!

laura @ hollywood housewife July 28, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Ooooh, I love seeing two interpretations of the same house. And shockingly, I like them both!

e. george July 30, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Hi Julia I love this home which ever way I look at it Reese or Kathryn it’s just beautiful I would be happy just to sit under that tree. I have one of Kathryn’s books and am always looking at it she has a way of decorating that I like very much. Thank you for sharing beautiful as always. Regards Esther from Sydney.

Scot Schy July 31, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Great post, I love this house too. I produced the shoot for House Beautiful in December of 2007 (and it ran in March of 2008) can you please correct the photo attribution?
I am the producer, not the photographer.
The photographer is the spectacular Victoria Pearson.

Thank you in advance for correcting this.


hookedonhouses July 31, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Sorry about that, Scot. Just fixed it. Thanks for letting me know!

Pamela Dela Cruz August 14, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Love your home, Reese.

Barbara DeMares August 17, 2012 at 12:27 am

I absoulutely love what Reese did with her home! It is more friendly and contemporary that way. All the love to you and your family!

Gloria September 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Lovely home. Looks like a fairy-tale. But Please show the Exterior of the building.


hookedonhouses September 11, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Gloria–you can see more photos of the house, including the exteriors, in the first post I wrote about it:

Lila September 22, 2012 at 11:01 pm

I love Kathryn Ireland’s colorful design!

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