Tuesday, November 30, 2010
LOCATION: Santa Barbara, CA
PRICE: Price Upon Request (previously reported to be $17,500,000)
SIZE: 10,000-ish square feet,
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Listen giblets, contrary to popular opinion we are still "officially" partaking in our extended Thanksgiving holiday break and, more importantly, we are more than a little worse for wear from last night's early dinner of tomato bits and champagne that ran obscenely late with our visiting from Alaska gal pal Sheila Sinn and her baby brother Vard C. Camp. So cut us some slack, okay?
In June of 2010 Emmy winning comedian cum kind of conservative radio talk show host Dennis Miller and his long time former model wifey Carolyn "Ali" Espley listed their fully restored, updated and upgraded mansion in Montecito, CA with a reported asking price of $17,500,000
Mister Miller started up his ladder of fame in the mid-1980s when he appeared on Star Search and lost to the spectacularly unfunny Sinbad. It wasn't long before he took over the Weekend Update desk on Saturday Night Live. After jumping the SNL ship in the early 1990s he helmed an eponymous late-night talk show on the tee-vee and by the early 2000s he'd taken a job as a color commentator for Monday Night Football. In the mid-naughts he began a long relationship with Fox News on which he gives his opinion on things on their various punditry programs. His primary gig nowadays, as far as Your Mama can tell, is a 3-hour syndicated talk radio program called The Dennis Miller Show on which he chit-chats about political, cultural and social issues and plays host to a variety of guests from Ohio lefty liberal congressman Dennis Kucinich to that smug and pugnacious Ann Coulter ladee who causes Your Mama's sphincter to seize up with anxiety at the mere mention of her name.
According to previous reports and property records Mister and Missus Miller picked up their Montecito estate–technically and from the tax man's point of view located in Santa Barbara and not Montecito–way back in 1993 for an undisclosed amount of moolah. Your Mama thinks it's pretty safe to assume the cost for acquiring the property was far far far less than the seventeen and some million they're (allegedly) asking. Anyhoodles poodles, the 10,000-ish square foot house was lucky enough to be designed and built in 1895 by prominent and adroit Gilded Age architect Stanford White part of whose bizness was to conjure and create opulent homes for shockingly rich individuals. He's also the man (mostly or partly) responsible for designing the iconic Washington Square Arch in New York City's Greenwich Village and both the Metropolitan and Century clubs, also in New York City.
Listing information indicates the historic and elegant 2-story mansion with 8 bedrooms and 9 terliting facilities was restored by Mister and Missus Miller in a 1994 gut renovation that dutifully retained the masterful configuration of rooms and maintained the original architectural detail. The public rooms include but are not limited to an impress the guests style entrance hall, graciously scaled formal living room with fireplace and a bank of French doors that open to a planted terrace, an intimately sized and bookshelf lined library with a second fireplace, a banquet hall sized formal dining room outfitted with Chippendale chairs, an antique crystal chandelier and a second slightly less formal eating area tucked into a window wrapped nook.
There are exposed beams painted white in the large gore-may eat-in kitchen that has mahogany flooring, white raised panel cabinetry, a Mercedes-sized marble topped work island/breakfast bar, dee-luxe built in side by side fridge and freezer and a Dutch door that opens to a side terrace. We don't particularly care for the generic and upscale banality of this particular cookery but we do love us a Dutch door, children.
In 2002, according to listing information, Mister and Missus Miller embarked on a second renovation of the shingled Colonial style residence that included an enlargement of the family room with river rock fireplace and built-in banquette style eating area. The master bedroom suite was enlarged and includes a bed chamber with fireplace separated from a private sitting room by French doors, custom closets and and a vast partially paneled pooper with mahogany herring bone pattern floors, fireplace, rose velvet covered window seat and matching free standing chaise where Mister and Missus Miller probably sit when they clip each other's toenails, twin free-standing vanities, and a gigantic soaking tub for two set smack in the center of the damn room room.
Deep, rocking chair style covered porches lined with columns and flower boxes ring the lower level of the house and transition the elegant but not entirely stuffy interior spaces to the expansive grounds that include 3.76 acres of unnaturally green lawns, beautifully laced mature trees and lush flower gardens. At one end of the house a heated swimming pool and spa complex includes built-in lounge seating, a large stone terrace heated by a massive free standing river rock outdoor fireplace, and a cabana with fully equipped kitchen, barbecue and a poolside pooper. Elsewhere on the grounds are a tennis court, sunken trampoline and a "whimsical" tree house.
Just beyond the swimming pool a separate "Recreation House" built in 1917 has a private gated drive, sunken living room with original stone fireplace, and two bedrooms perfect for overflow guests who tend to make too much noise farting and fornicating.
The stunning Stanford White designed mansion with its separate "Recreation House" isn't, as it turns out, the only old house Mister and Missus Miller own in Montecito. They also own the French Mediterranean style villa across the road. Although information Your Mama dug up on the interweb shows that the listing expired in mid-November of 2010, Mister and Missus Miller had this second Mediterranean manse on the market with an asking price of $2,500,000.
As best as Your Mama can tell, Mister and Missus Miller scooped up this second residence in June of 1993 for an undisclosed amount of money...or at least an amount of money we were unable to suss out.
The main house, according to listing information, has two master suites plus staff quarters. A fully detached guest house, situated across the motor court from the main house includes an office area and two additional and good sized guest rooms that share a single pooper.
The tile roofed and wood shuttered residence was built in 1958 at the tail end of a long gated driveway and includes a large entry with magnificent black and white marble checked floor, a paneled formal living room with fireplace, blood red formal dining room that opens into a sun room with picture windows, sky lights, and fireplace, and a country kitchen. A sparsely furnished family room sort of space has built-in bookshelves, a wall mounted flat screen tee-vee and a bizarre and not particularly cohesive collection of traditional upholstered pieces paired with a chunky and very disco Lucite coffee table that, quite honestly, would look 47 times better up in Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter's family room.
Both of the upstairs master suites have tree top views and at least one opens out to a covered terrace with views over the back yard and towards the Pacific Ocean. The swimming pool, surrounded by dense foliage, is a swoon-worthy circular affair although we could very well do without the pair of rooster figurines that stand guard over the steps into the pool.
To be honest chickens, Your Mama don't know a circus tent from a book store so we really can't say what purpose this house serves for Mister and Missus Miller. Perhaps it's another guest house. Or maybe his or her parents occupy the place. Or maybe they just rent it out to someone with the dough-ray-me to live in Montecito but not the desire to actually own a house in Montecito.
Celebrities and filthy rich big bizness types ooze out of every crevice of über upscale Montecito and some of Mister and Missus Miller's nearby neighbors include tennis ace Jimmy Connors, movie producer Steve Tisch (Forrest Gump, American History X, Snatch), actor Michael Keaton, and the queen of Montecito herself Oprah Winfrey, but of course her $50,000,000 spread is so damn big that she's neighbors with practically everyone on Montecito.
listing photos: Coldwell Banker Previews International
Monday, November 29, 2010
Villa Tre Ville: located in the hillside next to Positano, Italy. The property has 4 villas, stacked one on top of the other. You can see the villas on the left side of the picture.
The two Amalfi Coast resorts Villa Tre Ville and Li Galli share many things. Both are former luxury villas near Positano that were once owned by famous artists. Li Galli, was owned, of course, by the dancer Rudolf Nureyev, while Villa Tre Ville was home to the movie and opera director Franco Zeffirelli. Zeffirelli had bought his property from a Russian writer, Mikhail Semenov, who had purchased the property in the 20’s. These two properties are now forever linked in other ways than their geography - both are owned by the Italian hotelier Giovanni Russo. And both these once private houses are now luxury rentals. During the 35 years that Zeffirelli owned Villa Tre Ville, he hosted such famous guests as Leonard Bernstein, Maria Callas, Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli, Elton John and Laurence Olivier. Although a prolific opera director, Zeffirelli is perhaps best known for his 1968 movie version of Romeo and Juliet. When Zeffirelli owned Villa Tre Ville, it was comprised of three separate villas hanging off the rocky hillside. Climbing up from one house to another began to be too much for the aging Zeffirelli, and it was for this reason that he sold the property to Russo. His biographer, David Sweetman, recalled a meeting at Villa Tre Ville: "It took hours [to get there.] The taxi bill was unreal, but eventually we arrived at the top of this little winding road. And there was just a gate, and I had to go down all these bloody stairs to the villa. Eventually, some ancient servant let me in, and I was shown on to this opera set. I've never seen anything like it. It seemed, just possibly, the most beautiful place on Earth."
Things are different today. One of the first changes Russo made was to add a much needed elevator inside the rock – a feat that involved 12 donkeys and a crew of stone masons who used old fashioned pickaxes. The estate now has four villas instead of three, with a total of 15 rooms – all of which have been totally redesigned and updated by Russo. As at Li Galli, prices are steep. In season a room can cost up to $8,000 a night, although smaller suites are much less. And as at Li Galli, all the fruits and vegetables come from the estate, while fresh fish come from the bordering sea. Throughout the property there are private gardens and winding paths that link the acreage together. All the villas have terraces, some of which are shaded under flowering pergolas, while others are open to the beautiful sea views. Throughout, there quiet places for guests to sit and drink in the atmosphere. And, as at Li Galli, if the guests desire more excitement and shopping, there is a boat that taxis to and from Positano.
Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet, 1968.
His most famous movie starred the 15 year old Olivia Hussey and 17 year old Leonard Whiting. Zeffirelli was praised for hiring actors that were almost the true ages of Shakespeare's characters. Hussey was not allowed to attend the London premier because of the nudity in the movie. Ironically, the nudity she was barred from seeing was her own!
The four villas, one on top of the other.
Although Russo made many changes, he tried to maintain the original atmosphere found when the property was a private estate. In the Zeffirelli suite, the same furniture that he used is there today, including the mother of pearl bedroom set which the director brought over from Syria. Some of his original papers and books remain on the property. In one suite, an old bread oven was turned into a cavernous shower. Russo hopes to keep the literary and ballet world a part of his properties. Recently he hosted opera star Andrea Bocelli and artist Julian Schnabel at Villa Tre Ville. Schnabel even added his finishing touch a fresco on the property. Visitors come from all over the coast: at night, large yachts pull up to the property, depositing guests to eat at the restaurant, The Pergola, dining on the beautiful candle lit terraces.
The town of Positano – Villa Tre Ville over looks this beautiful view.
The beauty of the property lies not only within the villas, but also in the views and landscape. There are many flowering bordered pathways that connect the villas. Pergolas are covered in green vines and bright bougainvillea. The terraces overlook the many lawns and gardens that lead down to the sea. The architect Fausta Gaetani, a frequent guest of Zeffirelli’s, was hired by Russo to renovate the property.
A charming wood boat, the San Ferdinando zips back and forth to the town of Positano. A limousine is also available.
THE PERGOLA: THE RESTAURANT AT VILLA AZZURRA
The restaurant is appropriately named, La Pergola. In warm months, guests sit under the pergola, on colder days – meals are served around an indoor fireplace, exactly where Zeffirelli ate his meals. The restaurant is located in the Villa Azzurra, as is the Club Lounge
A recent guest posted his dinner on Flickr. Is your mouth watering?
Nureyev’s islands Li Galli are seen in the waters off the restaurant's terrace.
The tiled kitchen could not be any more charming! The kitchen which overlooks the sea is open to the guests who want watch the chefs at work.
Inside the Villa Azzurra – guests eat around the fireplace in cooler months. The stairs led up to one of the suites.
The fireplace in the Villa Azzurra is surrounded by niches filled with antique pottery. The mantel is so beautiful!
A photograph of Zeffirelli standing in front of the pottery niches. I love his décor and prefer it to today’s decor!!!!! I wish I could see more of it!
A close up of the gorgeous glass chandelier in the lobby of the Villa Azzurra.
The artist Julian Schnabel recently added his touch to the fresco in the Villa Azzurra lobby.
THE CLUB LOUNGE: VILLA AZZURRA
The open terrace next to the restaurant is the Club Lounge which serves drinks during the day and early night.
A corner of the Club Lounge terrace at Villa Azzurra.
SALONE BIANCO AT VILLA BIANCO:
The bar, Salone Bianco is located at the Villa Bianco. The interior designer Renzo Mongiardino is responsible for its Moroccan styled interiors.
Another part of the Salone Bianco. I love the white tiled walls.
Drinks are also served outside the Salone Bianco on the terrace of the Villa Bianco.
Another picture of the terraces at the Salone Bianco at Villa Bianco, during early dusk. At the lower level on the right is the entrance to the “Tosca” suite. The large Villa Bianco is where Zeffirelli actually lived.
THE VILLA ROSA:
The first of the four villas is the pink Villa Rosa, which is highest up on the hill. It comes with its two suites: The Bernstein and the Nijinsky Suites. Most rooms are named after the famous guests that have slept in them.
The Bernstein suite is all blue and white tiles. The pattern in the floor tiles looks exactly like a Madeline Weinrib rug.
The shower in the Bernstein suite was created out of a former pizza oven. Amazing!!!
The second set of rooms, the Nijinski Suite, is done in peaches – dark and light.
THE VILLA AZZURRA:
The next villa, Villa Azzurra has three suites. The restaurant, Pergola, and the lounge, Club Lounge, are also located on this villa’s large terraces.
The first suite, the Downes Suite, is named after the American journalist Donald Downes, a friend of Zeffirelli’s. The suite is decorated in vibrant turquoise blue and white.
The Downes suite bathroom has an amazing collection of apothecary jars filled with turquoise colored water.
The Diaghilev Suite, with its seashell theme, is named after Sergei Diaghilev, the famous Russian ballet choreographer and founder of the Ballets Russes. Diaghilev was a frequent guest at Villa Tre Ville. This suite’s floor is made out of traditional blue and white tiles.
The bathroom is all white and has a tub that sits underneath a shell niche.
The large Massine Suite is named after the ballet dancer Leonide Massine who is the original owner of the nearby Li Galli islands. This suite is one of my favorites – done in a traditional Italian design style.
The bedroom of the Massine Suite. It’s ceilings are painted and the floors are Majolica tiles. The bathroom is through the wood door, down a flight of stairs.
The Massine Suite’s bathroom is down a small flight of stairs below the suite. The floor and shower are made of small mosaic tiles.
THE VILLA BIANCO:
Villa Bianco is one of the largest villas and is where Zeffirelli stayed. The Salone Bianco – a club – is also located in this villa.
An infinity edge swimming pool overlooking the sea is located at the Villa Bianco. Through the double doors is the Zeffirelli suite.
The large Zeffirelli suite has three bedrooms, a living room and a dining room. In the master bedroom, the mother of pearl furniture bought by Zeffirelli in Syria remains just as it was during his time.
The bedroom that Zeffirelli used. Beautiful photograph!
This bedroom located in the Zeffirelli suite has a beautiful tiled floor and fireplace.
The fireplace mantel in the Zeffirelli suite.
Also in Villa Bianco are two more suites: the Callas suite was named after the most famous guest ever to stay – Maria Callas, the opera singer.
The Tosca Suite is the last suite in the Villa Bianco. What a headboard!!!! I really like this bedroom a lot with the crisp blue and white fabrics.
Close up of the sunburst headboard in the Tosca suite.
The Tosca has its own balcony overlooking the sea.
And there is also a small hot tub in the private garden that the Tosca suite shares with the Callas suite. I think I would pick this suite with its own private gardens!
But, the Tosca bathroom takes the cake. The shower is completely open to the balcony and the view. And notice the window behind the sink – with just an antique mirror on the sill. Beautiful!!!
The Villa Tre Pina:
The last villa, the Villa Tre Pini, has five large suites. When Zeffirelli owned the property, there were only three villas, but another – this villa – was added to the property by Russo. Here the Romeo and Juliet is done in reds and pinks. This suite has the best view of the La Galli islands, once owned by Nureyev, but now owned by Russo.
The Aida Suite is all blues and whites.
The shower at the Aida suite has beautiful Carrara marble.
The Turnadot suite is in blues and greens. Its bathroom is also all Carrara marble.
The Carmen Suite is oranges with red. Each room has its own flat screen tv.
I love the Carmen headboard fabric and notice the Italian lamps and lampshades. So cute!!!!
And last, the Norma Suite is reds and grays with playful stripes.
The Bay and Gardens:
The swimming area is down a few flights of stairs. Zeffirelli says he sold the property because his knees couldn’t take it anymore. One of the first things Russo did when he bought the villas was install an elevator . There is no actual beach here – just steps leading into the water.
Nice. Bring me an apple martini please!
Off the swimming area, is the boat dock.
There are pathways leading throughout the property. This one, leading to the boat dock, is under a pergola covered in vines.
The walkway in front of the Villa Bianco.
Flowers next to the brick walkway leading up the Villa Bianco.
This terrace at the Villa Bianco is one of the prettiest on the property. The pergola is so beautiful.
The view from Positano looking at the Villa Tre Ville, encircled in white.
If you are interested in seeing how the villas looked before the remodeling, go HERE for the original sales brochure prior to when Russo purchased the villas. At that time, there were only three villas. I love the way Zeffirelli decorated the villas and wish they still looked that way!! But, it’s a hotel now, not a home. To read the Villa Tre Ville web site, go HERE.
Can you guess who these two are: Yes! It’s Romeo and Juliet all grown up. Juliet, Olivia Hussey, looks exactly the same!!! That’s Leonard Whiting who played Romeo.
BIG GIVEAWAY ON THE SKIRTED ROUNDTABLE!!!!!
We are having a really big giveaway on the Skirted Roundtable. So run over to that blog, www.skirtedroundtable.blogspot.com and check it out!!!!! Hurry!!!!
AND FINALLY, A NEW BLOG DESIGN!!!
As you can probably notice, I have changed my blog after all this time. For the past year, I have played around with different styles and even hired a few blog designers to create something new, but nothing really “sent” me. When I was doing the chandelier giveaway, I fell madly in love with Julie Neill’s new web site HERE and contacted her designer, Nancy Morgan of Morgan Web Design HERE. Within a day or two I had a working template that I really liked and felt that Nancy immediately understood what I wanted – something chic, something clean, something simple! I highly recommend her if you are needing a web or blog designer!!!! We still have a few tweeks to work out here and there, but I was so excited to show it off, I went LIVE a tad early!!! Thanks Nancy for all your hard work.