History Is Rewritten At This Hillside Montecito Villa


traditional exterior fountain

For a Montecito home, a design team pens a new story, imbuing the abode with a fresh style and classic charm.

traditional neutral living room painting

Artist Stephen Wright's painting hangs in the living room.

traditional foyer staircase neutral

Designer Thomas Hamel incorporated a Milton Greene photo, part of homeowners Donald and Vivienne Bellisario's art collection, into the foyer of their Montecito home and re-covered an existing armchair in a Kerry Joyce Textiles print from Kneedler-Fauchere. Glass artist Brian McNally created a stained-glass skylight over the space, which was reconfigured by architect Don Nulty.

traditional living room pink walls...

Decorative plasterwork on the living room ceiling evokes classic European details, while chartreuse draperies of a Brunschwig & Fils fabric stand out against walls in a pinkish hue. Minton-Spidell supplied the settee clad in a Cowtan & Tout velvet and the armchairs in a Carleton V pattern from Nicky Rising. A Chapas Textiles design covers the Gregorius Pineo sofa, and the custom chinoiserie tray table is by Dennis & Leen; underfoot is a carpet from Jasper. The carved and gilt piece in the corner--thought to be an altar--hails from Oprah Winfrey's nearby estate.

traditional pink wall living room...

Hamel worked with Sydney Harbour Paint Company to formulate custom wall colors, including the shade in the living room. The clients' own gilt console and a painting by Alan Feltus produce an eye-catching vignette in the space.

traditional dining room blue wall...

"I've always been a great fan of round dining tables," Hamel says. He commissioned Therien & Co. to craft the formal dining room's table as a nod to classic Italian design; it is centered beneath a Paul Ferrante chandelier. The vintage Minton-Spidell chairs are dressed in Le Gracieux fabric, and the abstract painting is by Paul Pollaro.

traditional dining room rustic chandelier

Hamel contrasted the rustic family room dining area with the owners' 18th-century English bookcase. Side chairs by Gregorius Pineo gather around the Formations table. Above is a chandelier also by Formations.

traditional neutral kitchen island counter...

"Our clients love color, so we thought we would incorporate a sophisticated tone and decided upon the aubergine," Hamel says of the shade chosen for the kitchen island. Joining it are Gregorius Pineo counter stools.

traditional brown office wood paneling

Donald's office is furnished with an RH chesterfield sofa and an ottoman upholstered in a Kravet fabric. Builder Jeff McFarlane oversaw the installation of the wood paneling in the room.

traditional outdoor sitting area neutral

Cushions wearing a Perennials solid from David Sutherland rest on a banquette in a covered terrace adjacent to a courtyard.

History is Rewritten At This...

Landscape architect Derrik Eichelberger took his cues from Italian landscapes, mingling olive and Italian cypress trees and other Mediterranean-feeling plantings to populate the villa's grounds.

traditional bedroom neutral gray canopy...

Gauzy draperies in a Kerry Joyce Textiles woolen sheer shelter a Gregorius Pineo bed in the master bedroom; flanking it are Minton-Spidell tables Hamel customized to hold computers, books and even snacks. The Oushak rug from Jasper reflects the room's blue-and-yellow palette.

traditional bathroom blue gold accents

Conrad shades provide privacy in the master bathroom, where a Paul Ferrante sconce resides next to a Remains Lighting mirror, and the Louis XVI-style side chair is from Dennis & Leen.

The front gate, the pool, and the kitchen sink. That’s all that remains at this sprawling Montecito compound from when its owners purchased it at a bank sale and ordered a complete its overhaul.

The early 20th-century California home had been altered and added on to so many times that the mismatched wings offered nothing original or charming. That gave the new owners carte blanche to imagine a new history there–one that resembles an old Italian village, similar to the husband’s ancestral home east of Rome.

Both husband and wife were intensely involved in the renovation with architect Don Nulty and builder Jeff McFarlane–ordering antique European fireplaces and reclaimed barn beams for the interiors–but they needed a designer to help them pull it all together. Australian designer Thomas Hamel stepped in to complete their vision with brightly colored Venetian plaster and period patterns painted onto coffered ceilings.

“We wanted that early 20th-century look–that feeling of those wonderful vintage-California homes,” he says.

Outside, landscape architect Derrik Eichelberger designed the sweeping grounds to befit a proper Italian villa–not least of which was the all-important bocce court.