Travel Theme: Foliage | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer


From Ailsa’s travel theme: Foliage
She says: “anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all”.

This setting, over 100 years old, some described it Spanish, some said it was Tuscan and some called it plain California style, has remained in my memories as the most beautiful place I lived when I first arrived in California from my native Italy.
(Click on each photo to view it larger).


At night it was magical, we fantasized seeing Humphrey Bogart coming through the gate, or Clark Gable holding one of us in his arms. It was easy to make up these images, the suffuse light emanating from the old street lamps and the smell of the juniper threes, helped us creating romantic imageries.


The stairs to my studio were a set for many weddings’ photography and many painter’s inspirations, who came with empty canvases and left with the interpretation of their imagination imprinted on. Virginia Klassen, a German flamboyant woman, then 83 years old, impenitent single, harpist player in many European orchestras, often sat with me on these stairs to invite me in her memories of a life on the Orient Express, passionate lovers, lavish living and famous theatres of the world.


The gate to a perdition, as I called it. We were all artists of some kind, or musicians living there, all without kids and family. An architect, a designer from Italy (me), an image consultant from Sweden, a chef, a novel writer, a furniture designer, an opera singer, a flute player, a software engineer from Germany, a pottery designer and an expert in custom laws from Mexico. Every day, after 6:00 pm, as we closed our business, we would meet around the fountain with wines, food and music and spent a few hours together, but often we went into the small hours of the night. Conversation around many topics was interesting and enticing, friendship got tighter and tighter as we got to know each other better.


This was my small world away from home, where people welcomed me as their friends and where we all shared our pains, jokes, aspirations, concerns and family matters. Unfortunately, this place doesn’t exist any longer. An architect firm abated it to build high-rise, high-priced office and condos.


In my work as a designer, I often find a way to preserve something with a meaning, or history and incorporate it in the new design. Ciao,

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


Valentina Cirasola, is the principal designer and owner of Valentina Interiors & Designs. She is a trained designer and has been in business since 1990. She works on consultation and produces design concepts for remodeling, upgrading, new homes, décor restyling and home fashion. She also offer on-line consultations through Skype line.  “Vogue” magazine and many prominent publications in California featured Valentina’s work. She also has made four appearances on T.V. Comcast Channel 15. Check out her books on



11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Zen and Genki
    Oct 10, 2012 @ 04:19:38

    That gate is so lovely…



  2. TBM
    Oct 08, 2012 @ 11:26:47

    That’s a shame it isn’t gone. At least you still have memories, but what a shame.



  3. Jeff Sinon
    Oct 06, 2012 @ 09:28:25

    The story and the imagery make me feel as if I was there. It sounds like it was wonderful.

    I must single out the second to last photograph as my favorite. The depth of field, the light on the fountain, and the composition, are all beautifully captured. It makes me want to be on the other side of the gate to see to fountain up close.



    • Valentina
      Oct 06, 2012 @ 16:02:28

      Thank you Jeff, I am learning how to do better photography and I have a long way to go, but coming from you a professional photographer, makes me feel really good.
      The place where I lived then, was like being in a film set. I am glad you felt the vibrations.
      Thank you for taking the time to comment.



  4. Amy
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 17:49:54

    It’s a special talent that be able to preserve something with a meaning, or history and incorporate it in the new design! It’s so sad to know the place is gone…



    • Valentina
      Oct 03, 2012 @ 18:12:33

      it was a great experience while I lived there in all senses, people, environment and camaraderie.
      It was just as great pleasure to have a studio in a lush greenery and working while warbling from the opera singer, or the rehearsal of the flute player came through the windows.
      Yes, too bad the place is gone, but it’s well recorded with pictures and memories.



  5. josephine
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 07:08:13 … Poor Virginia, she must be turning in her grave! What an interesting person she must have been and her ‘home’ reflected it.



    • Valentina
      Oct 03, 2012 @ 15:49:33

      thank you so much for sending me the link on Virginia Klassen.
      She was an amazing, flamboyant, artistic and very outspoken woman. She often walked by herself in the middle of the small hours of the night with beautiful hats and clothes of a different era.
      I really liked her, but I especially liked to sit with her and listen to the remarkable stories of her life, which have remained so vivid in my memories.
      This piece of article brought back some happy moments with her and made me happy. Thank you,



    • Valentina
      Oct 06, 2012 @ 17:12:22

      Virginia Klassen, was an interesting person, full of colorful life stories and adventures. She slept in the morning and walked mostly in the small hours of the night wearing clothes from a different era.
      Thank you for sending the link, I relived quite beautiful memories. (BTW, I thought to have sent this message, my apologies if you received it twice).



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