Press Piece: Barbra Details Love of Design in New Book
November 27, 2010, 2:00am

By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – It’s not exactly opening your home to guests at a holiday party, but for film and singing star Barbra Streisand and her fans, it’s pretty close.

This week Streisand has seen her first book land in stores, but it’s no memoir of star turns in films such as “Funny Girl” or “The Way We Were,” nor does it recount the making of albums that have sold over 71 million copies.

For her debut as an author, Streisand has instead written about her love of architecture, art, furniture and landscaping in “My Passion for Design.” But don’t be fooled by its title because within the pages, the star tells tales from her life and career that influenced the choices she made in designing her dream home in Malibu, California.

“I think it makes it more interesting,” she told Reuters about the book’s first-person style. “People have been asking me to write my autobiography, but I don’t want to go there yet and be that personal. I guess it crept into my own writing.”

“This is how I see the world now, and what is beautiful to me,” she added.

The coffee table book from Viking publishers takes readers on Streisand’s years-long journey planning, building and furnishing the compound that resembles a 19th century New England farm with a barn, mill house, main house, Grandma’s house and even a chicken coop.

It is not the first house the singer has designed for herself. In fact, it follows several others including an Art Deco-themed house, and her New York City apartments. But it is the home in which Streisand and her husband James Brolin spend most all their time and it is, in a word, rather comfy.

Adding to the book’s personal touches, avid photographer Streisand took most all the pictures herself.


In the introduction, readers learn Streisand likes to spend her mornings in bed, with her dog Samantha at her feet. It is there that she writes, reads, eats and even trades stocks.

“It’s a way of gambling without having to get dressed,” Streisand writes.

She said she doesn’t know exactly from where she derived her love of architecture and design, but adds it certainly wasn’t from her mother, who covered their furniture in plastic when she was a child to keep it from getting damaged. In Streisand’s Malibu home, nothing is sheathed.

The book is divided into separate sections covering the different structures within the compound. She starts in the chicken coop, where she houses hens who lay eggs, and she covers the gardens where she grows her own vegetables.

Her “barn” is a home, really — no stalls for livestock — but Streisand is quick to point out that she doesn’t live there. The main house is her home. “Building the barn was like completing an art project,” she writes.

The design styles span roughly three centuries, from the 18th through the 20th, but the common theme is a love of Americana. There is her “Federal Lounge,” that looks like a townhouse in Washington, D.C., her “Bee’s Doll Shop,” which houses her doll collection, and the Antique Clothes Shop, which shows off her love of vintage clothing.

“It represents all the different parts of my personality,” she said of the rooms and their various styles.

In addition to design, Streisand also has a passion for raising money to help fund research for heart disease in women, which she said has impacted her own family. She recently launched a $10 million fund-raising effort benefiting the Women’s Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. More information can be found at

(Editing by Jill Serjeant)

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