Montecito is in Santa Barbara County, California, and in addition to its lucky Mediterranean climate and scenery, this area is famous for being one of the most affluent communities in the United States and the home to well-known and wealthy residents.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, some Italians were attracted to the place on account of its physical similarity to their own country, and they began settling there, influencing local architecture as a result.
Similarly, Wallace Frost, an American architect of the first half twentieth century, decided to build his private residence there in 1934, after a short period spent in Italy.
On passing through an entrance secured by 18th-century Spanish gates, one follows the drive leading to the main residence. This stands on the slopes of a hill facing the Pacific Ocean in rich eucalyptus and olive woodland which gives it, from the first sight onwards, a matchless charm.
The main building was inspired by 17th-century villas in Tuscany, and has terracotta surfaces, exposed ceiling beams, floors consisting of 18th-century tiles from Italy and graceful courtyards adorned with refined statues and fountains.
Some years later, the property was bought by the interior designer John Saladino, who undertook extensive renovations lasting five years. It was in 2012, however, that the villa came back into the spotlight, owing to its purchase by the well-known American TV presenter and actress Ellen DeGeneres and her partner Portia de Rossi.
The couple have extended the holding to cover an area of 70,000 square metres which include a tennis court and an entertainment room called the Jordan Hall.
But the decisive touch results from the furnishing which they have given the house: intelligent matching of designer products by Nakashima, Royère, Prouvé and Aalato, just to name a few. These have created a perfect union amongst themselves and with the environment around, and their sophisticated detail shows the esteem in which this fascinating house in held.
Our thanks to Sotheby’s International Realty for their cooperation in producing this article.
Montecito, June 2017