Giving Heart & Soul to New Homes
Interior designer Stephanie Parisi showcases masterful artisan touches and objects with a unique provenance to each of her projects. “Back east or in Northern California, there’s history integrated with so many houses,” says Parisi, who helms Del Mar’s Maison Soleil. “What I try to do is give heart and soul to the new homes in Southern California.” For a recently built oceanfront home in La Jolla, Parisi tapped the owner’s adoration of Italy for inspiration. “He just loves this place called Villa D’Este on Lake Como,” she explains. “He visits all the time. I wanted to bring that feeling to La Jolla.”
Among the home’s most standout features is the custom mosaic work, which Parisi painstakingly researched in Italy. “The owner has homes all over the world, so I wanted to bring in that ancient feeling. I provided sketches to our mosaic artist and he developed mosaic palettes based on that.”
One large and striking piece depicts a regal lion, while another floral motif mosaic includes verdant details that pop against more muted hues, its design cornered by four beautifully intricate exotic birds. The mosaics, which were created by an artisan from Los Angeles, would fit in seamlessly at an elegant Mediterranean villa.
The same goes for the home’s European-inspired murals, including a home office installation that extends to the vaulted ceiling. The painting, which has a timeless feel and complements an arched stained glass window, features an ancient rural hilltop village that peaks at a tower topped with an Italian flag. The dreamy blue sky dotted with clouds continues overhead.
On the home’s exterior, Parisi added centuries’ worth of lived-in character with trompe l’oeil fresco work. The expertly painted designs do indeed trick the eye, giving a three-dimensional impression of classic carved detailing and lending even more authenticity to stately columns and heavy wood beams.
“The outside looks like it was transplanted from Italy and brought over to a more modern house in California,” says Parisi.
For a recent project in Rancho Santa Fe, Parisi sought out the perfect repurposed pieces, another one of her design specialties.
“In my career, I’ve done antique shopping in Paris, London, and Madrid,” she explains. “I also love scouring New Orleans — they have amazing salvage yards with lots of history.”
Her RSF project has a somewhat contemporary vibe, so Parisi dug into her archives and found a door from New Orleans that originally came from Madrid. A light fixture snagged at a local antique shop (Parisi is protective of her top sources) once hung in France.
Parisi also sourced pieces from local architectural salvage experts, picking up unique artifacts from other estates undergoing renovations, including an arched wrought-iron door that she cleverly customized by fitting it between walls of modern-looking steel-paned glass.
What she can’t find and reuse, she recreates. “We do a lot of castings,” says Parisi. “That way we can change the size, too. We’ve done castings of mirror frames, furniture legs, pulls for doors, things like that.”
Parisi, who was finishing her master’s thesis in psychology when she discovered her talent for interior design 25 years ago, still makes good use of her former career training.
“The way people respond to spaces is very tied to psychology,” she explains. “I like to examine what elicits an emotional response.”
Parisi, who obsesses over books about historical design and decoration, believes natural elements and ornamentation are a sure way to connect. “It’s really a language that communicates to people and makes them feel good as they walk through and live in a space.” 858.792.0674, maisonsoleil.com ANNAMARIA STEPHENS
Photography by Beryl Byrd