If anyone has the killer instincts of a home-flipping Jedi, it’s Ellen DeGeneres. She’s snapped up some of the most desirable properties in L.A. and always manages to make them even better, then sell them at a huge profit. No doubt her latest triumph is
Villa Tragara, a $21M Moorish-influenced house modeled after the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain. According to Dirt, Ellen’s latest acquisition lingered on the market for three years in the Montecito-Santa Barbara area of California. With 3 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms, this massive home clocks in at 11,947-square-feet but it’s the global style that will set many hearts aflutter.
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Set on a knoll with clear views of the Pacific Ocean, Villa Tragara is an easy jog away from the five-star
San Ysidro Ranch resort, home to the beautiful (and popular with area locals) Stonehouse restaurant. Nearly everything in the rouge-colored mansion itself is ultra-bespoke, from the hand-carved front door to the intricately crafted windows and gorgeous floors, most of which were imported from Europe. There are hammam-inspired bathrooms, numerous Corinthian columns and radiant heat floors throughout.
It’s not Andalusia, Spain but it might as well be. The villa recalls another time and place, like a Moorish monarch’s palace from the 13th century. The residence is nearly as majestic as the actual Alhambra (“The Red One”). Perched high like a fortress on a landscape of mountains and lush, immaculate grounds, the panoramic mansion soaks up sun and dramatic ocean vistas from every vantage point.
Outside, the nearly 2.4 acres of terraced grounds are fully landscaped and include a heated swimming pool, a pickle ball court, bocce ball court and tennis court. The expertly maintained gardens are filled with exotic plantings, an olive orchard, waterfalls, two large lawns for small events, and a grand lawn for formal parties and big events. The estate also includes a floating Japanese pavilion above the koi pond, and a 16-seat covered pergola with an outdoor kitchen that includes a pizza oven and barbecue, perfect for entertaining guests.
Villa Tragara was designed and built by Kinka Usher, a French-born director who made lucrative television commercials for HBO, Nike, Pepsi, Nissan and Sony. Ornate ceiling details and rosettes almost steal the thunder from the view in this room. A chevron floor adds to the global vibe of the Corinthian columns placed in front of floor-to-ceiling windows.
A restaurant-grade kitchen offers professional chef equipment — a rotisserie, a Bonnet Range with grill, plancha and French top. This was all apropos for Kinka Usher, a former sous chef.
This living room seating area is dominated by a cathedral ceiling with criss-crossing beams and an enormous chandelier (with an expansive sectional seating that works with the room’s scale).
Built in 2014 by MG Partners, the villa fuses Old World architecture (and antiques) with luxurious modern amenities. This room which incorporates a dining area, leads out to a balcony with views of the gardens.
Two primary suites are incorporated in the house, one boasting floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides, a large covered terrace, and a spa-like bathroom. The windows are detailed with arched shapes for an authentic Spanish feel.
A traditional mottled tadelakt wall finish and arched colonnade brings Moorish flair to the bathroom.
A hammam-inspired bathroom has a sculptural marble tub adorned with a carved lion’s head. An elaborate tiled wall has a jewel-like appearance and is topped by a petite quartrefoil window.
Out front, a long driveway is scattered with crunchy pea gravel and leads past lush landscaping to a formal motorcourt. Mature palm trees and lanterns drive home the faraway inspiration.
Author: Wendy Jacob
Interiors by Alexis Adam; headshot, William Abranowicz