Oprah in her Montecito, California, home.

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Oprah sits on a sofa in her teahouse facing the view—not any view, but the view, the reason she bought her Montecito, California, home and built the teahouse in this spot.

Through an arched door framed by wisteria, stairs lead down to a long gravel path bordered on both sides by roses. An elegant copper fountain sits right in the center. Beyond, the path seems to vanish into ocean and islands.

Oprah's attention, however, is not on the view but on the very near distance. On grout. Yes, the grout on the stone floor.

"I chose the color of the grout," she says, "and I chose the particular kind of gravel that was right for the rose garden, and another kind for the pathways. Grout color and gravel size would drive most people nuts. But it's all part of the process for me."