Past Perfect: Richard Shapiro Houses and Gardens

Enter Richard Shapiro’s new book Past Perfect and prepare to be transported. Dive into its pages of exquisite photography by Jason Schmidt, sensitively designed by Mary Shanahan, and you will enter another realm. Take a deep breath of air redolent of ancient eras and far off places and then exhale as you make your arrival into his homes full of “serenity, beauty and wonder,” as Mayer Rus so aptly describes it in his foreword.

Past Perfect Richard ShapiroPast Perfect Richard ShapiroThe world of Richard Shapiro is not merely beautiful, it is a passionate evocation of beauty – a subtle yet meaningful distinction. The book encompasses his two homes, both highly personal romantic visions, or as he depicts, “fictions crafted and composed to allow for the suspension of your awareness of time and place.”

Past Perfect Richard Shapiro Florentine Villa

Created with an obsessive fervor for all that he loves – art, antiquities, architecture, travel – these houses contain a level of authenticity, details and brilliant juxtapositions that few would have the knowledge, patience or eye to complete. In Los Angeles, Shapiro’s Florentine Villa is his poetic version of a 17th century Tuscan country house. Above, a visually haunting vignette with Studiolo antiqued mirror behind a George III console with stone heads ranging from ancient Greece to 19th century.

Past Perfect Richard Shapiro Los Angeles

The master suite’s sitting area exhibits an embarrassment of exotic riches. An antique French stone fireplace is flanked by framed 16th century Italian clerical vestments. Personal mementos and acquisitions add layers of visual interest and idiosyncratic significance to the mantel.

Past Perfect Richard Shapiro Los Angeles master bathAnd while the master bath offers every modern convenience, its refined, understated and generous forms and materials feel of another era. New marble sinks are retrofitted into a found bronze frame and a classic yet oversized floor pattern is of Fior di Pesco and black marbles.

Past Perfect Richard Shapiro Tangier OutlookTangier Outlook is Richard Shapiro’s seaside home in Malibu. Sited on a dramatic promontory, he built his fantasy of a Mediterranean villa  – “a centuries-old Moroccan aerie posed above the Strait of Gibraltar.” Here his expert conjuring skills have imagined (and executed) a unique vision – where new and old coalesce into something timeless, something paradisiacal yet not specifically identifiable. Indoors effortlessly flows into outdoor living with endless vistas of sea beyond, connected by a twenty foot high wall of windows and french doors.

Past Perfect Richard Shapiro Malibu Tangier Outlook

The fictional ambiance of a semi-ruin, above, is achieved with “strategically eroded” plaster in this magical moment near the kitchen. Modern lighting and table seem somehow perfectly appropriate in this seemingly ancient haven.

Past Perfect Richard Shapiro Los Angeles garden The last section of the book is a master class, where Shapiro shares lessons learned in achieving optimal “patina, faux finishes, materials, and architectural detailing.” His elaborate boxwood garden, above, was inspired by the extraordinary example at Château de Marqueyssac. In order to defy the flat terrain, Shapiro created a system of concealed terraces allowing him to create a “topography of varying elevations” – another inventive conceit to achieve his desired effect of age and maturity. Past Perfect is not only transportive, it is transcendent. You will reach for this volume time and time again as inspiration, design lesson and beguiling journey to a “sequestered haven” where you can, for at least a while “live in a different and better world.”

8 thoughts on “Past Perfect: Richard Shapiro Houses and Gardens

  1. Richard is a Master Visionaire…an Old Soul as we used to say. He created The Grill on The Alley years ago in Beverly Hills…a favorite haunt of those in the know, aside from his other ventures in the world of high finance. My husband met him once upon a time on a flight back to Europe, and what a small world…since then we have dined together. He did a most beautiful room at the fabled Doheny estate called Greystone for Veranda Magazine not long ago, hosted by Ann Getty. His room was so chic blending modern with ancient…talented, sublime, polished and unassuming are his traits…refreshing in todays world of look at me people! Love his pool pavilion…and that Malibu dream!

  2. Stacey,
    Thank you so much -we bought the book yesterday at 7L & it is simply wonderful!!!!! So inspiring!!
    Happy Easter,

  3. This fellow is truly something . My daughter loves the blue and the mystique. A true pro.

  4. About 1987 or so I worked on a log cabin style home Richard having built. It was up in the San Bernardino mountains near Crestline in a rather isolated spot known as Sawpit Canyon. I know that it burned down years ago as did everything else in that area. I was wondering/hoping to find any existing photos of that ever so unique project. I lost everything in the same fire. Thank you, Daniel

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