Beach Houses #5 - The Dominican Republic




The charming Oscar de la Renta at his home in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

The always dapper and extremely handsome courtier Oscar de la Renta was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, a large island in  the Western Antilles of the Caribbean.  It's history and culture is one of the oldest in the Western Hemisphere - Christopher  Columbus discovered the island  on his maiden voyage of 1492.  Two thirds of the island Hispaniola is occupied by the Dominican Republic, the other third is the independent country of Haiti.  Oscar de la Renta has remained loyal to his birthplace.  He lives part of the year there in a beautiful beach house in the area known as Punta Cana.  Previously, Oscar lived in another, more populated area of the island, but along with his move to the resort town of Punta Cana, he became a major investor and tourist attraction there.    His cachet draws the upper classes to Punta Cana where they can relax in relative privacy behind the gated doors of its beach community.  President and Mrs. Clinton are among some of the regular visitors to Oscar's compound.  Other close by neighbors are Mikhail Baryshnikov  and co investor with Oscar, singer Julio Iglesias.  A few years ago interior designer Bunny Williams and husband,  antiquarian John Rosselli, also built a house in Punta Cana, using the same architect as Oscar, the Cuban born Ernesto Buch.   But, don't let the famous names scare you off.   If you want to enjoy Punta Cana,  you don't have to have king's ransom to do so.  The affordable, all inclusive Club Med has a beautiful resort on the island.  For more exclusive digs, there is always Oscar's and Julio's hotel, the Tortuga Bay.  Enjoy!


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An aerial view of Oscar's beach house on Punta Cana.  The compound was designed by the famous architect Ernesto Buch, known for his many houses he has designed in the Dominican Republic.


Oscar and his wife heading home.  Note the dual staircases that lead to the piano nobile, or the second floor - which is actually the main living area.  At the beach, Buch employs the piano nobile for the sweeping views of the ocean it provides along with the protection against rising tides during storms.


The open air pool pavilion, built in the same style as the main house, albeit much smaller.  The home and its outbuildings are built of coquina, native coral stone and stucco, applied by hand. 

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Inside the house on the piano nobile, evening means the candles need to be lit for the night.  Immense votives are everywhere.  The large wood table divides the room into two equal halves.   The center table is piled high with art books and a large blue and white bowl holds an array of orchids.  On the dark hardwood floors is a huge, threadbare blue and white antique dhurri rug with a Greek key border.  Tall French doors on both sides of the room open to the porches overlooking the ocean on one side and the gardens on the other.  The walls are made of coral stone.


Apologies for the poor picture quality!!!!

Both sides of the room are anchored by matching fireplaces with overmantel mirrors and flanking bookcases.  A  large limestone pediment tops the mirrors.   The large slipcovered sofa between the bookcases is from Oscar's furniture line with Century.  Oversized blue and white porcelain vases became lamps. 


A close up of the living room with its coral walls and oversized architectural elements which help bring the huge room back to a more human sized scale.


A guest room with a white canopy bed and striped dhurri rug.  The walls are a soft apricot stucco.  Notice the  exotic secretary on the right.


On the balcony, the designer introduces his outdoor furniture line for Century, using his Punta Cana home as the perfect stage.  I love what he's wearing here:  white linen with the sleeves pushed up along with white linen pants!  Hey, Oscar -  can I borrow your outfit?


The Way He Was:  Before the move to Punta Cana, Oscar lived in Casa de Campo, a more touristy section.  Here is his wooden house - blue and white ikats abound, along with blue and white garden seats.  This summer, Oscar's fashion line featured many ikat fabrics, proving his  continual   love for it.    Here, he's still wearing white linen!

Oscar De La Renta (© Slim Aarons)


And one other shot, by Slim Aarons, at Casa de Campo.



Tortuga Bay, the resort that Oscar and Julio built and partly own - a small boutique hotel, Oscar also designed it and furnished it with pieces from his own furniture line.


The suites have limestone floors and white walls.   Oscar's famous slipcovered sofa is here too.  The green painted coffee table is adorable!


The master bedrooms in the villas have a large canopy bed.


The other bedrooms have rice beds painted black.  Imagine waking up here each morning!   Heavenly!


The small dining room that serves the hotel's even smaller  guest roster.  Exclusivity is the important word here!


Oscar, sans socks, proudly shows off the villa's living room.  He's so handsome, it's hard to resist putting his picture on here!!!  Here he is wearing yellow instead of white linen to coordinate with Tortuga Bay's yellow design theme.


After spending a Christmas vacation with Oscar, Bunny Williams and John Rosselli bought three acres there and hired Oscar's architect, Ernesto Buch to design them a house on Punta Cana.  After dating 15 years, the couple finally married right before the house, La Colina,  was completed.


The cover of Bunny Williams' new book shows the living room on the piano nobile.  A large rectangular table divides the room in half.   The last part of the book is devoted to the Punta Cana beach house.  Available here.


The great room on the piano nobile, again, designed with antiques from various homes the couple own, along with from their shops.  Antique textiles liven up the antique sofa and chairs.  The large mirror is one that John sells - he enlarged it for this home and painted it white.  Blue and white porcelains, lamps and garden seats are favorites of John.  This room is large, 30 x 50, which called for a higher than usual ceiling, according to Bunny.   My favorite item here is the taupe and cream striped dhurri rug! 

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A close up of the right side of the room.  Notice the beautiful shell table with the scalloped apron and the white elephant.  There's also a beautiful pagoda.  The base of the lamp perfectly matches the light blue slipcovers.  The framed pair of wallpaper panels perfectly set off the whole vignette.


The porch on the piano nobile is furnished with chaises from Oscar's collection for Century.


The ground level porch features a charming scalloped bench along with wicker chairs.


John's library, where he watches late afternoon TV??????   I'm not sure with a beach this gorgeous, that I'd be watching a TV indoors!!!  The massive tortoise shell is spectacular, as is the console upon which  it sits.  Notice the two cattle next to the shell.  It's accessories such as these that make a Williams-Rosselli interior unique and highly personal.


John's library with a wall of Swedish bird prints.  Anthropologie sells a wonderful copy of this set of bird prints.


The pool house doubles as a guest house. 


On a shelf, a collection of corals and shells decorates the pool pavilion.


In the master bedroom, an American empire bed shares space with a painted Swedish settee at the foot of the bed.  The large carved shell is 18th century, Italian.  Large botanicals flank the bed.  Notice how the door is painted black - a favorite design trick I like to use to make less important doors look, well, more important!


The house today, with its plantings lushly growing over the iron staircases.


From Ernesto Buch's web site, the house upon completion before the landscaping grew.


The front or back? of the house has a water feature than runs down the lawn in a long, skinny river.  Again, the landscaping had just  been planted and looks rather forlorn here!


Buch's site plan for the Williams-Rosselli compound.  The pool is not directly in front of the house, but instead, off to the right.  And interesting too, the house is not beach front, but rather on a small hill overlooking the bay.  Floor plans of this house and Oscar's are  available on Buch's web site for your perusal.  Additionally, there are several other Punta Cana houses featured that Buch has designed.


Buch's exquisite drawings show "Bunny's Den" above the three car garage.  I wonder if this is her beach office?

This house is located in Casa de Campo, Oscar's former neighborhood.  The architect here was Jacquelin Robertson, and the design team was MAC II, headed by Mica Ertugun. 

Here, the house is, like the other two shown, built of native coral stone and stucco.  The main difference in the Buch and Robertson designs is the piano nobile, or second floor.  The Robertson house is on the ground level and does not have the piano nobile.  Beautiful though it is, it doesn't have quite the commanding appearance as the Buch designed houses do. 


The large living area, like in the other two beach homes, is separated by a center table.   The room, built of native coral stone, resembles Oscar's living room, built of the same material.


A close up of the decor:  Gorgeous wood French doors lead to the outside.  The bookcases are made of the same wood.  Blue and white porcelains accent the room.   Notice on the far left the fluted wood column and urn - so classic!   The choice of fabrics and their colors would not be my first choice and they leave me puzzled.


A close up showing the texture of the gorgeous coral walls.  The mirror and console appear to have grown organically out of the stone.  Can I tell you how much I hate the green fabric on the chairs?  The house is magnificent, but the fabric choices are not Ertugun's best work.  Agree or disagree?


Here in the master bedroom, the architecture is breathtaking.  The high ceiling and beamed roof, the gorgeous wood French doors, the coral walls all add to the room's richness of design.   The bed's mosquito netting provides the softness and romance to the setting. 


The porch, with it's coral stone floor and columns.  The table is also made of the same material.  Notice the charming wicker chair.  Here, the outdoor furniture is much more romantic than the more contemporary line of Oscar de la Renta outdoor furniture used in the other two houses.  Which do you prefer?  The vintage wicker or the newer version?


For the masses:  Club Med Punta Cana, a family destination, is located near by Tortuga Bay, a much more exclusive address.  But, the beach is the same and so is the scenery, and this resort looks pretty good to me!  One of Ben's and my favorite trips we have taken was to a Club Med - so it's a vacation spot I highly recommend, especially if you have small children.


Sailing and swimming at Club Med Punta Cana.


An aerial shot of the beach and the swimming pool.  OK, I'm ready to go!!  This looks just a little bit nicer than South Padre Island, especially after Hurricane Dolly came and damaged it this week.  And no!  We are not going there this summer  because of Dolly!!!    :(


Club Med Punta Cana has been totally remodeled recently.  These rooms are furnished in pinks and reds.  The bedroom is separated from a sitting room by a screen of pickets.  The floor is coral stone.


Wait a minute - THIS is Club Med???????  Wow - a bathtub!  We we were there, we had just a tiny shower stall.


And the biggest surprise of them all?  A flat screen TV.  Whatever happened to the "no telephones, no televisions" rule at Club Med?  And do they still sing "Hands Up" every minute of every day???

If you do want to visit Club Med at Punta Cana or anywhere else in the world, be sure to call my friend, Eddie.  His company offers discounts to all the villages.  Tell them Joni sent you!  And no, I'm not getting a kick back either.  I actually used to work for Eddie and took reservations over the phone from my home for him.    Call Mill Travel at:   1-800-242-6378  in order to get the discount.

The beaches at the Dominican Republic are so beautiful, but the architecture is even more so!  Don't forget to visit Ernesto Buch's web site for more pictures of various other homes he has designed on the island.

Cote de Texas Top Ten Designers - #5




Hailing from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Charles Faudree steps up to claim #5 on the Cote de Texas: Top Ten Designers list. What Mario Buatta is to English Country design, Faudree is the Country French equivalent. And, just as Buatta is affectionately known as the King of Chintz, Faudree is the King of Toile. The two designers share much with their over the top excesses, attention to detail and their unabashed enthusiasm for their art. Faudree makes no excuses for his designing style - nor should he. He loves the Country French style and has loved it since when he was a teenager and purchased his first French Provencal chair. He has no desire to test his mettle with other styles such as contemporary or mid century modern. Fortunately for Faudree's fans, he stood out the whole Tuscan revival period all together. Faudree is perfectly content to give his clients what they want, and what they want is Country French.

Faudree's design motto is "too much is never enough" and judging from his interiors he strictly adheres to this. He weaves his rooms with layer upon layer of fabrics, accessories, antiques, art work, mirrors and rugs. Each layer is carefully blended together so that his interiors flow with ease, there are no harsh contrasts in a Faudree designed room. Country French's appeal for Faudree lies in the warmth of the furniture and the casualness of the interiors. Never overly dressy, his rooms are filled with the fruitwoods that Country French furniture is famous for. For Faudree it is all about the "mix, not the matching" - the mix of "fabrics, periods, colors." His interiors are a soft blend of muted colors and polished woods. He prefers certain fabrics and tends to use the same ones over and over again. A favorite is Petit Parc by Pierre Frey. In fact, he frequently uses many Pierre Frey fabrics, along with other French fabric houses. He also favors Bennison fabrics for the muted quality of their hand blocked prints. But toiles are, without a doubt, his signature fabric and are what made Faudree a household name.

Besides the importance of fabrics in his interiors, symmetry plays a major role. One or two pairs of antique French chairs are found in almost every Faudree designed room. The layouts are classical - there's no edginess to a Faudree room where a certain comfort comes from the familiarity. Accessories are another part of his layering, and here Faudree goes international with a smattering of English and Asian mixed in with the French. He adores English Staffordshire figures and frequently makes lamps out of them. He uses plates everywhere, in cabinets, on shelves, and on the walls. Dogs, both real and figured, abound in a Faudree interior.

Though Faudree's look appears to be constant, he has evolved subtly over the years. Where once all his homes were filled with red toile, today that has changed. He is using less and less of red and even less of toile these days. His interiors are quieter and lighter, with white and painted furniture popping up here and there along with piece or two of the popular gray painted Swedish furniture. Nowhere is the evolution of Faudree's style more evident than on the covers of his books: while the front cover of his first tome was all red checks and toiles, his newest bookcover features a room in soothing white with pale grays and blue accents.

Faudree was born and bred in Oklahoma and continues to make his home there. In fact, he had made several homes there claiming to have moved 11 times in 25 years. Found on many magazines' Top 100 Designers lists, Faudree is extremely in demand and his popularity shows no signs of slowing down in the least. He runs a shop in Tulsa, and has a line of beautiful reproduction Country French furniture. He is a noted author with three best sellers under his belt and a fourth about to be released. And on top of all this, he has a fabric line in the works. Faudree's designs were frequently published in magazines during his meteoric rise to the top, but lately, he is saving his best work for his books. And really, who can blame him?

Charles Faudree with his signature "pretty" look is certainly not for everybody. But for those who do admire his work, their loyalty is unwavering.


Classic Charles Faudree: symmetry and red checks, red prints, French chairs, red table, Asian accessories and English Staffordshire. Layers upon layers are typical of Faudree's "look."

The newer Faudree: pale cream walls, painted furniture, pinks instead of bright reds. This bedroom, though classic French Provencal, is lighter in touch than the typical Faudree look. Famous for his luscious bedrooms, this room is an excellent example.


The proof is in the cover: the subtle evolution of Faudree's style. The first book, 2003, is all red buffalo checks, a mixture of red toiles and his Cavalier, King Charles spaniel. This is the look that made Faudree a superstar in the design world.

To order this book from Amazon, go here.


The second book, two years later, no reds and no toiles - instead Faudree uses a taupe damask with blue and leopard accents. French fireplace mantel, Asian accessories, and French fruitwood. The Cavalier, King Charles spaniel remains the same. Faudree's legions of fans are receptive to his lighter approach.

To order this book from Amazon, go here.


The new book, his fourth, is due to be released soon, and it's cover is a complete departure from his first cover. White walls, damask, seagrass. and stylized zebra. Glass coffee top is a rare contemporary touch. Even the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is missing!!!! Though still French in every sense of the word, this look is more sophisticated and shows growth. Faudree's third book was cowritten with a florist and is not a design book in the same sense that these other three books are.

To preorder this book from Amazon go here.


A soft, muted living room with all the elements in place: pairs of French chairs flank the French fireplace, antique chests, oils, plates on the walls, French bronzes, needlepoint rug, Bennison fabric, curtains with trim, cushy pillows, a tufted ottoman, and a black chinoiserie tea table. Classic,
"pretty" Faudree. The look he is known for.


True Country French: painted buffet with a faux marbleized top, blue and white porcelains, red toiles on the pair of french antique chairs. I love the Italian painting above the buffet. Symmetry, always!


Dining room with painted, peeling buffet, pewter accessories, Staffordshire lamps, toile curtains, and painted French chairs. Note the traditional French style timbers in the walls.


Faudree moves often and his furniture shows up with different fabrics and in different configurations. Here, the same buffet, pewter and lamps is paired with a wine tasting table and different chairs. Notice how in most rooms, Faudree uses beams and textured walls in a typical French manner. Here the walls appear paneled, in the above picture, they look stuccoed.


For this client, Faudree uses a floor plan he repeats often: one large living and dining room combination with a fireplace on each end. Fruitwood antiques with striped and checked fabrics. The cushy pillows are a print fabric. A tall wood table takes the place of a traditional coffee table - a look Faudree favors. Behind the sofa is the dining area. The roof is pitched with wood beams. Seagrass covers the scored concrete floor.


In a bay window, Faudree places a small wood table with two French armchairs.


A close up of the dining area with a large, French table and a mixture of chairs. A popular French lantern lights the area.


This charming painting has shown up in several different Faudree homes.


Here, she shows up above the mantel at one of Faudree's weekend homes. His favorite Pierre Frey fabric is on the walls, while blue and white buffalo check cover the cushions on the French chairs.


A weekend home, The Roost, with its welcome sign - no detail is left undone.


Here, a pillow is marked "The Roost" as are the bath towels at Faudree's weekend home.


At Faudree's weekend home, blue and white checks are mixed with the Petit Parc fabric. The fruitwood furniture is replaced with creamy painted furniture. The ceilings are paneled. Bois paneling on the walls furthers the rustic look. As always, blue and white vases symmetrically placed bring balance to the large room.


Another view of the weekend home's large living room, dining room combination.


Behind the sofa is the eating area. A painted day bed is covered in blue and white ticking, with blue and white toile and Petit Parc pillows.


At the dining table with it painted scalloped apron, white painted chairs are covered in blue and white checks. A huge tapestry hangs on the wall.


Faudree introduces Swedish at his weekend retreat with this painted secretary.


A pillow reflects his love of all dogs - real and figured.


This charming bathroom with an antique window adds architectural detailing so important to Faudree's interiors. A gorgeous antique armoire that most would give a place of honor, is casually put next to the tub. Notice the mix of accessories hanging on the wall - each piece adds to the layering effect Faudree is famous for.


Another bathroom, less rustic, but still, comfortable and casual. Again, just because it's a bathroom is no excuse not to decorate it as if it is a living room!


This is a living room in a former Faudree house. Light gray fabrics mix with brown and taupe fabrics. A patterned area rug grounds the space. Symmetry, as always, shows up with the matching sconces balancing the larger oil painting. Faudree adores sconces, lighted or not, and uses them frequently. The ceiling, rafters, and stairs are rustic wood, giving the house the appearance of an old, French maison.


This dining room in a former Faudree house is all Country French. From the chandelier to the gorgeous barometer on the wall, each piece adds to the romance of the room. Toile curtains mix with a mini print on the chairs. As usual, his large array of blue and white transferware is hung in symmetrical patterns on the walls.


An early version of a dining room from one of Faudree's homes. His large collection of blue and white transferware hangs on the walls. An even larger fruitwood buffet is placed in front of the bois paneling. A tole chandelier hangs over the table where Faudree has placed wing chairs covered in toile.


Another dining room with French chairs and table and a large painted buffet topped with a mirror. Again, the curtains are a printed fabric.


A typical Faudree vignette - a gorgeous French chest with trumeau, sconces, books and bronzes. All are placed in a very symmetrical arrangement.


A mix of French blue fabrics and the ever present Petit Parc. A rare, contemporary styled rug is underfoot.


This study has a gorgeous overmantel trumeau with attached sconces. The shelves, painted blue, are filled with Staffordshire figures. Faudree's Cavalier King Charles dog sleeps in a chair covered in his beloved Petit Parc fabric. A steel table sits next to it. A large antique tole chandelier hangs over the table.


More Staffordshire mixed with antique books.


For this client, another living room-dining room combination with a high pitched roof. The sofa is a gorgeous wood framed French reproduction.


The dining area of the large room. As usual, two matching fireplaces are used in the large room - one at each end.


For the same client, a French red and blue fabric is used on the twin beds, while a mixture of fabrics is used for pillows. The client's large blue and white transferware collection is hung on the walls in a symmetrical pattern. A charming painted desk becomes the bedside table.


A vignette in a room with a large, painted secretary. It's amazing how many wonderful pieces of painted Provencal antiques Faudree finds for his clients. Are there any left in France?


This living room shows Faudree's use of high tea tables or gateleg tables in place of low coffee tables. Bois paneling is used to bring in the architectural detailing so important in a Faudree room. A tole chandelier hangs over the gateleg table.


The dressier, "pretty" side of Faudree. A large painted screen becomes the focal point. A French bergere is covered in two fabrics - the fancier silk covers the front, while the less expensive check covers the usually unseen back - this is a traditional way of upholstering French chairs.


Faudree sells a line of reproduction French furniture. Here, the Josephine chair is shown in a fruitwood finish and dressed in a red toile fabric.


Benches come in two sizes and styles - with a cushion and without.


Here, the Patrice chair is shown how it comes and how it is delivered to the client.


The Gabrielle table is shown with it's fabric top.


This home was featured several years ago in Veranda magazine. The architect is Jack Arnold, also from Tulsa. Arnold and Faudree, both lovers of Country French, have collaborated on many projects. This home is a beautiful interpretation of a Country French maison de campagne.


The great room, like so many seen already, is a living room, dining room combination. The design of this type of room is itself a lesson in symmetry. A large chandelier hangs over the center of the room. Painted a soft yellow, the fabrics are predominantly yellow with green accents. The rug covers the entire room. The furniture is mostly painted pieces. A tall tea table takes the place of a coffee table. Notice the ceiling treatment with its whitewashed timbers and rafters, giving it a country house appearance.


Each end of the room has an identical fireplace and trumeau.


The family room shares space with the kitchen and breakfast area. Chairs here are Bennison.


The library has a more contemporary rug than expected.


The library again- a beautiful painted secretary sits in between two slipcovered chairs with matching curtains. Notice the round, tole clock above the secretary. Empty wall spaces provide perfect landing places for another accessory.


The bedroom has a large canopy bed.


One side of the bedroom with a beautiful painted buffet and chair and ottoman. A large, oval canvas fits perfectly between the Bennison curtained windows.


Another view of the bedroom with its French limestone overmantel and blue painted bench. The canopy's fabric is Bennison on the outside, a check on the inside. The walls are wallpapered in a trellis pattern.


A corner of the bedroom with its beautiful desk.


The master bathroom with its huge trumeau mirror and paneling. Again, bathrooms are not just rooms with bathtubs, but beautiful spaces decorated with the same care as the living room.


The back of the house - the large living room/dining room looks out from the french doors. On each side of the wings are large outdoor living spaces overlooking the pool.

Snap251 This outdoor space has a built in fireplace and sports beautiful French furniture worthy of the inside.


The other outdoor space also has a fireplace and French antiques and reproductions.

I hope you've enjoyed looking at a sample of Charles Faudree's designs. If you weren't a fan before, maybe you've been swayed by the beautiful photographs! If you were a fan - I KNOW you've enjoyed the eye candy as much as I have! Myself, I've long been a devotee of Faudree's work, and although my love for red toile has waned during the years, it appears it has for Faudree too. I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of his new book to see exactly how far he has taken his love of painted and Swedish furniture! Be sure not to miss the next installment of Cote de Texas - Top 10 Designers, #4!!!