19th-century weather vane in Oprah's living room

Photo by Michel Arnaud, styling by Carlos Mota

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Figuring out how to furnish the rooms was not easy. At first, Ellie and her team researched Hawaiian fabrics and antiques, thinking that the rooms should reflect the locale. But that wasn't what Oprah had in mind. "They came with pineapple doodads and big flower things. They had everything but a hula skirt," she recalls. "I said, 'Whoa! If I want to see Hawaii, I'll just walk out my door.'"

The interior decorator went back to her drawing board, and by the next time they all met, Oprah knew Ellie was on the right track—especially when Ellie, a former folk-art curator, suggested they go shopping for the kind of extraordinary antiques that are part of the American heritage.

The horses on the hills surrounding the ranch provided Oprah and Ellie with a strong theme for the living room. On one of their shopping trips, a late-19th-century American weather vane in the shape of a galloping horse caught Oprah's eye, and Ellie made it the centerpiece of the room. The designer also transformed a reproduction tea canister into a lamp and placed it on a side table near one of the sofas, which were upholstered in a Boussac chenille. The curtains, elaborately embroidered in India, were also made just for this room.