Art of Living

At a hillside haven in Malibu, actress Jane Seymour finds inspiration.
By Vicki J. Weathers

Before she played Elise McKenna in Somewhere in Time or Dr. Michaela Quinn in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, before she came to America from England, Jane Seymour dreamed of being a ballerina. She even danced with the Russian ballet until an injury halted that career track. Instead, she went on to act, paint, design a clothing line, and create an extraordinary life in Malibu.

This morning the house bustles with activity. Jane meets with an art dealer to prepare a shipment of her paintings for an upcoming show, then takes a call from her publicist to chat about an appearance. Her husband, director James Keach, works in his office on a film project. As the gardener breezes by with some freshly picked produce, Jane talks with her assistant about the afternoon schedule for twins John and Kristopher. Rushing from one task to another, the down-to-earth celebrity is a blur in denim.

Together she and James have six children: the twins from their marriage and four from previous relationships. "My kids are here, my family's here, we entertain here," Jane says. "We give a huge event once a year for the American Red Cross, where we'll have 300 to 400 people. Otherwise, we entertain very casually; we'll do buffet and everyone helps themselves."

Her home, offering sweeping views of the Pacific, welcomes both celebrations and everyday living. Today, an azure sky seamlessly flows into crystal-clear water, and sunlight floods the interiors. "When we bought the house it was very dark, with wooden floors and rustic beams," Jane says. "I had an interior decorator who at one point wanted to turn it into a Tuscan villa."

Jane envisioned something different. She brightened the interiors by painting exposed beams a buttery cream. The floors were stripped, then faux-painted to appear whitewashed. She dressed the rooms in soft creams and greens―colors captured from views of the beach and abundant coral trees. "I don't want to have a completely different color scheme in each room," Jane says. "If something goes with other things, it's quite easy to move items from room to room." Pillows in the master bedroom, for example, work equally well on the living room sofa.

Her sense of style recently attracted the team at Saks Inc., and together they produced a new line of linens, accessories, and furnishings. The latest collection, Coral Canyon, draws inspiration from Jane's Malibu setting. "Now that I'm doing a home collection, I can use [some of it] in my house. I like the challenge of putting it all together," she says.

"I randomly chose fabric swatches that absolutely grabbed me," she adds. "Then I took all the pieces, grouped colors, and laid them down on the floor in separate piles. I brought my husband in and said, 'Walk around the room and stop wherever you think you want to wake up in the morning. Tell me where you would like to watch a ballgame with your feet on the couch.' He had input, and then I knew exactly what I wanted in each room."

The result nourishes her creative side, from acting to art to design. Jane explains, "Often I'm waiting on a script, so it's just as well that I have other outlets."

The day eases into late afternoon as James passes through the living room on his way out to a meeting. John heads to gymnastics while the chess instructor arrives for a lesson with Kristopher. In the suddenly quiet house, Jane realizes she has the place to herself. She walks briskly to her studio eager to complete a painting she started yesterday. "It's rare when I can steal away and paint without interruption," she says, flashing her silver-screen smile.