celebrity real estate

The Elite ‘MTV Cribs to Open Door’ Club

Photo: MTV Vault/YouTube, Architectural Digest/YouTube

Every institution has its version of elite status. Saturday Night Live has the five-timers, Keith McNally has AAA (Anna Wintour) and AA (rumored longtime boyfriend Bill Nighy) rankings, and my high school had a separate lunch room for popular kids called “the commons.” Today, I would like to add my own: celebrities whose homes were featured on the spectacularly lowbrow original MTV Cribs who were later featured on Architectural Digest’s Open Door series, which is decidedly fancier if not a little joyless.

Cribs first premiered in 2000 and set the standard for celebrity home tours in the new millennium: The houses were almost always ugly (sorry), the hammy cameos and entourages were plentiful, and there was always a lot of beige-leather and cherry-wood finishes. Its impact can’t be overstated: My sister’s bat-mitzvah theme was MTV, and I sat at the Cribs table. Open Door premiered in 2012, with the magazine’s sheen of sophistication and design-mindedness replacing the car-shaped beds of its predecessor. The celebrities featured want you to know they have taste, even if that taste happens to be the same genre of bland minimalism (and even if, a year later, many of those homes end up being listed for sale). The famous people featured on both, then, offer us a document of transformation: a coming of age, a spiritual awakening, a … hiring of Clements Design. Let’s begin.

Adam Levine

In 2004, a full six years before the debut of Instagram and nearly 20 years before he would use the platform to send adulterous sexts to multiple women while married to Behati Prinsloo, Adam Levine opened the doors of his Los Angeles two-bedroom to Cribs. The house is fairly empty — both Levine and bandmate-slash-roommate James Valentine claimed to have only stayed there a handful of nights since touring the world on the success of She Will Be Loved but a few decorative instincts can be sensed. Both men, then in their 20s, appear to have matching California kings and “jungle” printed wallpaper above their beds — a very millionaire-dorm-suite vibe. Other era-appropriate flourishes include hypercolor portraits of the Beatles (Levine “love, love, loves” waking up every morning and “seeing his heroes”), a fridge full of nothing but Red Bull (with a separate Red Bull fridge on top), and a state-of-the-art-for-2004 television setup on which a group of friends can be seen playing Halo. (“I’m trying to create a really sick environment here,” Levine explains.) The Adam of Cribs is naïve to questions of taste and function. (He stores an ab machine in the home’s depressingly empty kitchen.)

The Adam of 2021, warm in the embrace of wedded domesticity, parenthood, and a Pacific Palisades 10-bedroom, seems to have matured. The home features some Open Door classics: arcade games, sneakers in display cases, and interiors by Kardashian-favorite Clements Design. But Levine’s tastes have refined. The kitchen features a giant waterfall island and is now the heart of the home: “Doesn’t matter how nice your house is,” he says, “the kitchen is where everyone ends up.” There are still video games, but family-appropriate (“The kids … huge Ms. Pac-Man fans”). The dorm bedroom is long gone with a Pettibon above the bed replacing the off-the-shelf pop art. In quite possibly the most candid moment of the series, Levine says, “This house isn’t for sale, so don’t even think about it … for at least a year,” while showing off his dude heaven: rows of sweats and T-shirts and shoes in his Kanye-inspired closet. (The house sold for $51 million just nine months after this video was published.) Significantly, Levine has barely aged between the two videos despite his lack of tattoos in his Cribs tour. Maybe it’s all the sexting.

Travis Barker

Could the Travis Barker of 2002 have predicted that he would one day be a drummer and reality-television star married to a Kardashian instead of a drummer and reality-television star married to Shanna Moakler? Life — a wild ride. This may be where the continuities end, though. The Cribs tour of his Corona, California, home features a massive entryway fish tank (“I don’t really care about any of the fish in here besides Scooter”) and a man who has yet to discover veganism. The white leather couches and DVD collection place us firmly in the early aughts, and his kitchen is as upsetting as any young musician’s. (He shows off a box of ketchup packets and SpaghettiOs.) Barker’s tour also features another Cribs classic: a completely staged cameo, this time Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas in Barker’s drum room.

By 2022, Barker’s restrained Waldo Fernandez–led Calabasas home is nearly indistinguishable from any of the Kardashian-Jenner homes featured (relentlessly) on AD’s YouTube channel (we counted 12), but he is consistent in his black-and-cream color scheme. The fish tank is gone (rest in peace, Scooter) as Barker shows off his Apple Store–refined, minimalist home. Also gone are the ketchup packets, replaced by a matcha station (Kourtney makes a cameo, less ostentatious than the Cribs variety, praising her fiancé’s “famous matcha.”) His affinity for skeletons carries over between homes but is now more understated, as shown in his Buster and Punch custom-designed skull lamp and a Kourtney Kardashian original — a plate painted at Color Me Mine.

One thing has endured over the decades: Barker’s commitment to riding BMX bikes indoors and the aforementioned drum room. Some things never change.

Vanessa Carlton

Carlton is a Manhattan girl in both her Cribs debut and AD tour, and unlike her fellow Cribs-AD crossovers, is in the same place for both tours. The Cribs Carlton of 2006 shows off her (tasteful) nude art and her 14 bottles of vodka (that she respectfully attributes to her Russian heritage). By far the most charming part of Vanessa’s Cribs tour is her complete giddiness over her “freaking” in-unit washer and dryer (“Having a washer and dryer room in New York is amazing”). Perhaps less charming but just as candid: She describes her bidet as “for ass-washing.”

In Vanessa’s AD tour in 2020, we meet her again — but with bangs. The kitchen remains largely the same — kept the stainless steal, lost the dead shark in a jar — though she’s improved the living room by embracing the deep sectional. (The nudes are gone, though.) The place is very empty, and if you wonder why, it’s because, as Bobby Finger pointed out last year in his own assessment of celebrity home tours, she was trying to rent it out. The listing boasted that the piano on which she wrote “A Thousand Miles” could be included in the rental. A piece of history!

Naomi Campbell

The Campbell of 2003 is showing off her Jamaica home (the former residence of James Bond writer Ian Fleming). While Cribs felt deliberately over-the-top, Campbell’s vacation home holds up better than most. It’s small and cozy, and if you lost the dated television, you could mistake it for a not-terrible Airbnb rental. (The Bob Marley portrait only enhances this vibe.) The home is filled with vintage iron beds, practical mosquito netting, and what she calls “the best swimming pool in the world.” (I agree, it’s a gorgeous pool.) Her octagonal bedroom (“I love octagons,” supermodel Naomi Campbell) is delightful — I’d sleep there tonight.

Her present-day Kenyan compound is considerably more luxe. The home is similarly designed to maximize indoor-outdoor spaces and features a lot of antique dark woods (“I find wood so grounding”). She reveals that air-conditioning causes wrinkles (“I think”), and who can disagree since she looks stunning 15 years after her original Cribs video. Well past the seven-minute mark, Naomi decides to show off her own room in her continental resort, including massive pictures of a little boy draped in red (“I love this little boy, I think he’s gorg”) and a lion (“I love lions, I mean the lion is it”). The lion is it, and so is Naomi Campbell’s Kenyan compound.

The Elite ‘MTV Cribs to Open Door’ Club