Dana Spain’s Mediterranean-inspired home was designed with the consummate hostess in mind.
Opulence and splendor: With its 1930s Art Deco lacquered butterfly piano, custom crystal chandelier, and sweeping staircase, the 30-foot-high foyer serves as an appropriate introduction to this Bella Vista mansion.
It would take businesswoman and philanthropist Dana Spain and her then-husband, photographer Michael Spain-Smith, three years to construct their Mediterranean-inspired villa, designed by Mount Airy-based architect Joel Levinson. The lengthy process involved demolishing two existing structures, pouring new foundations, and casting the stones that were individually laid to form the façade.
Taking advantage of his artistic eye and her keen interest in design—and buttressed by an insatiable appetite for shelter magazines and a series of buying trips to Paris’s celebrated flea markets—Spain and Spain-Smith handled the interiors themselves. Adorning the 10,000-square-foot home with a discerning mix of Art Deco antiques and sumptuous stones and woods, they accented it with an eclectic collection of artwork (like a framed Erté silk scarf in the elevator) and suspended two dozen glittering chandeliers from 12-foot-high ceilings.
They divided the house into three zones: public space, private space, and a “man cave”—complete with a wine cellar—that these days acts as a home office. “The strength of the house is that it was designed for entertaining,” notes Spain, who mentions a Casino Royale theme party that she hosted. “That was always a premium for us.”
The entry floor is a host’s dream, starting with a four-car garage and extending through to a landscaped 1,000-square-foot rear patio with a Jacuzzi, built-in grill, and wood-burning fireplace. In between are sitting rooms, media spaces, powder rooms, and a built-in butler’s pantry. And who could forget the kitchen: A fantastic display of mahogany ribbon veneer cabinetry, custom hardware from the atelier of Edgar Berebi, and coffee-bean granite countertops, it’s outfitted with three ovens, a warming station, and a serpentine stainless-steel Elkay sink that can serve as a raw bar. Best of all, there’s enough room to comfortably accommodate 40 or so guests. “No matter how big a house is, everybody wants to congregate in the kitchen,” Spain observes. “I thought, Why not build it so that can happen?”
Moving into the other entertaining spaces, a dramatic Art Deco bar is nestled in one corner backed by a Lalique masque de femme, and a floor-to-ceiling honey onyx fireplace sets the tone for a gracious seating area. Nearby, a streamlined 1930s Wurlitzer butterfly piano—so called because of the “wings” that can unfold from either side—holds pride of place under a sweeping staircase topped by a multitiered crystal Schonbek chandelier, designed specifically to fit the 30-foot-high space.
The master bath, modeled on those at the Park Hyatt Paris- Vendôme, is clad in creamy Breccia marble and features two French chandeliers from the 1940s that are a favorite of Spain’s. “I was really lucky to find a pair,” she says. “They’re so feminine—each petal is an individual piece of glass.”
A sumptuous red and black Asian-inspired sitting room boasts oak floors that have been ebonized with 11 coats of lacquer. “I’ll really miss this room,” Spain says. “It’s powerful but very serene.” The same could be said of the home’s recurring motifs—coiled women and cats, at rest but ready to spring—and of Spain, a go-getter who has started businesses and embarked on renovations with repeated relish.
Now, downsizing to a condo on Washington Square and jump-starting her real estate development business, she’s up for another change. “But don’t worry,” she laughs. “I will still be throwing huge parties.” For more information, contact Kristen Foote, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach Realtors, 210 W. Rittenhouse Sq., Ste. 406, 215-767-0754
PHOTOGRAPHY BY HeRB enGelsBeRG