It wasn’t quite love at first sight when actress Constance Marie introduced her newborn daughter Luna Marie to her two dogs, Betty and Stella. “She didn’t want to have anything to do with them!” says Constance of her daughter, now 4. “Stella is a big dog and would step on her feet…she didn’t like that.”
But things are looking up. A few days ago, Constance, who currently stars on ABC Family’s Switched At Birth, got a surprise when she peeked inside her daughter’s room. “She was placing all her little dolls on Stella’s back, and then she made her give them rides around the house!” she says. “That poor dog. She was just looking at her and letting her do whatever she wanted. So now they’re great friends.”
It’s a testament to the power of love and patience, two traits that are in abundance in this household. Constance, whose fiancé is yoga coach Kent Katich, went through three years of infertility treatments before she became pregnant with Luna Marie. It was the most difficult years in her life, she says, but it was well worth the wait. Together with Stella, Betty, and their rescue cat Cinco, they’ve created an eco-conscious life full of kindness, sweet routines, healthy habits and lots of laughter.
The family lives in a two-story cottage-style home built in 1933. The house — which features cozy rooms and a beautiful, winding staircase — is decorated with light handcrafted fabrics, antique Persian rugs, Spanish-style accents and eclectic art. Here’s an exclusive peek inside Constance’s home and more from my interview with her:
Artist in residence: “I majored in art and my mom was an artist, so color means a lot to me,” says Constance, who is best known as George Lopez’s long-suffering wife on the George Lopez show. “I love a beach-y vibe in my house. The paintings are by Spanish artist Eva Armesin. They’re happy paintings. They remind me to be positive when I’m awake!”
Decorating tips: “When we moved in, it was a very dark house with lots of wood,” she says of the Los Angeles-area home. “I painted the ceilings white to open it up and the walls in soft colors. I never thought I was going to live in such an old house with such tiny rooms, but I found that if you choose light colors and smaller furniture that fit the space it feels much bigger.”
With a little help from Mary Poppins: “I try to teach my daughter to pick up after herself,” says Constance. “She’s all into Mary Poppins right now. I don’t let her watch a lot of television, but she listens to the music. So when I want her to pick up after herself, I tell her to pretend to be Mary and use her magic to clean up. It works!”
No plastic, please: “I’ve tried my hardest to stay away from plastic toys, but recently I had to give in,” says Constance. “We went to Disneyland for the first time and I told my daughter she could pick anything she’d like in the store. She was the last of her friends to go to Disneyland, so this was a big deal for her! I made her stand in the middle of the store and said, ‘Close your eyes and visualize what you want to play with tomorrow morning.’ She opened her eyes and the first thing she points at is this huge princess castle. In plastic! I thought to myself, ‘How many times is she going to have a first time at Disneyland?’ So I bought it for her. It was so hard for me, but she’s obsessed with it.”
(Above): The tree mural in Luna Marie’s room is hand painted — using eco-friendly paints — by a local artist.
House rules: “We watch TV and have treats three days a week. [Luna Marie] gets an organic lollipop, vegan marshmallows or something along those lines [Constance and her daughter are vegetarians]. On Wednesdays, she gets to watch 30 minutes of TV and she gets her treats after lunch. On Saturdays and Sundays, she can watch TV for about an hour. I want her to look forward to it, so it’s a treat instead of something that’s on all day long. On those days, she’ll wake up and say, ‘Is today treat day?'”
(Above): Stella waiting to be let in from the backyard.
A girl’s best friends: “My daughter is completely in love with the cat [Cinco, above right],” says Constance. “But the cat is terrified of her! Luna sneaks around the house and whispers, ‘You have to be very quiet when you’re around the cat, mommy.’ The dogs [both Stella and Betty, playing with Kent in the above photograph, are Goldendoodles] are more hardy. She can yell at them and they just look at her and don’t even react.”
Sweet sleep: “Honestly? My favorite piece of furniture is our bed! That bed is my haven. Growing up my mom always told me to get a great bed, because you spend so much time in your bed. The bed frame is a beautiful, solid wood frame with a dark wood finish. The mattress is a natural rubber mattress that’s free of toxins. My bed is my favorite place in the world. If I can get enough sleep, I feel like I can conquer the world!”
All photographs by Elizabeth Messina ©2013.