Barclay Butera prizes the pool and alfresco dining areas for their “sense of privacy and protection.” The gated property encompasses half an acre, where mature gardens envelop the home and its outdoor living spaces with fruit trees, desert plants, bougainvillea, and a small vegetable garden.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY PATRICK KETCHUM
Timing is everything in life — especially in real estate. This truth became apparent again to Barclay Butera with the purchase of his most recent Palm Springs home.
The Newport Beach–based interior designer first saw the Movie Colony property while it was under construction two decades ago. For various reasons, his attempt to purchase it back then fell through. But he wound up buying the house in fall 2020, when he was ready for a new retreat and project. “It was like fate,” he says.
The Spanish Colonial Revival hacienda dubbed Villa Butera does double duty. It’s Butera’s home twice a month, when he visits Palm Springs for a change of dreamy scenery, and is also a rental property. “It’s a little escape from Newport, which is a beautiful place to live, [but] the desert just has a different feel,” he says. “You hear this all the time. The minute you hit those windmills and the mountains, your body decompresses.”
Butera is an accomplished pro whose lifestyle business portfolio includes multiple showrooms, furniture and product collections with various makers, and five books about décor. His sixth volume, The New Traditional, hits shelves this month.
Villa Butera is the eighth home he has owned in Palm Springs.
He has also developed a fluency in Palm Springs residential transactions and projects.
Villa Butera is the eighth home he has owned in Palm Springs over the past 27 years, including the Twin Palms Frank Sinatra Estate. So, a renovation of a relatively contemporary vintage removes an entire set of pressures compared to taking on a midcentury modern restoration.
The stunning half-acre property’s “sense of privacy and protection” proved to be a major selling point, as were the citrus trees and vegetable garden. The pool area in front of the house, enhanced with artful hardscaping elements, optimizes the mountain views and adds to the compound’s romanticism.
Following Barclay Butera’s interventions, the Movie Colony hacienda dubbed Villa Butera is “Spanish, but it’s not heavy Spanish. There are some playful elements,” the designer says. Chairs from Ralph Lauren Home Noble Estate collection upholstered in a mossy green damask velvet flank the central fireplace in the living room. right:Butera and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Clayton.
The interiors, however, needed help. Butera kept character-rich features such as terra cotta tile floors, rustic stonework, exposed wood beams, wrought iron details, and a Revival-style fireplace that calls for convivial gatherings. (The same can be said of the outdoor fire pit.)
But he made key changes and transformed it.
Stylistically, “it’s Spanish, but it’s not heavy Spanish. There are some playful elements,” he says, pointing to the gold leaf–treated diamond credenza by Barbara Barry for Baker Furniture placed in the family room and leaded glass star pendants, which nod to classic Spanish aesthetics. “If you go heavy Spanish, it’s going to darken the house.”
For the outdoor lounging zones, Butera devised two distinctive color schemes. Pool chairs and umbrellas pop with tangerine orange and corresponding bright shades. He opted for a cooler blue and gray palette on the back-patio dining area. “We have friends over for pool parties” he says. “It’s a nice house to just hang out in.” The fact that all three bedrooms — plus the charming casita — each have a patio and en suite bathroom makes the layout ideal for guests or for groups of vacationers.
Butera cut no corners and made no compromises.
As for striking the balance between designing a home that is truly his own and available to renters whom he does not personally know, Butera cut no corners and made no compromises. Instead, he carefully vets potential guests, both at Villa Butera and Villa Blanca, his six-bedroom property in Cabo San Lucas that he also owns and operates as a getaway rental destination.
With furnishings such as a Guy Chaddock dining set and Ralph Lauren Home Noble Estate collection club chairs, Butera designed the house to meet his personal high standards. And he delights in sharing it with others.
“You’re getting a taste of me,” he says. “I spend a lot of time in this home. It’s definitely an extension of me.