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Inside Oprah's 'Promised Land' Mega-Manse, Pre-Makeover

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Photos courtesy of O, The Oprah Magazine; click to enlarge!

In this month's O, The Oprah Magazine, Oprah Winfrey reveals more than she ever has, really, about her house-hunting and interior-design exploits—how she came to settle on, and eventually decorate, the 23,000-square-foot Montecito, Calif., mansion she later named "The Promised Land." After buying a Chicago apartment (her first of two), a farm in Indiana, and a penthouse in Florida that will be forever linked, in her mind, to some crazy-sounding "Italian commode phase," plus searching for an old plantation house in the American South, the media mogul was shown this SoCal property in the early aughts and "my jaw dropped," she writes. "It was a Georgian mansion minus the Georgian heat and humidity." Smitten, the good lady purchased the estate for more than $50M (or so the rumor goes) in 2004, choosing "every hinge, every piece of furniture in here," and filling it with "gilded mirrors, marble urns, the lavish carpets and the sherbet palette—it was all very grand, but it wasn't very true to myself." So, to recap: green checked wallpaper isn't her thing anymore.

Kicked into gear by a blunt remark by the interior designer Rose Tarlow—"This house has nothing to do with you"—Winfrey has enlisted Tarlow for a drastic three-month redecoration. Yet not before being her reliable, open-book self about some of the errant decor decisions she's made: "Apparently, a hand-embroidered pillow from the 1800s doesn't scream, 'Kick back and have a drink!'" Plus: "I guess these pieces could work in the White House, but they never felt right in my house." And best of all: "It's not easy to do an entire library that says, 'Do not touch the books,' but I somehow managed." Whether Oprah will keep a smidge of the traditional or go balls-to-the-wall modern remains to be seen; for now, check out the place the person who ranks No. 151 on The Forbes 400 list has called home all this time.

· All Oprah Winfrey coverage [Curbed National]