By Olivia Barker, USA TODAY
GREENWOOD LAKE, N.Y. — There are those lucky enough to have a view of a lighthouse. And then there's celebrity hairdresser Oscar Blandi, who owns one.
Like most lighthouses, Blandi's comes with a past, albeit a checkered one. Standing three stories behind his weekend getaway, the circa-1920 tower once functioned as a Prohibition-era lookout: Someone perched atop would flash a code to alert lake residents when the police were on the prowl, putting an end to — or at least a pause in — the poker-playing and partying downstairs by the likes of Babe Ruth (the owner back then was a friend of the Babe's).
When Blandi purchased the three-quarter-acre property in 2002, the lighthouse was on its last leg, literally: Built on posts above the water, the tower tilted 5 degrees. "We were calling it the leaning tower of Pisa," the native of Italy says.
He righted it, mostly — in the room where Ruth used to gamble, a baseball would still roll down the gently sloping wood floor on its own — and Blandi continues to restore it. (It houses his Yamaha speedboat, windsurfer, wakeboards and water-skis.)
But in the interim, Blandi, 42, went about building his dream home: an airy, 3,500-square-foot, three-level house modeled after a cliffside villa in Positano, complete with stucco walls, terra cotta tiles and, of course, water views, including the vista from the second-story deck off the master bath.
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"This is what we work hard for," Blandi says, walking out the sliding glass door and surveying his liquid backyard. The house is so well-ventilated that Blandi hasn't turned on the air conditioning in 2½ years.
Blandi's creation is an ocean away from what he originally bought: a small, 1920s Sears kit house that was as crooked as the lighthouse. "It was so beat up," Blandi says. "It was spooky."
So Blandi warmed up the new one, with the creamy colors of butter and caramel. Even though it's an obvious summer retreat, it's also a cozy winter cabin of sorts.
A stone-flanked fireplace boasts a limestone hearth and, for the mantel, a wooden beam salvaged from the Sears bungalow.
When the lake freezes, locals take to the glassy surface with ATVs, snowmobiles and trucks and ice-fish.
Only 50 miles northwest of Blandi's Upper East Side apartment and eponymous salon, Greenwood Lake plunges 60 feet at its deepest and stretches 7 miles, straddling the New York-New Jersey border. The pivotal cabin-on-the-lake episode of The Sopranos' final season was shot here.
"It's the best hiding place," Blandi says, one where there's little chance he'll run into any clients. Blandi discovered Greenwood while skydiving. "I was seeing all these lakes scattered around."
Regular guests include his brother Luca, a senior stylist at the salon who's trying to buy the house next door, dog Diana, a 9-year-old Rottweiler-shepherd mix, and a pair of garden gnomes that hang off a rope out back.
And even if up here Blandi isn't sculpting the coifs of his coterie of A-listers — Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Biel — there's evidence of his star circle. A pair of candlesticks inlaid with mother-of-pearl stand by the fireplace; they were a gift from longtime client Julianna Margulies. Jessica Alba gave him the quintet of candles and glass votives that sit in the foyer.
While traveling with Blandi in Japan to promote Frida, Salma Hayek picked up 14 postcards, signed them and gave them to her hairstylist. Blandi framed them and hung them in his second-floor office, next to a miniature pagoda also procured during the trip.
"It's supposed to bring peace and quiet to your mind," Blandi says of the wooden Buddhist house.
Decorated with Asian and Italian influences, Blandi's house exudes an eclectic calm. "I like a little modern, a little antique," he says. "I never wanted anything cluttered, but I wanted texture."
So hanging near clean neutrals such as a pair of taupe leather chaises is an oil painting of Venetian gondolas. Another oil, a still life of fruit and decanted wine, is by Gaetano Boccheti, an Italian artist of the last century who also sketched the large study of a young man hanging in the foyer. Both were gifts from Blandi's dad, Alfredo Blandi, a hairdresser in Naples.
These days, Oscar Blandi's main focus at work is on his 5-year-old line of hair care products, sold at Sephora and Ulta. But his main focus at home (at least this one) is preparing for summer, when he'll get out on the water every day he's here from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., before the action starts. "You have the lake all to yourself," he says.
The best way to dive in? From atop the metal railing in front of the Babe's — and Blandi's — clubhouse: the lighthouse.
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