Vince and Pat Ranalli’s home on the golf course in The Dominion is a stucco single-story Tuscan house. An Italian inspired tile mural accents the elevation, while a large car park dominates the courtyard. Two serene stone lions stand sentinel at the entry of this apparently peaceful residence. Cross the threshold, and you’ll find the exterior totally belies the truth of the Ranalli existence. This is a passionate Italian household, where children are cherished, fabulous family dinners are the norm, and art and design are paramount. The Ranallis are former ballroom dancing champions, the youngest couple ever to win the Harvest Moon Ball in Chicago. They were the opening act in Las Vegas for headliners such as Phyllis Diller and Ella Fitzgerald. “It was a lucrative hobby,” Pat says, “but with three young children, we needed something a little more stable. And we weren’t getting any younger, you know.” They moved to San Antonio, where Vince turned his talents to interior design with Diane Flack Furniture in the 1980s. He worked with her for 10 years and then opened his own design company. Even now, in semi-retirement, he works with clients from over the years who have become good friends, and he stays busy working at property management and other family businesses.
As a mortgage company professional, Pat is not idle, either. She owns Advantage Mortgage, where she works with her daughter, and is a partner with another daughter in Ba Da Bling Boutique in Artisan’s Alley. The pair still dance and occasionally give dance lessons at Dominion Club gatherings. In the 35 years they’ve lived in San Antonio, they’ve moved every four years. “What can I say? I like change!” Vince exclaims. Their move to The Dominion has lasted nearly eight years — is this house a keeper? “He’s talking about moving again,” Pat exclaims. “But he did such a great job designing this house that I’d hate to leave it.” Vince sought architectural expertise when building the house and subcontracted most of the work himself. He made extensive use of tile and marble from Design Materials. The elegant elements were a perfect complement for a home built to display the couple’s extensive art collection. “You can have a beautiful home with beautiful art,” Vince says. “It just takes some planning.”
Living In Art
The lighting, the way the rooms flow into one another, the materials used in construction — everything in the Ranalli home is art, in one way or another. It helps to have a design background, but much of what the couple has learned about art is self-taught. “We bought our first important painting, Laughing Fish Girl, in 1977 when we were on vacation with our kids. There was something about it that appealed to us, although the investment at the time made us think twice. In the end, we bought it because we loved it,” Vince says. “But we didn’t know a thing about the artist.” The painting has greatly appreciated in value over the years and led the pair to learn more about the artist, Wai Ming. “In the beginning we didn’t know that much about art,” Vince says. “We started visiting galleries and reading about different artists. We’ve spent a lot of time in San Antonio at the Greenhouse Gallery of Fine Art learning from other art patrons.”
Several sculptures are key parts of the Ranalli collection. “The sculpture Ascension was our first bronze,” Vince says. “It’s by Tuan Nguyen. We wanted a large sculpture, and this one takes three people to move it.” Another Nguyen sculpture, Repose, is the centerpiece on the marble and iron table in the entry. Richard McDonald’s Flight in Attitude is a favorite bronze prominently displayed in the living room. “As dancers, we were drawn to this piece,” Pat says. “It’s so graceful and shows such movement.” Another figurative bronze by McDonald, titled Nureyev, is one of a limited series. It rests in a niche near the entry. “We have four of McDonald’s sculptures, and we adore anything he does,” says Pat.
Dining With A Russian
Vince believes some of the best paintings today are coming from Russia and China. “The masters there are meticulous in their training,” he says. “As a result, I’m finding art from Russia and China is much more appealing.” He gestures at a large painting hanging behind the head of the dining table. “This artist is Olga Suvorova,” he says. “The piece, titled Chess Competition, was purchased from the Academy of Arts Foundation in Saint Petersburg. I emailed an inquiry about purchasing the painting and ended up ordering it through a wire transfer; it came through the mail, rolled up in a tube.” “I told him he was taking a big chance, ordering sight unseen,” Pat says. “I love this painting,” she adds. “If you look closely, you can see that bits of the painting are actually cloth. The colors are so rich and the expressions so enigmatic. When I look at this, I always wonder what she is thinking.” On the opposite wall are village scenes by Chinese artist Mian Situ. “Right now he’s our favorite painter,” Pat says. “The traditional costumes in his pictures are very detailed, and each picture seems to be telling a story.” The chandelier over the dining table is a piece of art, as well. Made of blown glass, it took six hours to hang. “Piece by delicate piece, they installed it,” Vince says. “There’s a long light tube down the center, and the pieces are attached around it.”
“I’m wondering how we’ll change the light tube when it’s time,” Pat muses.
Hanging in the butler’s pantry is a picture of a table draped in a cutwork linen cloth. The paint is so fine that at first glance, the piece appears to be a photograph. “Look at the intricacy of the tablecloth and the way Liu Yingzhao mixed the teapot with the Southwestern bowl. It’s just beautiful,” Vince says.
Living In The Red
Red accents are found throughout the home, but the color is most predominant in the family room, where in an art niche the color of dying embers hangs a Western painting by Roy Anderson. The scene shows five Indians at sunset and is called Buffalo Comanche. “Roy Anderson is well-known in this area because he exhibits at the Museum of Western Art in Kerrville,” Vince comments. Other pieces of interest in the room include large carved antique doors, a carved trunk and an elephant table, all from India. African headdresses, Native American pottery and other artifacts are positioned about the room for an eclectic presentation.
Vince says if he could change something about the house, he’d make the guest rooms larger. But the one that contains the rosewood canopy bed is perfectly sized for this unusual divan. The bed comes from India and is intricately carved, appearing far too delicate for use, yet Vince says it is quite sturdy.
Sumptuous Master Suite
The master bed, in contrast, is a large affair appointed with old wood columns connected by iron railings and softened by gauzy draperies. The platform bed features special under lighting. The upholstered headboard, plush pillows and a deep silk comforter make this an opulent centerpiece for the room. Paintings in this suite are of a romantic nature. There’s a portrait of Pat, looking much like Marilyn Monroe. Several other paintings of languid women are displayed around the room.
As much as they enjoy their home’s interior, the Ranallis are ardent about their backyard. A large rectangular pool and hot tub dominate the space. A comfortable seating area and table for four are tucked beneath the roofline, offering a shady place for morning coffee and protection from the evening’s setting sun. “This is my favorite place in the house,” Vince says. “It’s so relaxing to start the day here with a cup of coffee, listening to the birds. I can look out over the golf course and enjoy the view. All that grass, and I don’t have to cut any of it.” Now that is passionate living!