Behind the Scenes

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DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU photo shoots are horrifically stressful, dreary events. They’re a blast! Filled with creativity and artists making magic.  My gig covering the warm and wonderful Tracy Rochestie’s story for this month’s Santa Barbara magazine had so many fantastic moments/quotes/details/design inspirations/and behind-the-scenes fun, that it wouldn’t all fit in the article.  Soooo, here’s the rest of the story about the 1939 house designed by famed architect G. Lawrence Stimson called “Villa Florence”….

This is Tracy the Mystical Goddess gathering organic goodies from her garden for the crew’s lunch. “The dinosaur came with the house and we move him around.”  (all quotes are from Tracy, btw)

The Bourbon Street-esque entry  hints at the magic to come.  As did the intoxicating aroma of scented candles that greeted me as I opened my car door.  So chic. 

The motor court’s labyrinth, designed by Tracy, is really too beautiful to drive over.  Actually, I was compelled to follow the curving spiral, but my car’s turning radius isn’t that tight.  “When I first saw the house I thought, “the first thing I have to change is the driveway.’ ”  And, while husband Howard was away….

Santa Barbara mag’s Art Director Alisa Bales Baur lining up a shot in the entry.

“The Fortuny chandelier, which is a little nod back to New Orleans, we got on our recent trip to Venice.”

Genius photographer (and all around adorable person) Lisa Romerein studies the shot she just captured.

Look at this INCREDIBLE original lighting detail at the ceiling!  The most divine Art Deco treatment is in the living room with a Lalique fireplace surround. (Wanna see a pic? Open the SB article!)  Also original.  Just makes me want to cry.

This brilliant bank of radius windows (original) is duplicated at the other end of the house in the master bedroom.   “That is a 120 year old painting of a female nude on a rowboat in San Francisco Bay where I was born,” notes Tracy.  The ceiling light?  Yup,  original.

Light check is a never-ending job during these things.  The guys are in charge.  And yes, no shoes for ANYONE until the shoot’s over!  We don’t want to have to photo-shop out footprints…

“The ‘Florence’ pattern flatware I bought on Ebay – all the tableware is vintage. I use everything  everyday! ”   “Florence” also being the name of the home, if you didn’t pick that up earlier.

Notice the Buddha gazing out and the Christian LaCroix water bottles.  Love.

Tracy – who is very spiritually “in tune” –  says her husband Howard’s aura is violet and that she knew she had to do his office in this rich peacock blue to compliment it.  More complimenting with the Missoni pillows and throw.  And the Sam Francis work in the bookcase.

And these are Howard’s shirts.  Which match his office.  And aura.

How can you not love a laundry room that was once a silver vault?  An alarmed silver vault.  “I used zinc walls so I can throw up pics of everyone with little magnet dots. “    She’s pointing to pictures of one of her gorgeous sons – from a while ago.

Think this is the garage?  Ha!  Actually it does double duty as Tracy’s car’s bedroom and Tracy’s Workshop for Wizardresses.

“I even have Christmas tinsel up!  I have tea parties and crafts in here. It’s really healing.  I do something creative everyday.”

Lisa and Alisa discuss the best angle to show off the master bath.  Alas, there is no bad angle, so the discussion drags on….

“I love the marble because all the lines shows it was made during a time of major seismic activity.  We reused a lot of the marble that was here before and included a piece as an inset on the shower bench.  This is Latin:  ‘Bathe with vision and light and water.’   There’s something about light and water that represent divinity to me.”

As if the master bath wasn’t glorious enough, this powder room had me slack-jawed.  This wall of marble is inlaid with mother-of-pearl and golden orbs.

“My crew lead by Jason Lang would stay until 1 a.m. – I have a picture of Howard and I in here on our anniversary all dressed up after coming home from dinner because our guys wanted to surprise us and worked all night!”

What you don’t see is the room is an oval; the ceiling is gold-leafed; the chandelier a vintage George Washington Smith piece from a salvage yard.  And my pupils are the size of quarters.



Shoot’s over – time for chow under the arbor.  Standing is Tracy and Lisa.  Seated on the left (front to back) is the World’s Most Beautiful Executive Editor, Gina Tolleson, Alisa and hard-working intern Shay Massey.  The bohemian cutie seated on the left is Tracy’s son Taylor.

Not only is the aroma making me drool, check out the gros-grain ribbon tied around the kitchen towels.  Tracy loves details.  Me too.

Howard heads to the wine cellar to unearth some festive libations.


Nomi, Tracy’s son Tam’s puppy comes for a good-by kiss.

And the quintessential end to any photo shoot – the jostling of cars.  SB Mag crew, photographers, photographer’s assistants, interns, make-up artists, hair stylists, Tracy’s sons, and Nomi (who thankfully didn’t drive separately) all scramble to let the poor writer (who’s Jag is squished at the left end of the top row) out to head back home to Topanga.

Now for the GOOD pictures, check out the story in Santa Barbara Magazine!
















  • September 21, 2011, 5:10 pm  Reply

    exquisite!!!!, but we never expect anything less when it comes to Tracy.

  • Suzi Bodine
    September 27, 2011, 9:07 am  Reply

    Tracy always wanted a house that reflected her and who she is – well, she did it! Her home is exactly who she is! Beautiful and special on the inside and the outside! The house is absolutely stunning and so is she! I am so happy for her!

  • March 4, 2012, 3:30 pm  Reply

    Love the HAPPY shot! Fun …

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