In addition to homes in Winston-Salem, N.C., Angelou found a home in Harlem in 2004 through famous friends: the husband-and-wife songwriting duo of Valerie Simpson and Nick Ashford:
“They called me and said, ‘We found your house,’ ” she says. “I said, ‘All right, put $10,000 down on it.’ They said, ‘No, you have to see it.’ And I said, ‘No, I trust you. If you believe that’s my house, I know it’s my house.’ “
The 3,500-square-foot home with 14 rooms had seen its share of wear and tear, including rain, fire and vandalism. Angelou spent time and money redoing the house, keeping much of its original oak door mouldings and railings.
In all of her homes, Ms. Angelou likes color. The Harlem house was designed to look like a bowl of summer fruit—watermelon pink, tomato red and plum purple, she says. A lime-green couch and three armchairs in pink, blue and yellow surround a square stone table, set with a bowl of glass fruit.