Palm Springs Style

4.5.2005

By Bart Boehlert

Designer Barclay Butera does it all. The Los Angeles decorator runs a company with 107 employees including 27 designers, produces his own luxe furnishings and accessories, operates showrooms that sell other top lines, decorates homes for clients, and refurbishes houses as investments. What makes Barclay run? His Mormon background, among other things. 'When you're gay and Mormon there is double the pressure because it's such a hard issue for the religion to deal with,' Butera explains. 'So you become an overachiever.'

After a spontaneous weekend visit to Palm Springs, Calif., two years ago, the designer became enamored of the resort community and bought a 1950s house. Butera painted its adobe-red exterior a clean white and installed a sleek pool with a 12-person Jacuzzi. Inside, he paired black slab concrete floors with a glossy mix of luxurious furniture and objects.
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His work on this house led the self-proclaimed traditionalist to a passion for mid-century architecture and Hollywood Regency Rat Pack style, so he recently bought the famous Frank Sinatra Palm Springs estate. In Beverly Hills, Butera now lives in Desi Arnaz Jr.'s former estate, which is currently being redecorated. 'I'm taking it back to a glamorous Auntie Mame era complete with a white baby grand piano and crystal chandeliers,' he promises. 'It'll be an over-the-top Hollywood house.'

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