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The Secret of the Muse

From Morocco to Asia and Old World Europe: one whimsical property, a trio of culturally diverse dwellings hidden in Ojai.

By Mark Storer—Photos by Gaszton Gal

The “Renaissance House,” with English Tudor exterior elements and an Italian touch on the inside.

 

ne could be forgiven for not knowing Glen Muse even existed. The current owner didn’t and he has lived in Ojai for 27 years. Darakshan Farber named the estate—a collection of culturally diverse dwellings: European, Asian, and Moroccan—and resides in the main house, an English Tudor design.

The “Renaissance House,” as it has been dubbed, is a 9,000-square-foot blend of rich English Tudor exterior features with a decidedly Italian twist on the inside. “People have told me it’s a classic East Coast mansion,” Farber said. “It is a Tudor in the front, but as you walk in you can really sense the rooms have an Italian feel. But I’ve taken it more toward fantasy and have opened it up that way.”

Cathedral ceilings lend to the acoustics of the music room, site of weekly performances by the Ojai vocal group Madrigali.

Farber, who recently listed the house for sale, is an Internet entrepreneur, a musician and producer, and a spiritualist who believes in inviting friends to his home rather than retreating into it. “When we bought, I said I couldn’t live in a place like this without sharing it.” The electronic gates, designed to keep strangers out, were thrown open and people were invited in.

Active in Ojai’s Shakespeare festival and a member of the a cappella singing group Madrigali, Farber has used the house as a rehearsal space as well as the site of healing and spiritual events. Most people talk about what inspired them to create spaces in their home. Glen Muse is a home that inspires others. “So many people have come here over the years at different events and talked about the energy in this house, and that’s evolved from the artistic events to the spiritual.”

A sprawling round bed complements the turret room.

A few years back, Farber hosted ten Tibetan monks who performed a full ceremony with chanting, gongs, and prayers. “It was pretty cool,” he recalled. “These little Tibetan monks swam in the pool and played basketball, but they also prayed and celebrated ritual.”

The grand entry is a landing allowing a climb up the middle stairway to the main floor or a descent down to the lower level via a stairwell on either side. Hardwood oak floors run throughout the main floor and each room, including a library, music room, living room with a large sunken wet bar, dining room and kitchen.

Floor-to-ceiling oak warms the living room in the main house. The double-sided fireplace also faces the library.

In the living room, the hardwood floor is accented by hardwood walls and ceiling in ornate three-dimensional panels. “When I bought the house, one whole wall was an entertainment center circa 1985,” said Farber. “I had craftspeople come in and take that out. I didn’t want it to be a T.V. room.” The result is a wall that is now entirely oak, matched exactly to the original oak floor and ceiling.

Even in a house that has become a spiritual and artistic attraction, the kitchen remains the center of it all. Farber hasn’t changed anything, so the mid-eighties state-of-the-art technology (think built-in can opener and blender, forest green tile counters) maintains a clean but dated air. “I’ve had a lot of amazing chefs here. I’m not one of them,” Farber quipped.”

In the kitchen, natural textures create a comfortable gathering place; an adjacent butler’s kitchen allows serious cooking to proceed while guests congregate.

Behind the main kitchen is a fully supplied secondary kitchen where the bulk of the cooking for large groups gets done. A galley with heavy-duty stove and oven, as well as built-in marble countertops, this is a space dedicated to function, not form.

The kitchen opens up to a wide deck. It’s one of the larger improvements that Farber made. Instead of using wood to build the outdoor space, the deck is made from textured plastic. He had pillars and a turret removed so the view to a beach-approach pool is unfettered. The upstairs deck is a mosaic made by a friend of Farber’s who spent six months breaking up tile and placing it in circular patterns of blue and white with splashes of other colors like rose red mixed in.

Farber added a spiral staircase leading to a mosaic upper deck off the master bedroom.

Two more houses sit below the main house, each with a different design theme. There’s an 800-square-foot Moroccan-style abode and a three-bedroom house with Asian highlights: koi pond, willowy bamboo plants, and what Farber originally intended to be a Zen garden. (The family currently renting the house had other ideas for that space.)

Classic French hardware and stained glass windows add to the appeal of a bathtub overlooking the pool.

As he prepares to downsize and move out of Glen Muse, Farber is not looking backward, nor does he have any regrets. “You bring the right ingredients together and give encouragement and trust, and let things happen,” he said. “Here’s hoping that the next owners are happy and looking.”

05-01-2013

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