Saturday, May 21, 2011

John Saladino's Santa Barbara Villa

The enfilade from the dining room to the entrance hall.

John Saladino sought a career as an artist, rather than as the world-reknown influential interior designer he has become.  In 1961 he was accepted into Yale's Fine Arts program. However, Instead of studying art only in the aesthetic form, Saladino also studied art in the applied form, becoming an architect, out of which interior and landscape design naturally developed. "If given the opportunity ... I want to do all the architecture, the interiors, I want to design the furniture, and I want to do the garden. I see the whole thing as a homogeneous entity," says Saladino in a video interview with House & Garden. And along with those jack-of-all-trades talents, he still continues to paint.

The motorcourt.

In Saladino's book, Villa, he gives a visual diary detailing the four "relentless" years he spent restoring his 1920s Santa Barbara home.  But what began as a dilapidated 2,500-square-foot villa -- not much more than a romantic stone ruin -- was transformed into a 10,000-square-foot, 6 bedroom, 6 bath masterpiece that he named Villa di Lemma. The restoration encompassed a new foundation, a new roof, and stabilizing the cliffside portion of the 13-acre estate to prevent erosion, all of which took twice as long as he had predicted and cost three times his budget. "It's the summation of my knowledge ; it's my opus."

Below, an outdoor walkway. The stone walls and flooring were rescued from the original villa. Before re-use, however, the stone had to be scrubbed clean of peach paint covering all the original stone house surfaces. It took six men working full-time for a year to completely clean the stone of paint. 

Known for his complex-yet-edited interiors, Saladino infuses his designs with a sense of modern and ancient, rough and luxe. In the living room, below, the juxtaposition is evident in his carefully crafted, multi-note design: silk and leather; worn antique carpeting and modern sofa; wood and stone.  "Any room that you can immediately understand to me is a failure."

In the dining room, below, all of the floor tiles were dyed to achieve just the right color. One of the boiserie panels doubles as a door to the kitchen and breakfast room. The white tablecloth is a white Marseille bedcover. Saladino believes that the dining room is "the last place where we have theater in our lives."

Below, a modern kitchen in a beautifully-aged setting. Saladino has chosen to forgo upper cabinets, a trend that continues to gain popularity. Massive marble slabs comprise the counters; dishwashers, oven, and cooktop are Bosch; two doors disguise two Sub-Zero refrigerators and freezers; a third door is a secret entrance to Saladino's office.

Below, a cozy nook in a corner of the kitchen.

 The stairs leading to the office.

I just love this office (below), which he says is "not, of course, my main office, but the one I use in California to keep the dam plugged."

Saladino's master bedroom, with his fabulous Napoleonic sleigh bed. Of his design, he said, "I have to admit I gave way to my most extravagant theatrical inclinations. The new walls frame the bed like a proscenium stage."

Below, his beloved partner Betty Barrett's room. Saladino designed the daybed and linens for her in her favorite aqua tones.

The breakfast room.

A spare bedroom.

 Antique Fortuny fabric backs paintings of Santa Barbara landscapes.

An outdoor room.

Antique Venetian statues.

One of the Mediterranean gardens Saladino carefully designed and restored. More than 4,000 trees, shrubs, and flowers were planted on the property, including mature 50-year-old cypress trees and an olive allee.

Saladino's pool (on left) with an incomparable ocean view. The column is Roman from 200 B.C., and is discreetly secured by wire in this earthquake-prone area.


  1. your taste is great! keep up the nice content :)

  2. Plenty of really beautiful interiors and like what you write too.

  3. Very grand. The bedroom and the gardens are enchanting.