Villa del Greco
Part 3: Three Fountains Get a Facelift

Back to Villa del Greco, this time to talk about how the garden’s new fountains came to be.

The courtyard and wall fountains were from a renovation that took place in the 1990s, while the home was from the 1920s. As I previously mentioned, the owner was keen on restoring as many original details of the home as possible, which meant keeping the ‘20s while ditching the ‘90s (especially its outdated technology!). She was also very concerned about how the updated water features would contribute to California’s ongoing drought; her wise choices actually meant that her water bill went down after installation was complete.

Central courtyard and wall fountain at opposite ends of the central axis – before (above left) and after
Central courtyard and wall fountain at opposite ends of the central axis – before (above left) and after
The only remnants of Villa del Greco’s original water works was this small fountain and two short rills.
The only remnants of Villa del Greco’s original water works was this small fountain and two short rills.

George Washington Smith (GWS), Villa del Greco’s original architect, was greatly influenced by his travels.  He was particularly charmed by the Moorish-influenced gardens in the south of Spain, putting to use the tile and water elements typical of southern Spain in many of the southern California gardens he would eventually build. For inspiration for our fountains, we took a trip to nearby Casa del Herrero, one of GWS’s master works.

Moorish-inspired tile fountains by George Washington Smith at Casa del Herrero (above) provided inspiration for the fountains at Villa del Greco
Moorish-inspired tile fountains by George Washington Smith at Casa del Herrero (above) provided inspiration for the fountains at Villa del Greco

Next, we went hunting for tile.  We were delighted to discover that many of the patterns are still being made.  Working from the sizes and patterns available, plus our inspiration photos, we began our design.

Tear sheet (with a few notes) from NS Ceramics - custom-colored Busby and Gilbert and Andalusian tiles
Tear sheet (with a few notes) from NS Ceramic – custom-colored Busby and Gilbert and Andalusian tiles

We repeated our Moorish star theme in the central courtyard fountain, embellishing it with additional decorative tile.

Central Courtyard fountain under construction
Central Courtyard fountain under construction

For the wall fountain, we continued with the same colorway, sketching various versions of the fountain, then selecting the one that we liked best.

Layout of wall fountain (left above) and wall fountain under construction
Layout of wall fountain (above left) and wall fountain under construction
Finished wall fountain (and new plantings) - Before (above left) and after
Finished wall fountain (and new plantings) – Before (above left) and after

Finally, we turned our hand to the remaining relic from GWS’s original garden: the runnels and the small sunken fountain in the historical Black Acacia allee, carefully restoring them in the same footprint and (mostly) pattern .

Sunken fountain and runnel under construction
Sunken fountain and runnel under construction

We restored the remaining original fountain, runnels and brickwork.

Restored runnel and sunken fountain. Restored statue in background.
Restored runnel and sunken fountain. Restored statue in background.

When we next return to Villa del Greco we’ll look at other great new tilework on site…

Tiled Moorish star medallion under construction
Tiled Moorish star medallion under construction

Thanks for reading!
xoxo    Margie


Sneak peak into our next blog post…

Touring Gardens with Carolyn Mullet

carolyn mullet

An interview with garden designer, social media influencer and proprietor of Carex Tours. Carolyn Mullet celebrates residential garden design along with her 1.1 Million Facebook followers. 


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3 thoughts on “Villa del Greco
Part 3: Three Fountains Get a Facelift

  1. I was fortunate to be able to tour and photograph this and many other old estates of Montecito in the 80’s and am thrilled to see this restoration. While not a strict “restoration” it is consistent with design, color, geometry and materials found in classic Mudejar design. A fabulous reinterpretation. While living in Spain as a child I fell in love with this architectural style and am heartened to see such conscientious, educated work. I live in Uruguay now and have yet to locate resources such as NS Ceramics. Fabulous work, Kudos!

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