COTE DE TEXAS: That Villa, Again!

That Villa, Again!


The comedienne Ellen DeGeneres recently wrote a design book – which features many of the houses she and wife Portia have lived in (those houses that were photographed, that is.)

DeGeneres has developed a reputation for being a serial real estate fanatic.  Her house buying and selling keeps gossip writers busy trying to keep up with her lastest transactions.   But, with this book, Ellen seems to relish the attention her house swapping has garnered and she jokes that you shouldn’t invite her over to dinner, she might buy your house from you.

Along with her many Los Angeles houses that are featured in the book, the Santa Barbara villa that she bought from John Saladino is also prominantly featured.


I know, I know!!  I said I wouldn’t talk about the Villa again, but with all these new photographs of it in Ellen’s book,  I wanted to show the Villa as it looks today under DeGeneres’ ownership.

Sue me.

I don’t really understand why I am so obsessed with this house, but I am.  I’ve been under its spell since the first photographs of it were published in a magazine.  Later, in the gorgeous book “Villa” written by John, he documented the torturous, expensive, and detailed restoration of the stone villa.  It is impossible to deny the lure of the house, the estate, and the story of its renovation.   The fact that Ellen, who loves contemporary design, had bought the Italian styled Villa deeply hurt for some odd reason that might be better left to a psychoanalyst to figure out.

If you like mid-century design, you will love Ellen’s book.   It features many of her former and present houses which are all filled with original pieces from that design era, along with much contemporary art and sculpture.   The houses are beautiful to be sure, but most have been seen before.


There’s the former Kelly Wearstler house in trendy Trousdale.


And there’s the Brody house (said to be the most fabulous house in L.A. that the two barely lived in at all.)  She quickly sold this most wonderful house because it was too hard to maintain, being all glass and shiny surfaces.


There’s the huge Beverly Hills estate seen in Architectural Digest that Ellen sold to Ryan Seacrest.  It featured this ping-pong table in the entry.


An aerial view of the Beverly Hills estate that Ellen sold to Ryan Seacrest for a rumored cool $39 million.   On the property there is the 9,000 sq. ft main house, two guest houses, and a separate house.   Ellen purchased two neighbors’ houses to create the large estate and then added extensive gardens including a pond and an orchard.  In the end, they wanted to downsize.


There’s this Horse Ranch that was shown in Elle Decor, with the stables that Ellen decorated like a house for Portia.


There are their two highrise apartments – put together (a dark one for entertaining and a bright one for living in.)  These were also sold after a nanosecond.  This painting shows up in almost every house Ellen has owned, including the Villa.


And finally there is the smaller, Birdhouse, where they now live.  Ellen credits it smaller size and easy maintenance for why they like this house so much.

One issue with the book is that after a while all the interiors tend to blur together because so many of the iconic design pieces show up again and again in each house.  For example, this large Warhol/Basquiat painting seems to pop up on every page:


Of course they wouldn’t throw out their old furniture, but when you are showing so many of your different homes with so much of the same furniture, it gets a bit redundant. 


One house that is missing from the book is the architecturally significant beach house they bought from Brad Pitt (see above) – which they did not, of course, own for very long because they had no privacy there.  The wood carving at the left showed up later at the Villa’s entrance porch.


It’s fun to pick out the pieces of furniture and art and see where they show up in the Villa.  In the Brody House, almost every item in this room above is now in the Villa in Santa Barbara.

At the end of the book there is a treat.  Ellen includes a chapter on each designer she has worked with, along with pictures of their houses.  And, there’s a recap of all the stores she shops at, most of which you will know of – but it’s a nice recap with pictures in case you want to visit L.A. and shop.

And, of course, there’s her humor that she plainly interjects into much of writing, make the prose witty and enjoyable.   The book is not wordy, it’s a very easy and fast read. The photographs are the standouts.

There are a lot of pictures of the Villa (no longer named the Villa diLemma as Saladino called it.)  I will show each picture along with how the same room once looked under Saladino.


The entrance to the Villa.

If you are a fan of Saladino’s Villa and how he decorated it, be prepared to be very, very disappointed.  Besides the new decor which is hard enough to digest,  Ellen does not make ONE, not ONE mention of John Saladino, without whoms direction, aesthetic, and tenacity – there would be no Villa!   She does include his name in the list of acknowledgements, but besides that…


Ellen does talk at length about Wallace Frost who designed the house in the 30s.  She describes how Frost had spent a decade in Italy and then decided to build the Villa to remind him of that country.


Ellen even recounts the trouble Saladino had with the renovation due to the Italian masons who used their own  measurements, different from the original plans.  She repeats this anecdote, again, without mentioning not one WORD about Saladino, the man who bought the ruin, restored it to its original state (and better) and wrote a best-selling book about the house.

Not ONE word!

Since Ellen refuses to acknowledge Saladino in her book, this is my own personal tribute to the man whose fabulous eye, meticulous attention to detail, and boundless energy worked to restore this Villa.   He deserves one final accolade, right?


SALADINO:  The entrance under Saladino.


SALADINO:    The view of the entire entrance designed by John Saladino, with lanterns and sconces, antique chairs and benches, and old urns and pots.


SALADINO:   Looking back towards the entrance, Saladino installed porteries instead of a gate or door,  and he added standing lamps to cozy it up a bit.


SALADINO:  Closeup of Saladino’s fountain with the symmetrical pots of plants.


ELLEN:  Ellen added these iron gates along the entrance to protect her pets, yet allow them fresh air.  Adding these gates makes a huge architectural statement to a house that was meticulously brought back to its original intended state.  So, why?  Couldn’t a solution for the pets be made without making such a huge alteration?  Saladino’s lanterns and sconces are  gone, replaced with contemporary glass pendants.


ELLEN:  Looking back toward the entrance, the new gates are just awful, as are the pendant lights.   But that lamp…that lamp!  I’m sorry, but this looks like a booth at a swap meet, not an elegant Italian villa. 


ELLEN:   An antique Belgian console next to the kitchen door in the entry.   That lamp…oy.


ELLEN:  And, next to that lamp, is this vintage head that looks strangely like Sean Penn.


NOTE:  The Kelly Wearstler/Trousdale house that Ellen once owned, has similar gates to the ones she added to the Villa.  I’m not sure if Ellen added these gates here too, or if she just copied them for the Villa.


SALADINO:  The atrium, outside the entrance – simply furnished, so as not to take away from the landscaping or architecture.


ELLEN:  The same atrium under Ellen, a conglomeration of furniture, meant to attract attention, rather than disappear in the background.  All the furniture has provenance and fancy names.  Nothing came from Porch Furniute Is Us.


SALADINO:   Past the atrium, to the master bedrooms wing.  Again, very quiet, unobtrusive furniture. 


ELLEN:   She chose to use a variety of vintage furniture. Lots of individual pieces.


ELLEN:  The day bed is antique.


SALADINO:  The agave garden.  Saladino’s furnishings outdoors are meant to blend in and be camoflauged.  Indeed, you can barely see the furniture here.


ELLEN:  Here, furnishings outside on the Oriental Carpet garden. You can see her furnishings are a bit more bright and noticeable.  The photography in the book is very beautiful.  Ellen makes some funny quips in the book about this being her favorite outside spot to sit at all day.  But, she then says the same thing about other outdoor spots. 


SALADINO:  A gorgeous view of the Pacific at the pool.  The large, antique column is typical of Saladino’s design principle where he uses oversized and human sized scale in decor.  Notice how small the column looks here.


ELLEN:  A beautiful photograph, again, showing the column, which apparently Saladino left at the house.  Notice from this angle, how much larger the column really is.


SALADINO:  Along the side of the house in the Olive Tree Allee, he set a wood table with wicker chairs for entertaining.


ELLEN:  Ellen used contemporary chairs, and added a lantern, along with another side table.  Just adding more and more and more, when less is really better here.  The trees are just gorgeous.


SALADINO:  The entry way.


SALADINO:  Entering the door – you look out at the Oriental Carpet Garden.  I absolutely love that fireplace and if I lived here (I wish!) I would keep it going 24/7.   I think fireplaces in entrance halls are so romantic, almost as romantic as those in the dining rooms.


SALADINO:  To the right of the front door is the powder room and these stairs that lead up to the guest rooms.  The window upstairs opens to the Juliet balcony that overlooks the atrium.


SALADINO:  This shows the living room, the entry hall with the fireplace on the right, and onto the dining room.   If only the door was open, you would see into the kitchen past the dining room.

ELLEN:  The entry hall.  A large rug covers the tile floor, which I like, although this one looks much too large especially when compared to Saladino’s smaller antique runners.  As usual, there is a mix of furniture, all with fancy names which Ellen recounts in her book.  And here is the Serge Mouille fixture – it was formerly in the Beverly House foyer above the ping pong table.


ELLEN:  Another view of the entry hall, looking into the dining room with its contemporary painting.  Oh, this is really hard to take.  That pedastal.


SALADINO:  The gorgeous living room – one of the prettiest room John ever decorated in my opinion.  It is just beautiful.  The mix of antique styles, the French, the English, Dutch, Italian and Oriental – with all the cool taupes and hot reds, just so pretty!  I especially love the vignette behind the sofa.  Hard to believe there is a piano back there – this room is so much bigger than it seems!    More is more in this instance!


Saladino:  A closer view with different styling and with the Cy Twombly on the right.


SALADINO:  Looking to the other side – the master bedrooms are to the right, in the corner.  You can see the piano here.


SALADINO:   The vignette behind the sofa – gorgeous!  I love this tapestry with the gilt mirror atop it.


SALADINO:  The fireplace with antique andirons.  The gray painting has been owned by Saladino for decades and has moved from house to house from city to country.  In fact, most of his possessions have been owned by him for years.


SALADINO:  The walkway past the living room to the two master bedroom suites.  Another porterie and antique chest.


ELLEN:   I can’t.   I can hardly even look at this.  I am just speechless.  ME speechless!!!!   Jean Royere furniture that she has had for a long time, along with the Warhol/Basquiat painting.  Not sure what the black C is.  It looks like a big emoji.  UGLY.  I guess someone will tell me what it is and I’m sure it is so expensive too.  Not that I care.  At the right is the hanging wire sculpture that has been in many of her houses, by Ruth Asawa.


ELLEN:  The view to the master suites – originally this painting was hanging here, but apparently, it’s been moved.


ELLEN:  Here is the newer view with this painting placed here, along with more mid century design furniture – in an 18th century like Villa.  Go figure.  Seriously – what are those chairs?!?!?!?!!  Those are the ugliest things I have ever seen.    Looks like what my proctologist has in his waiting room.  It also looks like she placed a floral fabric in the master bedrooms hallway?  Why wouldn’t she place a tapestry there?  Nah.  Too easy.


ELLEN:  This vignette was so beautiful, they had to photograph it!   Love the stool.  I have one just like it in my garage, but mine is in better condition.  WTF?!?!?!?  Someone please tell me why this was photographed?  Why this stool?    And is that a lamp?  Snort.


SALADINO:  The master bedrooms hallway – designed by the master, John Saladino.  I love this piece of art.   See, I love contemporary too!  Love this.


ELLEN:   And the same room here, with the Restoration Hardware deconstructed chaise.  No, I’m kidding,  it’s original, not RH, or so they say.


SALADINO:  The dining room, perfection.  Just perfect.  Wouldn’t change a thing!


SALADINO:  A vignette in the dining room window ledge.


ELLEN:   The dining room.  Don’t ask me!!!!!!!  Lots of Italian names that I don’t even care to type here.  It’s UGLY!!!!!!   And Ellen can sue me.  I don’t care!!!!   The strangest thing is the curtains.  They look like the ones that Saladino had in the living room.  Why did she use them?   They are too pretty for her.


ELLEN:  Just what you want to see when you eat, a giant cockroach in bronze!!!!!


ELLEN:   By comparison, a vignette in the dining room.


SALADINO:   The kitchen, with the lovely large white platter that is in the view line – when the door to the ktichen is open, you see that platter against the stone wall all the way from the living room.  It’s the focal point.


ELLEN:  Her focal point?  A large acorn?  Not sure what that is?  Maybe it’s a cockroach pod, you know those seeds you find in the back of a cabinet and you know you have a roach infestation?


SALADINO:  The breakfast room – I love this room, with the antique furniture, the shells, the crystal chandelier.  There’s another photograph of this room in John’s book that is even prettier.  It’s the ying and yang of the rough, dull surfaces with the shiny, reflective surfaces.


ELLEN:  A picture of her breakfast room – looking out toward the Oriental Carpet garden.  And yes, another ugly face sculpture. Isn’t art supposed to be pretty, something you would want to look at?


ELLEN:   Her breakfast room.   Those chairs.   I’m really just speechless.


SALADINO:  Upstairs, there are three guest rooms, including this one. 


ELLEN:  Here is the same bedroom today, which I actually really like. Shock!  Stop the presses!  I like something!!!   The decor blends with the stone walls and wood ceiling.  Very nice and cozy.


SALADINO:  In Betty’s bathroom, John installed this centuries old marble tub he bought in Brussels. 


ELLEN:  What is interesting is in the book Ellen writes this marble trough was original to the house and was turned into a bathtub which is totally different than what John wrote in his book.  Did she or her editors even read his book?   No one?  There’s a section in his book describing how John found the tub and worried if Betty would fit in it – and he fretted about getting the water warm enough for her.  He also wrote about the marble walls and how the marble was chosen to go with the decor in her bedroom.  Very strange that a key item in his book would be so totally wrong in Ellen’s book.


SALADINO:   When you go through the faux refrigerator door in the kitchen, you reach the balcony of this office.  The stairs lead down to this room with the tall ceiling and stone walls.  I love that John used this table instead of a desk.  He has such style!!  It just oozes from him.


ELLEN:  The same office, used by Portia as her painting studio.   The desk gives me giggles. I mean, compare the two desks and explain why one is considered better looking than the other?   Why you would even buy what looks like a school teachers desk from the 30s over a beautiful antique French table?


ELLEN:  A view of the painted stairs.   What a wonderful office!


SALADINO:   Across the atrium is the media room.  Decorated by John, it is a warm, cozy room you would want to spend hours in.


ELLEN:   Her media room with bookshelves along the back wall.  Love the vintage LV Trunk.


ELLEN:  Hard to tell exactly what her media room looks like because there are only vignette shots.


Finally,  Betty’s Garden as this space was once called.  Ellen writes that she loves the Villa and feels at home here.   The house lets Ellen live the way she wants to live: “it’s not overly manicured or tidy” (it used to be!)  nor is it “overly precious or perfect” (I think it is!)   She says the house is spacious and cozy at the same time and she loves exploring it, and it always“surprises” her which is why she hasn’t tired of it yet.  She also says that she doubts she will ever move from here.  Funny, I find that hard to believe judging by her tract record!

The photography in Ellen DeGeneres Home is great and well worth the price of the book.  If you like mid century modern, you will love this book and if you like contemporary L.A. houses, you will love this book.

To order Home, just click on the picture, below.



  1. haha - love this very truthful post :-) I think it's interesting to highlight the befores and after. the problem when you like the before is you'll rarely like the after! everyone has such different 'tastes' or lack of it. I adore Saladino - the man has such style -but I dont' like a lot of his befores. His furniture is a bit too rustic for my tastes and uncomfrotable looking. 'ye olde italian' isn't my thing. Shocking right? me not like old things? I adore the house and his restoration of it -the architecture and gardens were divine. Luckily Ellen seems to have left the building alone and just threw in her own stuff. It's not my tastes either. 50s modern/rustic / ugly art......but at least she didn't ruin the 'backdrop'. Thats the architect in me -i care about the house and not the decoration! lol Since i won't be getting this book I'm glad you shared it with me here. such a great property!

  2. Millennials today think all the old mid century stuff is the bomb.Beautiful, classical design in an old world style is sadly over. Unless you are doing trad wasp. Which I think is awful with all the horrible prints they use.That said, I think she wants to be thought of as young and hip like her tv audience. You know her wife is a young trophy wife. She's got to keep up with that younger generation to stay relevant.. The times change in a blink now a days.

  3. I was totally in LOVE ! with the Villa from the first picture I saw , big John fan . Also I too was horrified when Ellen bought the property WTF !!!! Thank you for posting the before and after Ellen { and I do adore her }. The one guestroom was nice but mot of the other rooms confirmed my fears .

  4. I hope Ellen moves again and soon.

  5. Thank you, Joni, for another amazing post! I loved John's interpretation of what would be best for The Villa...It is always unfortunate when money and taste collide...

  6. You NAILED it!!!! I hope Ellen somehow reads this post or her "people" show it to her...perhaps she would realize how foolish her furnishings look! Is she trying to be funny? It's almost unbelievable after so many of her other projects that she would ruin this house with her tacky decor and taste! Preach it Joni!

  7. What a cryin shame to take something so breathtakingly beautiful to hideously out of place...

  8. I've always wanted a house that has some exposed stone. What I've noted from the before/afters is that it looks best balanced by color and richness. Shelves of books, textiles, luscious colors make the place look warm and cozy. I've previously wondered what was up with Saladino's wall hangings -- squares within squares within squares, held up by strings. Is this his own invention or is this common in Italy or elsewhere? Anyone know? Whatever the origin, if you have the credentials (he does) to make it appear "decorator" rather than "crafts project", one can see that the hangings really soften and add warmth and interest to the stone space. Paintings or mirrors alone (especially if small) get lost against the stone.

    I think there are two problems with Ellen's "after" photos. The first is the style fit of her furniture. While Saladino's Italian look was perfect for the architecture, one can make something more modern work if the pieces are substantial, comfortable, and warm-looking. Ellen's pieces are too spindly and severe -- getting lost in all that stone and looking cheap (despite actual cost). The second problem is the color scheme. While neutrals can work well with one stone accent wall, they are way too boring and cold for four stone walls. Even Saldino's dining room -- as lovely as it is -- could have benefitted with more color (for example, slipcovered chairs). The stone has such a presence that it needs something like color, texture, and rich woods to bring warmth and balance. But avoid orange-y woods, like Ellen's dining room chairs.

  9. loved it. got it. comments made me laugh.YOU are the bomb!

  10. Entirely agree with your post. Didn't like midcentury modern the first time around, like it less this time. What a shame to inject it into that exquisite house.

  11. Tell us what you really think, Joni. John Saladino is, by far, my favorite designer/artist/person of impeccable taste. Villa di Lemma is, by far, my favorite home and property. I want to cry.

  12. What a hoot! Well, Saladino is a MASTER, so it's hard to measure up. Same thing with the Kelly Wearstler house, Kelly's style is wild, but it's brilliant. The Ellen homes have the most horrid rugs.

  13. Agree. Ugh. Makes me want to cry.

  14. Joni, I always love your honesty! Stefan's comments are great as well, from the architects view!
    The before and after are jarring, would you believe, along with the lamps, one of the things that bothers me the most is seeing lamp cords everywhere!
    The Arts by Karena
    Life Lessons: So Honored!

  15. John Saladino created romance at The Villa. It doesn't feel warm, inviting or romantic now. I'm sad.

  16. I'm confused. Do they live in the Birdhouse or the Villa? Both?

    1. They live in the Birdhouse in LA and the villa is their vacation house in Santa Barbara. But,who knows if they still live in the Birdhouse by now. They probably have moved on.

  17. Hi Joni, spot on about the "decor" in the front entrance. When I first saw the photo, thought it was of a back door entrance where junk was stored before carting it off to the trash bin.

    In most cases, great architecture makes up for most so-so design. However, Ellen's "magic" touch has managed to make The Villa look like an old hovel. Shame on her!

  18. What a wonderful post as always. So full of insightful thoughts. As usual, I loved it!

  19. What I don't understand is why she bought the house. If you love mid century modern, why wouldn't you choose more contemporary architecture? Shoveling her furniture and modernist aesthetic into an Italian villa makes no sense. Joni, from what I read, much contemporary art (not necessarily modern art) isn't supposed to be beautiful. Beauty is so boring and old fashioned. When a so-called artist puts his poop in cans and the Tate Gallery buys them for $35,000 each and displays them, we're in a very strange and revolting world. It's poetic justice that after a time the cans exploded.

  20. Hysterical! Spot on! Book your Southwest ticket to LA asap! You are for sure headed to the show!!! Fun!

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  22. Here's my take-away from this study in contrasts, based on sight and not from knowledge of either party: the first designer is grounded, self-confident, respects traditions, feels comfortable in his own space and prefers to contribute to his environment through compassion and quietness; the second designer is uncomfortable with self and feels mixed-matched no matter what others say of her value and consequently identifies with being slightly out of place in a traditional world - even if that world is more beautiful, more peaceful. I'd rather spend time with the former designer - I think he would listen with compassion whereas the latter designer would likely chide with a joke rather than empathize. Ironically, this disregard for the soul of the home, presented by the first designer, likely shows him more valuable in his profession. No wonder your're sad, the villa has gained an occupant but lost a friend who understood her.

    1. Beautifully said; I know John, and you are right about him. The house is now hurting. It is really sad. Heartbreaking, really.
      It was so beautiful, all of a piece. To walk in there was to feel comfortable, calm, and nurtured. This house has a soul. Yes; this house has lost a friend who loved and understood her; and brought her back from the brink of ruin.

      I am relieved the architecture is safe for now. It does look like a bad flea market in there.

    2. "I know John,"


    3. John has been a friend for over 30 years.

    4. Like all your other famous "friends."

    5. John Saladino is a great friend of Penny. My husband and I were at dinner with Penny and Adam and in John walked. The first place he stopped was at our table. He gave Penny a gracious hug and was lovely to my husband and myself. I also know for a fact he has been to her lovely home and has given her great praise on her amazing work. So there anonymous…, class act.

  23. Hi Joni, what a contrast! While I love the Saladino Villa it seems a tad closed in and maybe a bit cold. Ellen has done nothing to brighten things up. The post you did a few weeks back about the Hotel Emma was a wonderful example of using furniture in a large building with stone and plaster. What I got from those photos was the symmetry used in all of the furniture placement and how it pulled things together. Ellen seems to collect and place things with out really thinking where a piece will or should end up. I do like the little breakfast room but old wicker chairs would be so much prettier that the modern leather. Keep em coming Joni....xo

  24. I've been dreading the day when we would see what Ellen did to the villa. Wish she would sell and out of there leave it to someone who would hire John and bring it back to life. Speaking of which, any later updates on what John did in his house he moved into after this move?
    I can't find the post you did I just loved the size of the home perfect for empty nesters.
    Fantastic job Joni you had better diplomacy on this post than I could muster
    Kris in seattle

  25. saladeno is wonderful,the villa is a great book + mid-century,you can have it, it is a trend i would like to say that but i think it is here to stay xx

  26. I do not understand why someone like Ellen DeGeneres with her love of mid century modern and weird artwork would buy this incredibly beautiful estate that John Saladino spent years of his life creating and restoring. She made a mess and you did a beautiful job of documenting that, intentional or not.
    Like you, it bothers me a great deal, even though I know it is her house and she has every right to do whatever she wants to it. The reason for her book, I do not understand. Her houses are poorly furnished and I would not even begin to call them decorated. What a waste!

  27. Joni I love your blog and every post... but I think this is a bit harsh. You always tell your readers that there are real people behind these houses and Ellen, being a TV personality, she is no different. I thought that your delivery was very harsh.. calling things ugly.. etc. It just wasn't like you and almost seems like you have something against Ellen, or that her feelings are not relevant. I don't understand why you want your readers to be respectful of peoples homes and then this?? Marcy

    1. Like I said before, Ellen is a public person, she wrote a book and put her house in it. There's a huge difference between public and private people. If Ellen didn't want anyone to comment on her house, she could have left out the pictures of it. By publishing it, she is welcoming commentary - good or bad. I'm sure she expects some people will love it and others won't. It's not like a person who sends me pictures of her house or someone who is selling their house and the pictures are on the real estate sites. I usually don't go so negative, but I can't be dishonest. No one would have believed me if I said I loved it, or even liked it. There are many many times when something is submitted to me that I don't like it and I dont' put it on the blog for that reason. I do try to mostly show things that I love. Finally, in the end, this is a blog that is meant to entertain, at the very least. If the blog wasn't entertaining, if the blog was boring, no one would read it. I try to write the blog in a way that people will become engaged - agree or disagree with me, write comments, add to the discourse. In that spirit, when I wrote this, I purposely tried to be funny. I don't have a proctologist - I could have said dentist, dr. etc. but protocologist made me laugh out loud. Believe it or not, I sometimes do try to be funny so that the comments aren't just cut and dry.

  28. Let me start off by saying that I never comment about anything, however I felt that some of your comments were really unkind and a bit snarky. Clearly you really loved everything about the house as John Saladino designed it. It seems as if you felt that it was total perfection. That said, any changes made by anyone would be less than perfect in your eyes. That's OK...Ellen's style is not your taste. From a purely objective point of view, there were hits and misses from both parties. I like Saladino's work, but in some ways, his design for this house looked too 'matchy-matchy' to the architecture. Even though this house is a Tuscan inspired is not in Tuscany and doesn't have to remain an homage to that. I think that juxtaposition is oftentimes good and exactly the thing that brings a space into a new time and gives it life and a sense of evolution. In my opinion some of Ellen's pieces worked better than others. I thought that the artwork was a wonderful contrast to the house...and gave it a spirit that it (the house) had evolved over time. I also thought that many of the furniture pieces, though mid century (and mostly European) did work. Among other things, I loved the Serge Mouille fixture in the entrance foyer and I thought the dining room looked fresh and light. Clearly you don't like mid century pieces (or at least most of these pieces) -- That's OK,but simply for that fact alone, does not mean they don't work in this space. At the end of the day, this is a house that someone lives in. As such, it needs to be comfortable and appealing to them. That is why they would choose a 1930s school teacher's desk over a traditional table. I probably would too. To me, this was not ugly --it was just not your taste.

    1. This is so interesting. Saladino's furniture has been in every style home you could imagine. Colonial in the East; contemporary, French, you name it. It isn't only Tuscan; and the Villa didn't feel like an homage to Tuscany. It is a collection of treasures amassed over his lifetime. Many different styles and countries of origin. The book, Villa, is really the most astonishing history of a house grossly mistreated; (the dining room was all painted pink!) and then restored and made lovely again. His instincts about houses are inborn and, in my opinion, genius.
      What doesn't work to my eye is the mixture of things that are incoherent with each other and the house. I.e; (just one of many examples): the dining room orange wood chairs. Scale, color, nothing about them works. Sad. Only one of many dreadful choices.

    2. @bjatmcw, I agree completely. No need to be unkind nor snarky when things aren't to your taste. I wonder why this post was even necessary - Joni has said that she was finished with the Villa, but posts this just to repeat her approval of Saladino and slam Ellen.

    3. no. I didn't write this just to repeat my approval and slam Ellen. I wrote it because of all the new photographs that were published of Ellen's decor that hadn't been seen before. There were parts I liked and I said that. And I don't hate Ellen's style - I don't understand some of it, but I loved the Ranch and wrote very positively about it. I also praised the book on many levels. Still, there was much I just really don't like. the entrance porch...the living room and diningn room...I just don't "get it."

  29. Well, I'm still one who believes that the architecture should lead the interior design. However, this doesn't seem to be how young Europeans feel. Whenever I look at a European publication, the majority of beautiful old buildings have very modern (mostly Italian) furnishings. I don't care for it, but it does seem that the modernists rule at the moment. I suppose it's a reaction to all the heavily carved traditional furniture and the excesses of the baroque which they must see in every villa, manor, castle and stately home that is open to the public. As Saladino displayed so well, you can still incorporate the traditional elements without the pomposity of the grand, while giving it a light, deft hand and adding the juxtaposition of the new and contemporary. I love Ellen as an entertainer and she seems to be a truly caring person. I just don't care for her style. Maybe she reads those European magazines! The only room in the villa I liked was the bedroom you also liked. I'm sure her collections are valuable, but they just don't fit this house. They seemed much happier in some of her other homes. Her mix of mid-century modern, global ethnic, industrial chic, and rustic primitive look jarring and uncomfortable in the villa. The furniture in the living room looks surprised - like it's saying 'how did we end up here?' I also find it strange that she didn't reference Saladino's work at all. But you gotta love Ellen.

  30. Joni, I totally agree with you... and this just makes me SO sad. She has ruined what was one of the most beautiful homes I have ever seen... I too love what Mr Saladino did with this home. And I truly cannot understand why someone would want to take a period work of art and ruin it! As you have shown, there are plenty of mid-century design homes out there. Thanks for all the beautiful original Saladino photos!!!

  31. Ellen's decorating is a travesty against a house that is significantly above her. Ann

  32. John Saladino's decorating reminds me of "adult contemporary" radio: Lionel Richie, Celine Dion, Richard Marx.... Pleasant, inoffensive. Not great.

  33. Waiting for Penelope Bianchi's predictable 17 comments to start appearing. Probably at least five will be "I love the gays!!!! I have let them come into my home!!!" (this from a person who, a quick Google search will show, contributes regularly to anti-gay Republican candidates).

    The rest will be "Everyone must decorate like me! Big shapeless furniture with dowdy, patterned fabrics. That is the only look that is acceptable!!!!!"

    1. Oh! my friend is back! With lies! (what politics has to do with this, I have no clue)!
      I am a Democrat; I have never contributed one dollar to a Republican, nor to any anti-gay candidate.
      Why you take pleasure in insulting me I have no idea. And I have no interest.

    2. Your donations are a matter of public record, Penny. Go to:

      "Penelope W. Bianchi, (Zip code: 93108) $1000 to BUSH FOR PRESIDENT INC. on 5/26/99."

      Do you really need us to explain to you all the anti-gay efforts George W. Bush supported?

    3. One contribution (made in my name; not by me, in 1999) translates as "contributes regularly". I never supported Bush. I do support gays and gay marriage. Always have.

    4. You gave Bush a thousand dollars but you "never supported" him? Please don't talk gibberish Penny. It's undignified at your age.

      You gave money to a candidate who actively worked to prevent gay people from serving in the military, gay people from marrying, and gay people from enjoying the most basic human rights, such as protection from job discrimination and housing discrimination.

      You work in decorating (though you're online so much you must not get any work now). You were in contact with gay men frequently, yet you gave money to a candidate who actively worked to put anti-gay policies into effect. You should be ashamed.

      And please stop denying what is clearly documented. It's a five year old's strategy.

    5. Okay, now I'm confused.

      Why did she say "I have never contributed one dollar to a Republican, nor to any anti-gay candidate"?

    6. A relative of mine donated two thousand dollars to the Bush campaign in 1999; and asked my husband if he could use our names because of the campaign laws limiting contributions. My husband said yes. Unbeknownst to me until today! He happens to be the most wonderful husband; so, he is not in trouble.
      This person (who slams me for some unknown reason)....described me as a person who "contributes regularly to anti-gay Republican candidates". Really? Is that what that makes me? "Regularly"?
      You decide. I am not responding to his/her comments any more.

    7. IF this is true (it sounds contrived), then you and your husband, as well as your "relative," have broken the Federal campaign laws. All three of you could be prosecuted, if a screen shot of your admission is shown to a Federal prosecutor.

      As for whether you contributed to a known anti-gay Republican candidate once or repeatedly: Do you really believe the difference matters morally, Penny? Stop fooling yourself.

    8. To the Anonymous who keeps going after Penelope on this website,
      I have noted your animosity over the last year or so. Unprovoked, personal attacks that have nothing to do with decorating. Uncalled for, bullying, nasty ... and incredibly tiring. While I have no objection to fierce debate over decorating ideas, your petty, snide remarks are stupid and boring. They say way more about you than they could ever say about the person you're attempting to belittle.
      Now you're trying to throw some political mud into the arena. Relevance??? Who cares who anyone supports, or ever supported, or unwittingly supported by proxy? And voting for George Bush makes one "anti-gay"? Huh? There were many reasons to vote (or not to vote) for Bush that have nothing to do with a gay agenda. Maybe gay rights are important to you, and this is how your pick your candidate. I happen to be a woman, and would like to see a woman president. Does that mean that everyone else who votes for a male candidate is "anti-woman"? Please stop bothering this forum with stupid, nasty, and irrelevant comments. I come here to read about decorating, and go over ever comment that's posted. If you have something to say about decorating, I'll happily read it too. If not, don't waste my time and your venom.

    9. Can we leave Penny's political contributions out of this? Please. Enough. Being Dem or Rep isn't a litmus test comment. I love Penny's spirited comments and her enthusiasm is contagious. I know Penny has a thick skin, but please, let's move on and leave politics out of it here. please! thanks!!!

    10. Thank you both. I absolutely love decorating; and decorators! I would never say that a person was a friend who, wasn't. I share my knowledge about the decorators I know; I am not trying to impress anyone in that way. The venom is mystifying to me. That sort of personal attack has no place on this wonderful website. Joni; your research is so thorough and you do such a good job with pictures and comparisons; Thank you so much !!!!

    11. TO ANONYMOUS of JANUARY 15,2016 at 5:34 am...................STANDING OVATION!
      BRAVA!I think YOU spoke for a LOT of us readers!
      I happen to know PENELOPE through BLOGGING and ADORE HER STYLE, her DECORATING and her LOVE of for driving up driveways THAT TOOK GUTS and I LOVE IT!!!I too have done that a few times!IT is because WE have a PASSION for beautiful homes.AN interest to see BEAUTY and LEARN MORE.

  34. Yikes! This post is a bit harsh. I prefer Ellen's decor by far. The original style was very beautiful, but it's much too fancy for me. I wouldn't really describe Ellen's style as contemporary. I think she uses a perfect mix of vintage, antique, and modern, which I guess is more my personal style. I understand why you love and prefer the original house, but Ellen has some great pieces, too, like her collection of Astier de Villatte. I just wanted to point out that some people, including me, would much prefer to live in Ellen's version of the house. I have read and enjoyed your blog for years, and I feel a little alienated by this post.

    1. Agree. I haven't enjoyed Joni's posts as much recently (not enough French/Texas as I believe the site was originally intended). But she is rarely mean spirited. This post is a disappointment. I feel alienated as well, both as a long time reader and as a student of design.

    2. Shannon and Unknown: if this blog makes you feel "alienated" then I would say it's time to up the crazy pills and to seek a new psychiatrist. It's just a blog! Joni is not your mother AND she is not trying resolve the Israel/ Palestine crisis! She is just commenting on Ellen's crappy taste and weird real estate portfolio turnover. Jeeesh! I love Ellen but I don't like her furniture/ expensive chachki's/ tacky artwork and the constant buying and selling of real estate IS weird. There .. I said it!

    3. I agree! I love Ellen, a person I do not know; but admire very much! I just hate her furniture in that beautiful house I have been seeing for years! (I had a tour right after John bought it; with old and dear friends of his.....and then when he finished!) Magic is what that was!!!!

      And years before that; I drove up the driveway pretending I was lost....seeing this beautiful stone the middle of a eucalyptus grove! 40 years ago! What a magnificent thing he created! And, as our architect says....the architecture has been untouched!
      Furniture does no damage!!!

    4. "I drove up the driveway pretending I was lost...."

      I could picture Penny doing this.

    5. You should picture a lot of us doing this. We love houses and decoration -- that's why we come to this blog and that's why we would drive up to get a closer look at a property we find interesting.

    6. PENNY! I love this! Pretending you were lost = how many of us have done the same exact thing. "Oh excuse me, is this Rosie O'Donnell's house? I'm having lunch with Rosie today. What? Ellen? Ellen DeGeneres? NOOOOOOO!!! I must have looked up the wrong female commedienne's address! My bad! Let me just back up and turn around. Wait. Do you know where Rosie does live?????"

  35. Joni is a good-natured, well-intentioned blogger who puts a ton of effort into her posts, but she's not educated in 20th century furniture and interiors. She doesn't like it, so she doesn't try to educate herself in it.

    She's like the person who says "I don't understand Faulkner, so he must not be any good."

    But I agree with her that Ellen didn't have a lot of luck pairing her '40s French furniture and Saladino's Faux Villa architecture. Jean Prouvé was a thousand times the furniture designer that John Saladino is, but Prouvé's pieces look awkward here.

    Ellen should have stayed in the "Ping-Pong table in the entry" house.

    1. Odd post. I thought design was a visual business -- something either appeals or doesn't appeal to you. But now it's a question of "education"? If only you were educated (indoctrinated?) enough, you would like something? Sounds a bit shallow and sad. So if someone told you that "poop in a can" art was a very important contribution to the Art World and that it was exhibited in the prestigious Tate Museum, you would run out and buy it because now you are educated...

  36. ELLEN RUINED IT...............BOTTOM LINE I couldn't agree with you more.

  37. What an amazing coincidence! I have not read your blog since the last time your opinion about this villa appeared. The harsh, judgmental tone left me uninterested in reading any new posts. This evening I accidentally clicked on your blog from a list on another site. When I saw the topic, I decided to see if possibly you had adopted a kinder attitude. It is possible, afterall, to disagree with someone's decorating choices (among other things) wihout putting oneself in such an unflattering light. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

    1. Gosh .. what a bunch of pollyanna cry babies!

      If you know any thing about Joni, her aesthetic and this blog, then you would understand why she has an affinity for this house and the prior owner's design choices. And rightfully so. The house was a masterpiece before Ellen ruined it.

      Go back to your pathetic boring lives and don't read the blog. We won't miss you or your comments!

      Keep up the good work Joni.

    2. Good one!

  38. Replies
    1. OK. OK. Look,if you read my blog, you would know that I rarely go negative. I try not to. actually in real life I am much more cynical and critical abt. design but I try to rein that in on the blog. Sometimes, my a negative opinion leeches out. BUT = Ellen is a public figure. She wrote a book. There is no reason why I can't be critical of the book, of which this house is a big part. I could lie. I could not talk about it. But, this is a blog, not a magazine and this is my opinion. Do I think Ellen would care what I said? Not in a million years. I'm sure she would absolutely hate my house. She's welcome to write a blog story critiquing it anytime she wants.
      And finally, after almost 9 years at blogging, I think I can write a few stories here and there without a filter. You may disagree. I can't imagine how boring it would be if I was only positive 24/7.

  39. OMG probably the most disappointing parts is that she does not mention Saladino anywhere in the book, and take credits as if she had the idea of the house. Seems that she just threw in her furniture-
    I love how you write, it makes it really more interesting to read!, I love your honestly and please do it again!

    1. Thank you. very much. Yes, the absence of John's contribution was shocking to me, to say the least, though she did include his name in the acknowledgements. In a long line of names. Shocking.

    2. John honestly took a ruin......and it was a ruin.....and restored it to a masterpiece! Regardless of the furniture put into it; unless someone changes the structure and the colors of the stone; and the old vines and will remain a masterpiece.

      I hope and think that Ellen will not do this. I think she will keep the house the way it is; the garden the way it is. Live among it with her things....happily. That is her right....and I wish her well! It is an exquisite house; regardless of the furniture!!! Exquisite!

  40. Joni,
    You crack me up!! I love your Blog and follow it avidly. Your comments are spot on and I learn so much from reading your commentary and suggestions. I agree completely about the loss of character, charm and continuity at the Villa. You are not "putting yourself in an unflattering light" (response above) but expressing your opinion, taste and considerable knowledge in a very entertaining and forthright manner. We live in America. We can agree to disagree. How wonderful you have sparked all of these responses!

  41. I think this is by far my favourite post. So true and spot on the ugly, you had me in giggles.

  42. Joni, I always appreciate your posts that have taken time effort and thought. I love your opinions even if it may differ with mine but isn't that the fun? I don't see any sark or harshness. You're hardly the Donald trump of decor analysis! Ellen just has decor ADD and a compulsion which in itself is ripe for analysis. I just enjoyed looking at all the comparisons.

  43. too harsh. It would have been interesting to hear the comments if you would have kept silent about your opinion. How many would like the juxtaposition of modern and ancient vs. the romance of Saladino? We'll never know. For the record - I like Saladino. But I also enjoy others perspectives. It's what makes the world go round.

    1. This is strange. Why would I write a blog - and keep silent? How could I even do that? Why would I? There are many, many blogs that put up pictures and dont add a word of commentary. that's fine for them, but why would I bother? The day I keep silent is the day I am not blogging. Honestly - I don't undestand what you mean here. And I did exactly what you said - "how many would like the justaposition of modern and ancient vs. the romance of Saladino? We'll never know." BUT = that is exactly what I DID! I juxtaposed the two rooms - the modern vs the classic. "It would have been interesting to hear the comments...." That is exactly what the Comment Section is for. And that is why I have never edited my comment section. I must be missing something here? Maybe I am not understanding what you mean?

    2. It was a bad comment. I'm sorry for this post.

      After I clicked publish and walked back to the bathroom to get ready for work, God reminded me of a party I had last summer. Our friends had recently moved to the Heights and my husband was grilling in the backyard. My girlfriend was describing their remodel. She told me that they had removed the original 'drafty' windows and replaced them with Pella's. I was instantly heartbroken and PISSED. I heard myself say "You took out those rolled-glass windows? Why would you buy one of the few antique houses left in Houston and then destroy it's character?"

      As soon as I said it, I was mortified. I apologized, but my opinion was obvious and 'harsh'. My friend, (who loves me) laughed and now calls me 'the crazy architecture lady'. For what it's worth, "been there" "done that". I apologize for my condescending post.

    3. oh thanks! i was just wondering how I could keep quiet on my own blog. you are from HOuston? I love the Heights. I probably would have said the same thing about the windows. Pella are pretty too, though. ha! Expensive though!!! thanks again for this. much appreciated.

  44. I really enjoy your blog, Joni. The effort, detail and thought you put into every post make your blog a delight to read and it is a visual treat as well. You should feel free to express your opinions as you see fit, but don't be surprised by the push back when it comes. I've given quite a bit of thought to this post and to the previous one which deals with similar issues. The question is, what is appropriate and appealing when we decorate our homes? Like you I am drawn to beautiful old things and have a passion for architecture, beautiful spaces and fabrics. But one day I woke up and looked around my living room and thought, this place looks like granny lives here. My English mahogany, Chinese rugs and pretty China were lovely but I realized they didn't reflect me or my family. It looked like people wearing hoop skirts should sweep into these rooms, not me in my black jeans and t-shirts. From that point I started to think about how to bring some modernity into my spaces. I studied designs by Vicente Wolf and Darryl Carter who I think have nailed the modern mix. In Carter's work, mahogany and walnut antiques are made new with white and neutral upholstery and minimal decoration. Wolf brings photography, modern art and global objects d'arfs to create a stimulating mix. Saladino is magnificent but just slightly too stuck in period Tuscany in his Villa. It looks like a super suave Italian wine merchant lives here with his inherited stuff. That doesn't describe most of us. That's why I applauded when Pam Pierce changed tack and brought some nuance to the Houston look. Most Texans are not Marie Antoinette or Carl Gustav. Isn't it jarring when American teenagers start running through these spaces with their leggings and running sneakers? In Pierce's new living room you can imagine a teen perched on that modern cardboard chair, strumming a guitar. In Ellen's Villa there is an interestinand dynamic mix. Some objects fall flat but no, art is not meant to be pretty. This art of mixing is not easy. Anyway, thanks for giving us so much to think about.

    1. Funny, my grandma's house was filled with mid century modern. When ever I see modern, I think a grandma lives here. In fact, estate sales are often filled with "modern" furniture.

  45. I love this comment - and I think almost everyone who is a bit older feels exactly like this. especially those who have inherited furniture. I love what you said about Daryl Carter, I love his new house, btw. He uses the dark antiques mixed with the white and it all looks so fresh. And yes, Saladino has antiques, but notice how modern his art is - he had that Cy before he was so chic. Art doesn't have to be pretty, I get that of course. I know that. But at the same time, it doesn't have to be so ugly. LIke I said - her entrance porch looked like it was set up for swap meet. Just because it's mid century doesn't make it right.

  46. I agree. Too much mid-century and it looks like we should be running around in beehive hairdo's and saddle shoes. Forget decor that looks like a period stage set and make it real. I think we are on the same page.

  47. I cannot believe the blog I've just read. The hatefulness, meanness and viciousness are appalling. Joni, you seem to forget Saladino left this house for another owner to move into and make their own. How boring would it be if we all had the same taste? After reading this rant of yours I believe YOU are the one that needs the psychoanalyst. And the language..."WTF?!?!?!?", you are seriously just being downright ugly and mean. I don't believe Ellen has to SUE you, I believe you've hurt yourself enough. I for one will never read or inquire about anything that has to do with you. NOT ONE WORD!

    1. bye felicia .. good riddance!

    2. omg. too funny. I read this comment in my emails and had to come see why you said it. WTF? What the flip? omg - oh my gosh? What is wrong with What the Flip?

    3. I think "What the flip" is wonderful!! And funny!

    4. In WTF, the F is generally assumed to stand for the other four letter word. I think that's why the poster was surprised.

    5. A great life lesson! "Never assume anything!!!" WTF means whatever you think it means....Joni means....."what the flip"!!!

  48. This made me laugh. I especially liked your comment about that piece of sculpture looking like Sean Penn. Have a great w/end!

  49. Replies
    1. I tried. I mean, this is Ellen after all.

  50. Thought I should explain my comment after reading the previous comments. I meant that what Ellen did to this beautiful house is a mess! Everyone has their own opinion! And thank you for the wonderful pictures! I always enjoy your posts!

  51. Thanks for keeping' 'em honest, honey. Maybe she should find a bust of El Chapo to place near "Sean Penn." Maybe design should be left in the hands of designers.

  52. it DID look just like Sean! did you see it??

    1. I know, hilarious! Looks just like Sean. I laughed so hard at that since it does look just like him. He should own it!

  53. Reading this blog post I kept thinking, "WoW! I don't like much of Ellen's selections either but why SO RUDE and INSULTING about it?" And you write afterward that that was your attempt at HUMOR- really? I think your "humor" fell as flat as YOU think Ellen's decorating choices did.
    Design IS SUBJECTIVE. Think how many might think YOUR taste is horrific. Being so -nasty- to drive their (your) point home is unnecessary and purely CLASSLESS- and certainly lowers the "admiration" I HAD for your gift of, and design education.
    BUT- it is YOUR blog. Snark away if that makes you feel good!

  54. It did look just like Sean Penn! Love it if you would do a review of the sets for the movie "The Best Offer"

  55. Although I prefer the look of the house as it was under Saladino, I don't feel that Ellen ruined it. Once a house changes hands, it is out of the hands of the old owner. She has her own taste and I am not put off by it. I think it would have been really strange for Ellen to buy all his furniture, etc. and keep it the way it was when someone else lived there. I also really like that she takes her furniture with her and puts it in different settings. That shows that the furniture and art, whatever anyone else thinks of them, really do mean something to her. And while I don't advocate meanness, the frank, honest and fun tone of Joni's writing is what makes reading this blog interesting (in addition to the thoughtful thoroughness of the posts). I think the conversation comparing the two looks is interesting.

    1. Yes....Joni's frank honest what keeps us all coming back! BRAVA Joni! You are brave and smart!!!

      Thank you!!!

    2. All of a sudden: (I don't think has anything to do with me; Joni is being attacked!) BACK OFF.....DON'T READ IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT!J
      JONI HAS A POINT OF VIEW and a great grasp of different styles......way better than most!! Her research is such a gift.

      If you don't like it...leave....there are plenty of other blogs with milque-toast decorating...beige....ordinary.

      Joni is the only blog that gives you true research in great decorating. If you don't like criticism....leave.....

      Joni...brava......your blog posts are so beautifully researched......and I treasure your opinions!


    3. Thank you those who deleted your angry and ugly posts! Bravo!

  56. I really find your comment fascinating....and correct in many ways. I live right near this property. I need to add....There was an owner in between John Saladino.....and Ellen. A nice man...(an acquaintance here in Montecito) bought the house from John.

    His name is Tom Ferguson. He bought it; for 14 million dollars; and declined to buy everything in it.... He got a call 9 months later that Ellen wanted to buy it. Tom sold it 9 months later to Ellen for 26 million dollars. No furniture included.

    Ellen bought it "unfurnished" . And you have Joni has beautifully shown us all.....what it looks like now! Ellen did not decline to buy the furniture!! Tom did!!!

    That is the story! It is mostly public record. It is the story of "Villa DeLemma" An exquisite house if ever I have seen one!

    (I was about 18 when I first drove up that driveway and pretended I was "lost" 50 years ago! It is an exquisite restoration of an exquisite house.....I am so happy that the restoration of the house is staying intact. I think it will continue! fingers crossed!

  57. Joni! You are so nice! I was 18; and so so curious about this "stone house" beyond the trees.......I just drove one confronted me at that house....I did it all over Montecito and Pasadena...I would just say..."is this 1228" if I encountered anyone! I never mentioned a name....There were rarely gates nor "names" in those "good old days"! I saw some of the greatest houses and grounds in those high school days! Even college.....even beyond......I confess.....I learned a great deal about landscape and houses driving up driveways!!!! Lucky me!
    I admit it!

  58. In Europe modern furniture and decor is often used in ancient (truly old, unlike this villa) homes very often. You don't know or appreciate this, because you only look at certain books and images where the art is "pretty" and you won't travel. I have actually loved your blog for a long time, nobody researchers like you do, but I have always been struck by the fact that you don't ever actually travel to France, given the name of your blog, and this post highlights how very one dimensional and unaccepting your personal taste is.

    1. Actually, Joni has commented on ultra modern and contemporary furnishings in older homes in previous posts. I too, have personally seen this in Europe and for the most part, I don't particularly care for it. However, I am not a purest or a lover of over the top period furnishings. Does this make me one dimensional?

      I would like to point out, like other people have, that this is Joni's blog, and to that end, of course would reflect her personal taste. What else would you expect? This isn't an objective news briefing. It's Joni reflecting/ advising on design, with her french influenced bias. And for the record, Joni has an appreciation for contemporary furnishings ... just not the crap Ellen fills her house with. I mean seriously, dental office chic is vile!

      Maybe she hasn't travelled to France. Whoopdy do! Her followers (me included) appreciate her research, wit and fabulous taste. Perhaps we can start a go fund me page to send Joni to France? Will her commentary then be more legit?! (that was my attempt at humor .. Joni does it MUCH better though).

    2. Honestly - my husband is very sick and is in no position to travel. I used to travel much more than I do and have been to Europe several times. But no, I can't travel now while Ben is sick. Hopefully he'll get better and things will change for us.

  59. I liked this post! I enjoyed your honesty, humor, all the photo comparisons. We are talking about Ms DeGeneres, multi-multi millionaire celebrity who goes through houses as if they were a dime a dozen and touts herself as (of course not openly - its implied) as some sort of cutting edge hipster design/art collector. Ugh. All I can say is thank goodness she has not ruined the structure, the architecture of the villa seems intact. And, I second the others who say - anonymous needs to get off Penelope - we like her here, I enjoy her true love and knowledge of decorating and design and I find her comments uplifting!

  60. Ellen's interiors are so contrived. Striving to be "cool". Love Ellen, detest her taste.

  61. Joni, I think you are spot on in your assessment.

    I have Ellen's latest book and no matter why type of house she had/has, ALL of her mid-century furnishings follow her.

    Of course you should use your existing furnishings in your new home, but Ellen doesn't seem to edit what she takes and what she should put in storage.

    Unfortunately, I think she misses the concept of keeping the integrity of the building style by coordinating the furnishings with the style of house.

    Gina from The Midwest

  62. I haven't been on this blog in a while, but after reading a few recent posts, I am wondering whose blog this is now? Joni or Penelope? The Ellen post did not bother me too much as it's very obvious that Joni doesn't care for her style, and she's welcome to her own opinion like the rest of us. However, as she said that Ellen's book is public, and therefore open for discussion - positive or negative - I must say I am bothered by the snobbish, and condescending comments made by Penelope. It's a very elitist attitude in what I thought was a very approachable blog. Referring to certain stores as rubbish, and terrible. I know people who can't (or won't) afford RH, which is definitely not a discount store. I'm sorry, but the average Joe reader of decor blogs can only afford so much. Not all of us have a magazine worthy mansion in California. Don't alienate your demographic - I'll bet that most of them have at least one piece in their homes from one of those rubbish stores.

    1. In my opinion, RH is neither rubbish nor terrible. I buy from them often. I am not elitist nor condescending nor snobbish . I do not "have a mansion".
      I think furniture should be appropriate to the house it is in.
      My philosophy is to mix things; in a cohesive comfortable manner.

  63. Just because something costs a lot doesn't also mean it is in good taste and appropriate for the setting. Ellen's "stuff" would have looked better and seemed more appropriate in a more contemporary setting.

  64. Joni, I have to honestly say that I had to hold back a few days before I posted my comment. I was shocked to see how you commented about Ellen's new book and her sense of style Oddly, Architectural Digest listed her book in the top five decorating books for 2015. I went to the book store and looked at all of them and came home with Ellen's book. I found it very refreshing and her sense of style young and modern. She showed how to fit younger pieces within dark, traditional rooms. I found it very inspiring. I love the way she used modern light fixtures within the space. I loved the new gates. I also loved that she was not afraid to take her best loved pieces with her and incorporate them into her new surroundings. I believe in recycling and in using what you love. Any designer can take a home and fill it full of the "perfect" furniture but can you take what I already own and love and make it work in the new space? Expecting a home to direct the type of furniture used is unrealistic in today's world. As much as I love French design it's the same bland colors all the time, the same drab linens, and furniture over and over again. The way you're thinking a Renoir or a Cezanne can only be hung in a room decorated in that era. How boring.

    1. i said it was a good book. but i mean, truthfully, it's just not my style though i really loved the horse farm and i do like her houses. i just hate how she decorated the villa. i hate it. just because architectural digest loves something doesn't mean i should. but thanks for expressing your opinion. everyone has different tastes. nothing wrong with that. also, i was trying to be funny too. it's a lot of tongue in cheek.

  65. NoraC - I like your perspective and most of your commentary but I'm not sure why you are shocked? Like you, Joni had an opinion and expressed it. She doesn't get Ellen's style. Big whoop!

    Joni - please move on to your next post .. this is getting boring ..

    1. I was shocked because I've never seen one of Joni's posts attack another designer so vehemently. There are a lot of designer books out there that cover different decorating styles. If it's not her style why bother reviewing the book. Bad manners, I guess. If you can't say anything nice. . .

    2. What makes Ellen a designer, the fact that she has the $$$ to buy whatever she wants? I do not consider her a designer, just a celebrity with a butt load of cash! There are a lot of designers who do the mid-century modern mix better! She does have access to a large audience, but I' m not holding my breath that her book becomes a classic in the design world!


  66. I found this post very interesting, for different reasons than most of you. I'm not a design person or an architect; I'm a shrink trying to learn about different designs and homes. What I like about Joni's posts are that she usually gives a reason WHY something is "off" or why she doesn't care for it. I can learn from that. In this post, Ellen's choices are called out but with no rationale except that it is modern or ugly. I am (once again, by the way) left not knowing the particulars of a judgement. I am paralyzed when trying to furnish my own space because I don't know WHY something works or doesn't. I am left to think that even among designers, there is no true North. How is a person to choose?
    And I have to remark on the statement that Ellen's doorway "looks like a swap meet." You people need to go to a swap meet and really SEE what that looks like, 'cause that doorway does not meet that criteria.

  67. I am a longtime reader and must admit that I am disappointed in this post. Your over the top adoration of Saladino has brought out some very negative commentary about someone with a different design aesthetic. Someone could do the same to you, citing how your interpretation of pseudo French design smacks of Epcot's version of France at Disney World.

    A bigger concern are Penny's comments...they are becoming increasingly manic. When you look at the time stamps and the repeated comments such as "brava" or the continual admonishment of other's comments because they don't see that "Joni is the best designer in the whole world," etc. show how overly impulsive she is. She honestly sounds like she is obsessed with all things Côte de Texas. I am not trying to provoke Penny...I truly think she needs help.

    1. I admire Joni's blog! Her research and efforts! "The best designer in the whole world"? Huh?
      I love the blog; not obsessed with it!
      You confuse enthusiasm with manic; but thanks for your concern.

    2. Penny, take a break from coming here for a couple of days and then go back and read the your comments from the last two posts...Design Trends and this one. Note the time of day and the frequency of your posts and your comments about Joni. It's very telling.

      After you reread them, think why people think what you consider enthusiasm is symptomatic of manic depression/bipolar disorder.
      You certainly exhibit some overly compulsive behavior at the least. Please take my suggestion seriously and spend some time reflecting.

    3. So Penny's a little cray cray ... most designers are. Have you ever met a "sane" designer? It's the cray cray that facilitates their design and ideas. Let's just focus of design please.

      Joni for President.

    4. I resent Penny being referred to as "cray, cray". This is a blog about architecture and these hurtful anonymous comments have no place here.

    5. Please stop. No more comments about Penny. I don't like it. It's just not nice. She's a friend of mine and I think this is really rude now. Just stop. ok? Let's move on to the new post!!!

    6. DO note there is a BIG time zone difference!I do believe the BLOG posts the time in the STATE where it was written.
      Off to read the NEW POST!

  68. It's so easy to post negative, nasty comments while hiding behind "Anonymous". Put your names where your mouths are or is it that your all too fragile and your skin too thin to take the responses directly to your face and for everyone to see?

    1. Good for you. It's easy to be so noxious hiding behind "Anonymous."

  69. Wow, as always you dealt with it ALL and I know design is subjective so I love your take on all of this!! Stick to your guns, Joni! Your opinion is worth a lot and I know if I had your approval on a design I would feel as if I had arrived!!

  70. Using modern furnishings in a rustic or vintage building can be wonderful as long as the furniture has substance to it. Most mid century modern pieces are too spindly, light weight looking to counterbalance ornate or stone walls. I think that's why many of Ellen's pieces look out of place.
    By the way, I like the addition of the iron gates to the porch area.

  71. John Saladino is a genius. His home is remarkable. I wouldn't change a button! But he SOLD his house. It was his choice. He made a lot of money. The house belongs not to a world famous decorator but an entertainer who loves homes. She is not a decorator. Her decorators are not Johm Saladino. So Ellen has the money to buy the house and decorate it any way she chooses. It may not be any of our taste but we don't own it. You have the money? You buy it? You decorate it any way you want. I've seen many old divine homes remodeled and ruined after they were purchased. Now a days in Los angeles, A home is purchased and immediately torn down. This is the right of the buyer. I may not like it but it's not up to me. As too the vitriol going on. Commenters should not be ganged up on. Not fair. We're talking houses not the leadership of the world.

  72. I agree somewhat that there were a few too many vignettes within the book and not enough of the entire space. And I have to say that I was a little disappointed in the direction of the Villa because the horse ranch they had owned prior to this was a truly wonderful project and showed a real sense of actual living as opposed to styled rooms. But, hey it's their money and their decision. The thing about moving house so often but wanting it to feel like a home is that you find things you love, things that have memories and stories attached to them and they travel with you like old friends. Having said that "things" are not important in the way that people are, but when you have a home you surround yourself with things that you have collected and they make it home. It's only natural you would hold onto things you have attachments with and the pieces they had in the mid-century homes do look very different in the Villa, but if it makes it feel like home to them then that is really the only thing that matters. Last thing the layouts in the book are very edited for the "architectural look", I'm sure in the day to day living it feels more accessible. Like the spread in Elle Decor at the horse ranch, it too was very styled, but the real estate listing photos that came later showed a much softer looking environment and you could truly see yourself living there. John Saladino created a wonderful architectural masterpiece, Ellen has made her own interpretation of the space with the things she loves. I would have liked to have seen some fun fabrics, a bit more colour, and shown the house as it is lived in with pets and food and friends. I think Kathryn Ireland should have a crack at it next!

  73. AHA!! Now there's an idea! I agree with your philosophy!