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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a dream of a house, a dream of a book
When the songwriter and singer Curtis Mayfield was at a low point in his career, he made sure he went to the movies every day. Why? "It's important to dream," he said.

Wise man. The "reality" we're sold in the media can't possibly define the limits of our lives. To think so is to invite despair. So we look for beauty, for inspiration. But when we find it in...
Published on September 17, 2009 by Jesse Kornbluth

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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice, not great.
Villa

As other readers have noted, this is an attractive book depicting a beautiful property. My comments relate to the things I would like to have known before buying this rather expensive book.

First, there is an excess of outdoor scenes. The garden and surrounding flora, while nice enough, did not seem so remarkable or spectacular as to justify...
Published on June 24, 2009 by James M.


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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a dream of a house, a dream of a book, September 17, 2009
This review is from: Villa (Hardcover)
When the songwriter and singer Curtis Mayfield was at a low point in his career, he made sure he went to the movies every day. Why? "It's important to dream," he said.

Wise man. The "reality" we're sold in the media can't possibly define the limits of our lives. To think so is to invite despair. So we look for beauty, for inspiration. But when we find it in museums, in music or in books, it doesn't always speak to us --- it's not immediate enough, we don't have the vocabulary to process it.

A beautiful house? That we can understand. We may not get the subtleties of the architecture or the décor, but we all have walls, windows, floors and furniture --- comparisons are inevitable and immediate.

If you're going to look at a home of a professional, you can't go wrong with John Saladino, America's most gifted architectural designer. (Not "interior" designer --- Saladino has a large, holistic sense of what a house can be, and that very much includes its site.) In 2001, he bought a 2,500-square-foot villa near Santa Barbara that was well on its way to ruin. Four years later, it is a treasure and then some --- it's simply one of the most beautiful houses in the world.

And now it's the subject of a dream of a book.

Villa is 13.5 inches square. It contains an informative and chatty commentary by Saladino, 256 photographs, plans and drawings, and a DVD that gives you a tour of the house and property. Let us hope that Saladino has a state-of-the-art security system, because every page and image is an invitation for you to break in --- not to take anything, just to experience what it's like to walk in beauty.

"Reality is the enemy," Saladino writes, and so he created an environment that might look natural, but is really sculpted. (The project, he says, was "75% construction, 25% decoration".) Set on a hilltop overlooking the Pacific, he first had to shore up the land, so his creation wouldn't go sliding off its moorings in a landslide. Then he had to attack decades of unfortunate decorating choices.

It took six men a year to sandblast the paint off the stone walls. Terra cotta tiles had to be hand-stained, so they wouldn't look like plastic flooring. Beams were hand-stripped. An amusing touch: Saladino asked the workmen to have a few beers before they started to sand the dining room walls --- he didn't want perfection.

This was a giant construction product, with as many as 40 workers on site each day. The transformation took four years --- twice as long as Saladino had predicted --- and cost three times more than he'd budgeted. "I did make it to dry land," he writes, "but only by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin."

Saladino's design truths can be applied to smaller houses --- and smaller budgets. Among them:

"Every home should be a sanctuary: entering it you should immediately feel physically and emotionally protected."

"The most important thing about color is that it cannot be isolated --- every color is only ever seen in juxtaposition with other ones."

"Any fragments from the past, especially those that you can touch, connect you to the makers of those pieces, making you aware that we are threads in a great tapestry of time."

"Make the largest piece of furniture in the room the same color as either the floor or the walls so its bulk doesn't intrude."

This is not stuffy advice. But then the house, for all its beauty, is strikingly relaxed. And there are a few well-placed jokes. On a statue of Sir Francis Drake, arguably the first Englishman to see the California coast, he set a pair of dark sunglasses. And, to puncture any air of self-importance, he named the retreat Villa di Lemma.

There is no dilemma, of course. In his California home, John Saladino solved every design and decorating problem. The only unhappiness he created is on your coffee table --- all your other books will be wildly jealous of "Villa".
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice, not great., June 24, 2009
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This review is from: Villa (Hardcover)
Villa

As other readers have noted, this is an attractive book depicting a beautiful property. My comments relate to the things I would like to have known before buying this rather expensive book.

First, there is an excess of outdoor scenes. The garden and surrounding flora, while nice enough, did not seem so remarkable or spectacular as to justify the approximately 95 photos devoted to them.

Second, I would like to have seen more full-room views of the villa's interior. Most of the interior photos were chopped-up views of the rooms and small vignettes. Nevertheless, the photographic quality is excellent.

Third, the villa was much smaller than I had expected and not many rooms are shown. In my opinion, the interiors were DC (Designer Correct) and understated to avoid criticism for any possible form of excess. Nothing to really complain about, but nothing to write home about either.

Fourth, the artsy quality of the DVD was overdone (eyeball-distorting selective focus and lots of infra-red.) The sound balance was poor...when adjusted to listen to the narrator the volume of the background music was ear-splitting. Finally, the DVD content was disappointingly about 90 percent outdoor landscape/10 percent villa interior.

The book probably rates 3.5 stars but that option is not offered. It is a nice book but, primarily because it featured trees and bushes more than the villa, it did not merit 4 or 5 stars in this reader's opinion.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is SICK!, May 14, 2009
This review is from: Villa (Hardcover)
I work in a bookstore and we are all drooling over this fabulous book. I have seen many decorating books but this one is really special. No matter how thick or thin your wallet is anyone could incorporate elements of John's style (get a few grey/green succulents and make a chic planter for under 20$!). If your taste is traditional or modern each is represented amazingly. Must have this book NOW!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My New Favorite, March 26, 2009
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This review is from: Villa (Hardcover)
Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful! I can't stop looking at the book. Every time I open it, I see something new. It is a delight for the senses. The dvd is a gorgeous piece of art - I just wish it was longer and covered more of the interior. Even though most of us will never live at such a level, I can admire it for it's subtlety and incredible beauty. What an achievement!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantabulous!, July 21, 2009
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This review is from: Villa (Hardcover)
I am thrilled with this book! It has stunning photographer and interesting commentary by the author by Saladino himself. The CD that is in the back of the book is a film traveling up the long driveway to give you a feel for the setting and features gorgeous cinematography of the exterior and interior as well. A bit pretentiously presented but anyone who enjoys the restoration of an old home complete with furnishings and art will eat this up. I still peruse through this one though I bought it months ago. A great coffee table book!!

Dwayne
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful !!!, May 16, 2009
This review is from: Villa (Hardcover)
A beautiful book !!! Very much like Bunny Williams' An Affair with a House, Saladino transformed a California Ranch into a genuine Provence Bastide- a sort of a Manor House in the french countryside. He was careful enough in his restauration plan not to interfere with the house architectural features and the interior design to, with careful chosen pieces fitted in harmony with the house fixtures. He done the landscapes beautifully also !!! It worth the ride !!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars villa desire, June 7, 2009
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This review is from: Villa (Hardcover)
As always Mr. Saladino delivers. His philosophy for beauty (and life) is well reflected in this book. Bravo.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best interior decorating book of 2009, December 25, 2009
By 
J. Landau (Orinda, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Villa (Hardcover)
This is unquestionably the finest interior decorating book of 2009 and because it shows the process of renovating a run down Santa Barbara home of great potential, a great book on architectural preservation as well. It provides a thorough and easily understood commentary about the process of planning and executing the design of a gorgeous villa looking out on the sea, including line drawings on translucent sheets, much like blueprints, but primarily utilizing brilliant before and after photos, room by room.

Is an entire book about a single home really reasonable? It was done fairly well by John Stefanidis and a little less well by Bunny Williams, but John Saladino has outdone them all. Just as you could always tell a room by David Mlinaric, Mario Butta, Renzo Mongiardino or David Hicks, Saladino has a signature design style, unlike other decorators such as Billy Baldwin, Sister Parrish or Mark Hampton who were consistent principally in their emphasis on comfort and classicism. Some might have differing opinions regarding this latter group, of course, but Saladino loves classic authenticity combined with modern functionality and certainly achieves an excellent balance here.

Importantly, this project permitted Saladino to achieve the zenith of his own particular style of Mediterranean-influence classicism, in no small part due to not having to get client approval for any element of his masterpiece. I suspect his banker was the only one he had to answer to; this is the dream home for anyone seeking the Montecito lifestyle. And so much more tasteful than the vast majority of the McMansions completed pre-2008 in Greenwich or the Hamptons by guys selling bonds or exploiting Bolivian miners while their trophy wives argued over fabric swatches.

The only reviewer on these pages who gave the book less than five stars complained about how in this age of digital photography, large format shots are no longer available. Excuse me? Razor sharp images with perfect color reproduction across the photo in a format 13 inches high by 26 inches wide are not up to snuff? I have never seen photography at this level in any book on interiors in forty-plus years of looking. You feel as if you are walking into the room or up the stairs or into the garden. Robert Stern's books come close, but it's all about the house, not the interiors, and too many of his residential projects are frankly boring.

One hardly needs to add the twelfth five-star review of this book, but I offer it to be sure that no one with any interest in design will miss it. THE decorating book of this year . . . or any other year, for that matter.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Genius of John Saladino, March 24, 2009
By 
Debra Ellison (Munster, Indiana USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Villa (Hardcover)
I continue to be both astonished at & inspired by the Genius of John Saladino. He is a Master of creating breathtaking interiors and exteriors that transcend the visual and delight the senses. This book is a masterpiece of the culmination of his talent & the included DVD is a beautiful surprise!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A design adventure - just wonderful!, April 14, 2010
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This review is from: Villa (Hardcover)
Reading this beautifully designed book is like taking a trip abroad. It details a loving restoration with the superb style for which the author is famous. A tour through this remarkable residence is exhilerating, enhanced by the book's lovely design and thoughtful text.
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Villa
Villa by John F. Saladino (Hardcover - March 24, 2009)
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