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The King of Greens
Tina Borgatta | Photo: Cameron Gardner | June 28, 2013
When Greg Salmeri decided to redesign his Laguna Beach home, he went on a shopping spree—inside his own warehouse.
Greg Salmeri begins each day in his garden—a terraced, ocean-view haven set high on a hill in Emerald Bay. It’s a place of peace, filled with flowering plants and full of history. The property’s been in his family for two generations, and the garden is peppered with artifacts that Salmeri’s picked up during his travels across the country and around the globe. As the owner of Rolling Greens (rollinggreensnursery.com), he’s always on the hunt for special finds for his three shops (in Costa Mesa’s SoCo, and in Hollywood and Culver City).
So when it came time for Salmeri to renovate (a five-year labor of love that ended with the recent completion of his garden), he turned to his warehouse for design inspiration. “I buy things and hold onto them for years hoping that one day they’ll have a good home,” says Salmeri, who purchased Rolling Greens with his business partner in 2001. “When I did this house, I pulled out everything and gave it a once-over to see what I could use.”
Inside, you’ll find an eclectic assortment of antiques—ornate pieces from his mother’s collection (a gold clock, jade-carved fruit, a few paintings) mixed in with rustic elements that reflect Salmeri’s own personal taste (black wrought-iron chandeliers, a centuries-old sofa and the remains of a large, weathered crucifix). “I like anything that looks like it’s been buried for 75 years,” he says.
Outside, the eye candy is abundant. There’s an iron cross from France, circa 1700. “It lived in my storage for 12 years,” he says. “It was one of the first pieces I fell in love with when I went to France.” An oversized lounging bed from Indonesia (another early find) graces one corner of the yard. “It’s huge and heavy. Every time it had to be moved, I had to apologize for the pain it inflicted.” Among his favorite elements is a fish pond, filled with potted plants, “repurposed” gold fish and a bronze fish head scupper from France that he found at a friend’s shop in Phoenix called Relics. “The fish pond may be my favorite experience in the yard,” he says. “I didn’t want to have koi, so I chose feeder goldfish. They’ve grown to be amazingly beautiful, large goldfish.” And some items ended up being used in ways he hadn’t intended. “Two sandstone columns from India that flank the bocce ball court were going to be the entrance pieces to the dining room,” he says. “Much of my life and my design is based on improvisation. It seems you can plan carefully, but then you find out that life has other plans for you. It’s all about being flexible.”