Ms. Toussaint refused to go higher than $250 on any auction purchase, and generally prevailed at a far lower price point. The upright piano in the dining room: hers for $1.18 (yes, you read that right). A large piece of Persian tile: $5. The rattan chair favored by the family dog, Alfred, set her back $40, as did the substantial breakfront in the kitchen.
“I could have gotten another one, but I didn’t have room,” she said. “I really lamented that. But I was like, ‘Lorraine, you don’t need two of them.’”
She filled in with purchases from, among other stores, Ballard Designs (the 1920s-style desk in her office) and Anthropologie (the twins of the barrel chair and tasseled ottoman that she had admired on the set of “The Equalizer”). She bought the brass-banded pedestal table in her bedroom from the estate of Diahann Carroll.
“I was meant to be a doctor or a lawyer, and when I said I wanted to be an actress, my aunt asked, ‘What Black actresses have you seen?’” Ms. Toussaint recalled.
“And I said, ‘Diahann Carroll,’ because when I was growing up in Trinidad, ‘Julia’ was one of the only shows on TV,” she continued, referring to the 1960s sitcom, the first series that starred a Black woman in a non-stereotypical role.
“I can’t say Diahann became a close friend, but she was a friend,” Ms. Toussaint said. “And every time I saw her, I thanked her for being the face that allowed me to believe I could do what I now do.”
A year or so ago came the installation of a long-coveted Southern-style front porch, complete with swing and skylights. “She had a hard time with that,” Ms. Toussaint said of the house. “She was like, ‘What are they nailing into me?’”