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IN THE SILENT NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS when St. Nick reaches David and Patsy Marino’s Spanish Colonial Revival home in La Jolla, given the exterior aglow with lights he’s likely to expect a descent into the traditional fireside scene.

Whoa there, Santa. Prepare instead for a joyful psychedelic onslaught of color, where high art covers the walls and cookies and milk are left on a vintage Vladimir Kagan mosaic table.

A peek into the kitchen finds cookie jars that Andy Warhol would envy and a corps of jolly oversized soldier and mouse nutcrackers that could have escaped from a corps de ballet. A five-ring circus with carousels and a ferris wheel has pitched its tents in one end of the living room, all ready to entertain.

With not a creature stirring, not even the life-size reindeer in a baroque black chair, a gallery tour for Santa is in order. In the living room there’s a 1981 Manny Farber painting opposite the fireplace, a vision of sugary lollipops by Robert Townsend over the mantel and the aptly named I Wait by Vik Muniz. In the library, David Marino’s train collection lines up on cantilevered shelves, and seating is comprised of the Jolly red leather chairs by Witt-
mann. The dining room includes paintings by Joe Carter of Utah and Stephen Curry. A parade of holiday sweets, choreographed by Kimberley Buffington, marches down the dining room table from Diva in Los Angeles.

It’s a lot for Santa to take in. Perhaps it’s time for him to have a short snooze on the serpentine Kagan sofa covered in a gorgeous Kravdat painted fabric with felted wool ground.

“That ball of fur on the sofa that looks like a cat is only a pillow,” says Robin Wilson Carrier, the Marino’s friend and interior designer responsible for the contemporary furnishings.

The emphatically contemporary interiors are in stark contrast to the exterior historic tiled roofs, arches and Moorish ironwork. Casa Cañada, as the Marino home is known, has historic designation. Designed by Edgar Ullrich in 1929 as the Adams residence, it is an amazingly good example of Ullrich’s architectural style.

The home also is where David and Patsy were married in 2001. And in 2003, it was the scene of a SDH/GL holiday home tour. Wilson Carrier created the holiday look that year. Much of what you see today has been gathered in the years since.

“We still use some of those pieces but always add new things each year,” says Patsy. “We love Gump’s in San Francisco and Rogers Gardens in Corona Del Mar. I usually find great nutcrackers at Target, which the children spend hours playing with each December.” Daughter Gia, 10, and son Tate, 7, are a big inspiration for the holiday decorating.

“My old friend Patrick Higgins from Artistic Florals has been my holiday greens partner for about 20 years. I always can count on him to source the most beautiful tree, wreaths and garland and find new poinsettia colors each year.”

Kimberley Buffington of Flowerchild does everything from small intimate dinners for the Marinos, including at holiday time, to larger events for hundreds.

“She’s the most incredible florist and décor person I’ve ever worked with,” says Patsy.

Wilson Carrier has worked on the interiors with the Marinos since they married and her original style and blasts of color are well suited to the homeowners’ art collection. Colorful Murano chandeliers and Ralph Pucci’s classic Vladimir Kagan furniture counterpoint white Poltrona leather chairs and a carved black “throne” chair from Australia.

Throughout it all, holiday traditions endure and the sizzling décor shines through.

Homes: By Phyllis Van Doren • Photography by Martin Mann

November 05, 2014

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Toque Talk

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As someone who pays attention to cooking with healthy ingredients, I’ve used amaranth flour. Bernard Guillas, executive chef of The Marine Room in La Jolla, trumps me with the homonymous amaranth flower. He used one to garnish the best crab cake I’ve ever eaten.

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