Cobie Smulders may be best known for her role as the Scotch-drinking Canadian journalist Robin Scherbatsky on the hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother, but in reality Smulders is more likely to make a mood board than a stiff drink. The mother of two daughters (spoiler alert: Smulders’s character on HIMYM is not quite what you’d call maternal) is focusing on the future of her family’s new home, including renovating the structure into a “modern ranch” and making the house as environmentally friendly as possible.
With a similar focus on the future of our youth and the family unit (Smulders’s says a main reason for the selection of her Californian home was the community it is in), she’s joined Frito-Lay’s Dreamvention program, which partners with four STEM-focused museums across the country to offer families free admission during December and January. To make the experience more hands-on, one family unit will win $250,000 for their submission of an invention that makes day-to-day life easier. “Being a mother of two kiddos, the idea of creating a competition about inventing, creating, was really appealing to me,” Smulders says. “I think in this day and age, it’s important to get kids away from their screens and be using their hands and doing tangible projects.” Here, Smulders, who will appear in one of spring’s most anticipated films, Avengers: Infinity War, tells us more about her current tangible project: her family’s new California home.
Architectural Digest: Can you paint us a picture of what your own home and interior design style is like?
Cobie Smulders: It’s funny that you bring it up because I am actually renovating a house right now so I am in this frame of mind and I am reading Architectural Digest a lot to get inspired and to get ideas. My little home—I have a little home in Venice that I am living in right now, which is sort of like a ranch-style, house-like bungalow, and it’s a beautiful, cute, little house, simplistic but tiny, tiny. And we just moved back from New York and we have another child now. So my poor daughters are sharing a room that is not even really fit for one human.
So we purchased a larger house and it’s sort of like a traditional house. It has dormers, and the roof is old wood shingles from the 1920s. The interior needs a serious update so we gutted the entire thing and we are about four months into our renovation right now and it’s pretty insane! So we hired an amazing architect and an amazing contractor who has really helped us along the way, but sort of our style aesthetic is a modern ranch. We love being as environmental as humanly possible: using reclaimed wood; doing solar panels; trying to be as energy efficient as possible in terms of heating, in terms of insulation; and just a lot of bright, open space since we live in California, so you want to try to maximize the light as much as possible.
AD: Do your kids have a say at all in designing their rooms or choosing the house or anything like that?
CS: Yeah, absolutely! I mean, within reason, right? They can’t do, like, the slide down into the pool, which was a request. But they are definitely in terms of the wallpaper, in terms of painting, in terms of how they want their desks to be and what kind of bed they want, absolutely. But, you know, it’s a pre-existing home, so there is only so much we can do structurally; it’s more about the aesthetics that we are asking for their opinion on.
AD: What was it about the house that attracted you so much when you saw it?
CS: It was the location. It’s in a great neighborhood. It’s got a view, but it’s also on kind of a quieter street. I am excited to sort of be part of a community, you know. I have been sort of in limbo: I was in New York for three years, and we were in our little house that was in a very busy neighborhood. There is not a lot of neighbor interaction and so I am excited to be a part of a community and go trick-or-treating on this street and Christmas decorations.
AD: Lastly, which one of your characters’ design style is most like yours? How do you incorporate this character’s design style into your own life, if at all?
CS: You don’t get as much input with the set, but I do find that every time I step onto a set, it’s like, oh, this is my bedroom; oh, okay, this is what my character would like and sometimes you get a heads-up, you can be a part of that or ask to have certain things. I like sort of choosing objects like on the mantle or beside the bed, where you can see them more frequently. I like to have a part in making those decisions.