Sotheby’s At Large

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi’s Romantic Santa Barbara Villa

When beloved talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres and her wife, actress Portia de Rossi, first saw this elegant stone villa in the hills of Santa Barbara, they were immediately taken by the pastoral ambience of the Tuscan-like countryside around it – the gentle sunlight, the rugged stone and the reverence its construction had shown for the natural surroundings. “The house truly feels like it was built out of the landscape,” says DeGeneres. “It feels ancient, like it’s been there forever, like that hill was never without the house. This is a home that honours nature, and I love that.”

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Perched on a crest with views of the ocean, harbour and mountains, this villa in the hills of Santa Barbara was designed and built in the 1930s by celebrated architect Wallace Frost. Recently returned from living in Italy, Frost wanted to bring touches of the Old World to the New World, so he designed the two-story residence for himself, emulating the classical style of 17th-century Italian villas.

©JIM BARTSCH

Elegant ornamental ironwork encloses a breezy covered veranda, which is accented by a tranquil fountain. Swinging doors open to a charming interior courtyard.

©JIM BARTSCH

In the home’s grand entry, guests are immediately greeted with the texture and ambience of the Tuscan countryside. French doors open to gardens with a burbling fountain and an alfresco dining area shaded by 100-year-old olive trees.©JIM BARTSCH

Grand arched wood doors open to the spacious, sophisticated living room, with its soaring wood-beamed ceiling, 18th-century Italian floor tiles and carved stone fireplace. An oversize iron-framed window, tucked between built-in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, reveals panoramic views of the ocean and Santa Barbara Harbour; while double paned-glass doors open to a peaceful patio.

©JIM BARTSCH

The handsome media room is a relaxing casual retreat. Natural light filters in through windows and skylights, a stone fireplace in the corner adds warmth, and soft breezes drift in through French doors accessing the central courtyard.

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The formal dining room is a refined space where hewn stone and delicately whitewashed wood paneling and ceiling beams contribute to the subtle, sophisticated palette. Divided-light windows offer lovely illumination and a view of the enveloping greenery.

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In the streamlined kitchen, modern stainless-steel cabinets are wrapped in marble, and appliances – a double oven, a range and a double refrigerator – are state-of-the-art. A stone nook houses a pantry, a microwave and a wine refrigerator; and a hidden door opens to an office loft. The kitchen also accesses the veranda and the formal dining room.

©JIM BARTSCH

In the cheerful breakfast nook, sunlight floods in through a dramatic arched iron window, which opens at the centre to gardens with city and ocean, while French doors open to a dining patio. Nearby, an intimate sitting area is warmed by a carved stone fireplace.

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