OLLYWOOD — THE familyfriendly and celebrity-free one in Florida — is far less exotic than its Californian namesake, but one spectacular house in the Oaks Estate could well grace that other Hollywood. The vast Italianate exterior usually gets a “wow!” when viewed from the street. Boasting an 18,000 sq ft (approx 1,700 sq m) interior, the home is as big as 10 semi-detached houses put together.
Built five years ago by an Israeli businessman, the 12-bedroom, 13bathroom mansion comfortably accommodates the family’s seven children aged two to 14, plus staff. “As large as it is, the house is warm and comfortable,” says Liat, the lady of the house. “It really feels like a home.”
Stone lions guard the double entrance doors, defined by elaborate wrought ironwork and a glass Hamsa (an open hand, a sign of protection that also represents blessings, power and strength) set into the arched window above.
The foyer poses the question of where to look first. Should it be at the crystal-initialled doors denoting separate men’s and ladies’ guest toilets, or the two grand staircases with ornate iron baluster railings curving theatrically up to the first floor? What about the walls, embellished with silvery plaster leaves, the marble floor or the elaborate gilt table centred on an intricate onyx medallion?
A crystal chandelier, evoking a
SUMMER 2013 fleur de lys, reflects the sheen on two silver and gold leather chairs, paired across the foyer.
The home’s opulent design was inspired by the Roman, Persian and Ottoman empires. Throughout, there are palatial fittings such as vaulted Venetian plaster ceilings, hand-crafted friezes and finely carved woodwork. Every detail was designed with a meticulous eye, from hand-painted murals and textured wall coverings stencilled with damask-like designs to custommade, ornamental plaster panels.
There are three kitchens and two laundries. A third staircase is close to the family room, or residents can take the lift, with its silvery bronze walls and crystal buttons. Upstairs, leather-look ceiling panels, slate floors and dark wood cabinetry with monogrammed doors give an executive edge to an office and mini-conference centre.
Leisure facilities include a billiards room, a fully equipped gym with leather couches, TV and refrigerator and an eightseat home theatre with top-notch audio entertainment system.
Swarovski crystals gleam and shimmer throughout, on walls and doors, kitchen and bathroom cabinet handles and 40 chandeliers.
Light fittings draw the eyes upwards to soaring, coffered ceilings, some outlined with intricate mouldings, others enlivened by gold or copper leaf or textured to mimic crumpled silk.
Ceilings along the downstairs hallways echo the geometry of the floor designs below them — slabs of purple-veined quartz are framed in pale green and beige marble,