La Bella Italia comes home to south Tulsa.
As the saying goes, “Home is where the heart is,” and that couldn’t be truer of Drs. Ben and Eugenia Johnson’s two-level Italian Renaissance style home.
When the couple decided to move back to Oklahoma from Florida, they engaged designer Sue Simpson of Zelda’s Interiors to help coordinate a new home that would take nearly three years to complete. The result of their work is the 18th century-styled villa filled with a blend of antique and new, custom Italian and French furnishings.
“Nothing in the house is fake or faux,” Eugenia says of the home. “We really wanted everything to be authentic and custom.”
The home could be considered an original work of art, from the custom designed formal dining room suite from Italy – a favorite of the owners – to the elaborate custom woodwork throughout the residence created by Chateau Designs in Tulsa.
The home is surrounded by a sophisticated courtyard arrangement outfitted for relaxation and luxury entertainment with a pool, spa and covered outdoor cooking and entertainment areas. Koi ponds and lush flower plantings designed with help from Barbara Day, owner of Sunnyside Gardens, along with Eugenia’s well-tended rose garden, surround the home with natural beauty.
The entryway and adjacent sitting room lead to a balcony and set the tone for the entire house. Two-story windows with French draperies and Venetian ceilings painted by local artists in hues of aged aqua tones complement the entryway’s domed arches and gold-leafed crown molding.
The area is graced with the stately presence of a large stuffed lion from one of Ben’s hunts, along with zebra skin and Persian rugs, also from his travels.
The living area pays homage to the couple’s world travels, with a mounted leopard above the hand-carved entertainment area and granite designs that remind Eugenia of her childhood in Russia.
Luxury caters to the interests as well as the needs of the owners. In this home, the couple has included a home theater that recalls the elegance of a bygone era of cinema along with a room to house Ben’s vast collection of outdoor tools.
“The design is built in layers,” Simpson says of the details that build upon each other.
Hosting guests is effortless with a bar designed by Ben himself, along with a prep kitchen and a cook’s kitchen complete with a Wolfe range and hand-carved hood.
The couple was extremely pleased with the collaboration between luxury builder Sam Hollinger of Hollinger and Associates in Tulsa and the local artists who made the project come to life. They planned all along to make this the home of a lifetime, for themselves and their family.
“I love this home,” Eugenia says. “My heart is here.”