Sometimes people ask moi, where I get my style, my taste. It’s from three people: my grandmother, my mother and my friend, Diandra Douglas. My grandmother was so chic she didn’t even know how chic she was. That’s how chic she was. My mother was born with great taste. Sometimes I would come home from grammar school and she would have repainted and redecorated an entire room by the time I got out of gymnastics. Diandra got her exquisite taste from her grandmother and mother as well. So, when Diandra and I met so many years ago, it was kismet. It was fate. That day started an ongoing 12 year conversation about furniture, houses, accessories, fabric, chandeliers, sconces, antiquities, chinoiserie, Bugatti chairs, and on and on and on and on. We have never stopped.
La Quinta. Diandra’s house in Montecito, California. Okay, look, I’ve seen a lot of great houses. I’ve been around the block a few times and hands down, this is one of the best. Make a cup of tea and let me take you on a little journey…
I don’t know how it happened but one day Diandra invited me to her house for tea. We didn’t even know each other yet. We had mutual friends, but we were strangers. I accepted the invitation with excitement. Not because she was Michael Douglas ex-wife. Who cares. All I knew was that I was about to meet this style icon. We lived on the same street. I, at the bottom at the beach and she, at the top of the hills. We were on the same axis point. Good start. As I drove through the pale salmon colored walls of her estate, I was greeted by a horse like Great Dane. The dog guided me slowly up the long pea gravel driveway, so I had enough time to notice the hundreds of Chanel–esque Camellia flower bushes on my left. To my right was a colonnade with Wisteria dripping from it, and a green rolling lawn.
When I got to the top of the driveway, I was all in. She literally had me at the front door. I think I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves. What maybe cannot be conveyed through the pictures is the absolute warmth that the house exuded. I grew to know this house and love this house over the years. After Diandra moved to New York, sadly, she decided to sell La Quinta. I was fortunate enough to live in the house for a year with my daughter to watch over the house, update a few things and prepare it for showings. I know it like the back of my hand. I love it as much as a girl could love an inanimate object. Big love.
Years ago, there was a big fat fire in Santa Barbara looming over Diandra’s house. No one was living at the house at the time. I remember her calling me and saying, “Save My House! Save My House!” I raced up the hill, lied my way through the police barricade, stood in the middle of the living room with my arms out and thought, “Oh My God, where do I start? What do I grab first?" It was like Sophie's Choice! I remember standing on top of the white sofa in the living room and ripping the tapestry down and dragging it outside. What next? How do I prioritize? Oh my God, I’m going to have a nervous breakdown. Luckily, reinforcement arrived. Our other friends brought over polo pony trucks and we started filling them with all of the antiquities. By the grace of God, the house was not touched by the fire. Slightly stressful day. It’s probably why I have ALS. Just kidding.
We also decided to put in a vegetable/fruit/herb garden. Funny, it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. We had three different types of lettuces, heirloom tomatoes, peppers, Rosemary, thyme and loads of Moroccan mint for tea. Francisca, the housekeeper of 1 million years, helped me with everything. Diandra supervised from New York.
This house has seen a lot of love, a lot of happiness, a lot of joy, a lot of dogs and children and friends. It is also seen sadness, heartbreak and tears. Such is life, oui?
A few years ago we hosted the Santa Barbara Magazine Christmas party. We decorated the whole house using most everything from nature. Take a look…
Sadly, La Quinta is gone now. Sold to one lucky person who hopefully isn’t destroying its magic… Before you feel too bad for Diandra… Tomorrow let’s take a look at her other faaabuloous house in Mallorca, Spain. You’re going to die.