What was once a wooded setting for raising polo ponies is now a grand, country estate in northwest Oklahoma City. Jerry Ellis and Gina Volturo-Ellis learned of the property three years ago and bought it to complement their lifestyle that includes cooking, entertaining and raising horses. The Ellises share the estate with Frito, a donkey, and Sister, an affectionate Australian shepherd dog.
The 10.5-acre setting features the 7,000-square-foot home, a stable with indoor/outdoor arenas and a smaller home nearby.
A winding road through a secluded area sets the stage for this idyllic portrait of exquisite country living. The home’s two-story entry foyer makes a dramatic first impression.
“We made no structural alterations,” Gina Volturo-Ellis says. “Most of the changes were cosmetic, and we repurposed many of our furnishings. This is our little ranchette. The interior design includes Italian, a little French, a little Western, and a whole lot of eclectic.”
The spacious floor plan is ideal for entertaining. Several areas were renovated for more inviting seating. One was hidden under a stairwell. Ellis used a sofa from her past to create an intimate conversation nook.
The Ellises wanted design drama – thus, a rich palette of turquoise, salmon and orange and a mix of prints. Some white walls are accented with pale tints or glazes.
“I’m definitely not afraid of color,” Ellis says.
Unusual furnishings, upholstery, art and accessories enhance the home’s grandeur. Ellis’s heritage shows in Italian art and accessories, including Byzantine and Moroccan influences.
This home now reflects the couple’s mutual interests, including golf and estate sale shopping. Both have home offices for their oil and banking careers. Jerry Ellis’s office overlooks the formal living room. Ellis’s cozy atelier is adjacent to a guest bedroom. A closet became her gift-wrapping studio.
The renovation’s magnitude required professional help. Ellis knew exactly who to call.
“Dindy Foster and I have been friends since childhood,” she says. “Our mothers were close friends. This is the seventh house Dindy has helped me decorate.”
The owner of Dindy Foster Interiors in Tulsa, Foster, and her associate, Lesa McClish, designed interiors reminiscent of Ellis’s childhood home.
Ellis wanted jewel-tone colors, comfortable but distinguished furnishings and a unified feeling throughout the home.
Working with existing furnishings, the designers added texture with tile, marble, leather, velvet, silk and linen. Shutters provide privacy in many rooms. Existing herringbone-patterned floors enhance eye appeal. Animal prints – foxes, zebras and birds – bring wildlife inside.
“It’s a peaceful setting, and the house is so comfortable, yet elegant,” Foster says. She and McClish were houseguests while the interior was morphing into a grand showcase.
“Staying here is like being on vacation,” Foster recalls.
Guests enjoy the home’s welcoming spirit. The kitchen, adjacent den and cozy dining room are the heart of the home. Guest bedrooms have restful motifs. The poolside cabana is home to bright colors and casual furnishings.
“The result is traditional design with a sharper edge,” Foster says.
Among the home’s surprises is a “19th hole” golfer’s oasis for Jerry Ellis – an unexpected birthday gift from his wife. It includes all the trappings for entertaining his golfing friends, including a golf course simulator.
“The view from every window is beautiful,” Ellis says, especially the pool area – the centerpiece for outdoor entertaining. The terraced lawn leads to a fire pit, with rustic seating.
Although the polo ponies have moved on, the tack room is getting a facelift for additional guest quarters. With the Ellises’ love for hosting visitors, the welcome mat is always out at this company-friendly home.