Interior designer Ron Wilson designed the Bel Air, California, residence of Mr. and Mrs. Bono, better known to all as Sonny and Cher. Mrs. Bono developed an eye and a feeling for antique furniture, while Mr. Bono became interested in collecting period paintings and bronze sculpture. The house, therefore, was an actual expression of their personal tastes, wherein the young owners participated actively in the creation of their stylish setting. The resulting home had a young spirit combined with the aura of solidity and permanence that a traditional home can offer. Pictured: A view from the pool area shows the scale and the Mediterranean styling of the house.
“I wasn’t going to let it scare the hell out of me,” Ron Wilson said of another Los Angeles home he designed for the young celebrity couple. Built in the 1930s, the house—with more than 40 rooms—made a strong architectural statement. It was one that the designer could not fight or upstage or change in any significant way. The point was to enhance the interiors. “Occasionally Cher would call to say something or other was awful. I always told her to look at it again and ring me in the morning,” said Wilson. Few changes were ever made. Pictured: The foyer.
“Cher asked me, as she did in 1974 when I decorated her house in Bel Air, to create an environment for her—as I understood her and her particular way of life. I’ve known Cher for many years, and her life has changed greatly. This house is how I see her personality today,” Wilson said of the Malibu, California, home he created for the entertainer in 1979. With the spirit of the owner in mind, Wilson sought to achieve an air of tranquility and simplicity through his design. Pictured: Columns demarcate the mirrored dining area, balanced and highlighted by a pair of late-19th-century Egyptian-motif faïence vases. The dining table, a hexagon of glass mounted on a sculptural mitred oak base, is surrounded by armchairs upholstered in stenciled leather.
“When I first saw the apartment, it was all white,” Cher said of her New York triplex. Wilson used neutral tones and textured faux-stone surfaces throughout to create what Cher calls “a prehistoric/futuristic look.” He once commented, “I’ve done all Cher’s houses for her, one after another, all 11. She stretches me to the limit, and then some. I’ve tried every trick in the book, used every drapery treatment, every floor material. She’s had everything—and she still insists I do something new.” Pictured: The third-floor solarium, which opens onto a garden, has draped gauze on the walls and electric shades on the slanted-glass ceiling.
Wilson completed the interiors of Cher’s adobe villa in Aspen, Colorado, in six weeks. She first saw the house in September, bought it in October and insisted that it be decorated and completely furnished in time to spend the Christmas holidays there with her family. “When she told me to do it by December,” recalled Wilson, “I said it couldn’t be done. She said, ‘Well, kick some ass and get it done.’ ” Pictured: In the living room, Wilson used raw silk on the upholstered pieces and kilim fragments on the pillows combined with antique accessories. “I understand how she likes to be surrounded,” Wilson said. “She likes large scale and simple, and she loves texture.”
Cher turned a 1950s house in Miami Beach into a grand villa that reflected her evolving taste, and for the first time, she did not use her longtime friend and mentor, interior designer Ron Wilson. Inspired by Venetian and Moorish design, the house was filled with religious art, richly hued fabrics, carved woods, scrolled ironwork and stone—a dramatic departure from her previous residences, which were marked by sparse furnishings, clean lines and minimal color. Pictured: “I wanted to introduce color that wouldn’t be overwhelming,” Cher said of the living room. Pieces from her former houses joined furnishings from Sanctuary, a mail-order catalogue that she launched. “I’ve always hated clutter, but now I’m surrounded by things I love to look at.”
The rear façade overlooks a blue-mosaic-tiled pool and the Pacific Ocean. “The infinity-edge pool is where I spend all of my time in the summer,” says Cher. “She’s above the beach—a mile from the water,” adds Wilson. “Her great love is Malibu.”
It is a mix of spirituality and spunk that makes Cher’s spectacular new duplex, perched high above Los Angeles, as gloriously original as its owner. Cher turned to friend and interior designer Martyn Lawrence-Bullard to help her conjure up “something ethnic, spicy and romantic”—albeit in creams, ivories, whites and buttery beiges.
Read more: AD Revisits Cher: Homes & Spaces: architecturaldigest.com