All About Barbra19
All About Barbra20MY PASSION FOR DESIGNBY BARBRA STREISANDBOOK REVIEW BY LARRY OLSONLavish" and "opulent" are words that describe both Barbra Streisand's new book,and her accomplished and impressive design talent. "My Passion for Design,"published by Viking, a member of the Penguin Group, is a lavish 296-page tour-de-force of publishing, with opulent design and printing throughout. And thesubject of the book, Barbra's Malibu homes, reveals her astonishing design talent andextraordinary attention to detail. "Designed by Doug Turshen (with SteveTurner), the book is indeed lavish, withhundred of sumptuous color photographs byBarbra herself, chapter divider pages in a colorthat coordinates with the siding of the newbarn house, section headings in the samematching redish-burgundy color, two full-colorfold outs of the front and back of the barn,front and end pages of Barbra's sketches andnotes, and extensive text and photo captionswritten by Barbra.In six sections, the book begins with anIntroduction where Barbra talks aboutfollowing the natural light of the day, herpassion for color, how she acquired her eye forart and design, a summary of all the homesshe's lived in throughout her life, and a recap ofher collecting habits throughout the years. Sherecounts that she's always had a fascinationwith barns and with early Americanarchitecture and antiques, which inspired theelegance of the set for her 1994 Tour. "Andthen somehow that vision of 18th-centuryelegance merged with the barn idea," she says."How do I put these opposing elementstogether?" she asks. "I didn't know yet howthey would go together, but instinctively I knewthey could." The chapter "An Elegant Barn" starts with her"chicken coup" and tells the story of how sheacquired the three pieces of property thatcomprise her current Malibu compound. Thetext provides extravagant detail of her researchand how she designs. Photos document thedigging of the basement, framing of the rooms,construction at various stages-and then thefinished exteriors.A hooked-rug bought in 1989, picturing amill house and waterwheel, served as theinspiration for the Mill House, the thirdchapter of the book. The Mill House features a4,000-pound watermill, storm cellar anddesign room. Nearby, Barbra designed andsupervised the building of a pond, streams,bridges, a lap pool, outdoor Jacuzzi, a rosegarden, and a vegetable garden. Nothing is left to chance. The meanderingdriveway, that looks as if it has been there foryears, is actually a cement sub-structure,covered with stone and grass to give theappropriate used-path look. The vegetablegarden was moved away from the rose gardenso the rose sprays wouldn't intrude on theorganic nature of the vegetables. The height ofthe stream rocks were placed precisely to enablethe water to flow naturally toward the oceanand give the natural sound of a babblingbrook. Cement steps on a "lovely grass-coveredhill" needed to be replaced by natural-lookingstone steps. Trees were planted with attentionto their location, size, spread of the leaves andtheir effects on the overall composition.Multiple pages cover Barbra's love of roses andof her extensive flower and vegetable gardens.The largest chapter of the extravagant bookdetails the interior of "The Barn," which Barbranotes she does not live in. The two-story wood-covered Great Room is a smashing entrance tothe building. It features a wrap-aroundbalcony, curved struts in the rafters ("I thoughtit would be more interesting if they werecurved"), random-sized floorboards and ablend of rough-hewn beams and smooth-crafted wainscoting and balusters. "It's theblend that always fascinates me-the crude andthe elegant." A huge library table made inFrance doubles as a dining room table. Next door is the Screening Room, withfurnishings all in a watery blue color, where thecover photos of both the book and the "Love isthe Answer" album were shot. "I prefermonochromatic rooms," she explains, butnotes what appears to be all the same coloractually has subtle difference in tone andtexture. A 17-foot movie screen descends fromthe ceiling at the touch of a button. Barbrarecounts the story when she discovered the twocenter beams were misplaced by an inch and ahalf to two inches so after an argument with thecontractor the beams had to be relocated.A silo in the center of the structure houses thespiral staircase connecting all floors with anautilus shell staircase that "culminates in theeight points of light from the chandelier, whichecho the eight rafters on the ceiling." The main floor also houses the jaw-dropping"Federal Lounge," the Mackintosh Hall, theimpressive Greene & Greene Library, a kitchen,a Napping Room, and a gorgeous "StickleyOffice." The interior design of the entirebuilding brings to mind the word "opulent."Every room reflects complete attention todesign principles of color, cohesion, beauty,tension, contrast and harmony-balancingthose opposites that Barbra writes about.Other words assessing the designs are exquisite,extraordinary, and astonishing. Upstairs, the Master Suite includes a custom-sized, one-of-a-kind four-poster bed made inLondon specifically to Barbra's specifications, adressing room with custom-etched glass doors,an octagonal shaped bathroom, a storage roomand on the opposite end, a gym and loft.The basement is filled with a street of shops,including Bee's Doll Shop (with her collectionof dolls and doll houses), the Sweet Shop, theGift Shoppe, the Root Cellar, the AntiqueClothes Shop (including many of her moviecostumes), the Georgian Display Room (for hercollection of china and crystal), and the ArtNouveau Rooms.Chapter Four covers "Grandma's House," aninformal California ranch-style house, whichshe bought in 1994 and redecorated toresemble a cottage on Cape Cod. Homespunquilts, lace curtains and natural fabricsdominate. Portions of many of her recentalbums have been recorded here.The final chapter is "The Main House," whichclearly shows Barbra's love of Americanfurnishings, design and art. "I love this housedearly," Barbra writes, "I love it, I love it." Inthe photo of the front door, Barbra's beloveddog "Sammy" stands by Barbra (Sammyfrequently appears in photos, on Barbra's bed,laying on a Duncan Phyfe sofa, standing at thedouble front gate of the property or watchingwhatever is pictured). This formally designedhome features paintings by John SingerSargent, Thomas Hart Benton, Mary Cassat,Charles Peale Polk, Robert Henri, WilliamPaxton, as well as other American artists. "Thepalette in the foyer was inspired by theAmerican flag," Barbra writes. The LivingRoom was designed around two throw pillowsshe bought 30-some years ago. The elegantburgundy and cherry-colored Dining Roomfeatures her collection of antique cranberryglass. The Den includes a subtle olive greenpaneling, with gold highlights on the "classicfluted lines of a Corinthian Pilaster."Bookshelves house many of Barbra's awards.Warm wheat-colored chenille dominates theFamily Room. Barbra notes her bedroom is"the color of vanilla ice cream . a soft ivorywhite" which gives the room a sense of quietand serenity. Barbra's sitting room features twodesks, books, comfy chairs, end tables, a setteeand glass-covered shelves. Family photos fillevery table. "This is where I really live," shewrites.Barbra says, "My whole life, in a sense, hasbeen a search for beauty." "I long for beautyand things you can count on," Barbra writes.She also notes the need for love, kindness,friendship and giving back. Certainly "MyPassion for Design" demonstrates heraccomplishment in all these areas. As sheconcludes, "All that's left to do now is to be inthe moment . and enjoy it!"