"The business side tended to grow over all the other aspects of our relationship," says Bailey, who had also fallen in love with filmmaker Billy Luther, with whom he now lives.
Barbato's new home is a classic California Mediterranean, with terraces, patios and a pool surrounded by gardens that climb the hillside. In stark contrast to the woody gentleman's club feeling of his former residence, it is filled with light that illuminates the walls, all of which are painted Navajo white.
Once again, Bernard picked up the pieces after Barbato started work with another designer. "I thought it might be weird since the two of us had worked with him, that maybe I should break away," Barbato explains. However, it quickly became evident that Bernard was "someone who could tolerate my crazy Italian behavior." Bernard also understood how to communicate with a filmmaker.
"Every house is character-driven," he explains. "The client and the architecture provide the inspiration. Then I have a certain sensibility that I bring to it. The only pigeonhole I feel comfortable in is that of the changeling. It would be the death of me to become known for a look I had to re-create over and over again."
Still, Bernard was creating a new home for a former client whose taste he had come to know well, as part of a couple he knew well. "There wasn't really any conflict," the designer says. In fact, there was cooperation.
"When I had some new chairs made for Fenton based on ones his father had designed," Bernard recalls, "we gave the chairs that they replaced to Randy. And the first thing I told him was, 'This is going to be your house. We can do whatever you want.' "
For the extroverted Barbato, Bernard envisioned bolts of color in the living room: a pair of midcentury chairs and a matching credenza by Edward Wormley in a bracing shade of coral, a rug with magenta tones, and wool felt carpeting in blue and green.
The layout is elegant and functional. A spare Finnish desk circa 1915 from the local antiquarian Lief Inc. doubles as a console table behind a European daybed flanked by Art Deco chairs and a chrome-framed settee. Modernist lighting fixtures, particularly one that appears to be made of blue bowling pins and multicolored geodesic domes, add levity and wit.
Upstairs, the mood is more subdued. There is rich wood furniture, including a contemporary bed by Charles Jacobsen, built-in cabinetry and weathered French club chairs of elephant hide.
Variations of green provide accent color in an abstract floral rug by Edward Fields. Elsewhere the texture is visual: brown check carpeting and sumptuous drapes in striped velvet by the midcentury fabric designer Jack Lenor Larsen, and what appears to be vintage Pendleton plaid shirt material. The effect is luxury without stuffiness, as rugged and refined as Rock Hudson in a tweed hunting jacket.
Utility was just as important as glamour for Barbato. That meant renovations: enlarging the master bath, encasing the tub in a wooden frame that makes it look as if it belongs in a 1920s yacht, and adding a media center in the den, making the TV visible from the pool.
"During Christmas week, my vacation was spent in that pool watching tapes of movies that were up for consideration for Academy Awards," Barbato says. But living by himself for the first time in his adult life isn't all about kicking it poolside.
"Fenton is very domestic. He's tidy and likes to cook. Aside from doing the garden, I had a free ride," Barbato admits. "We used to go to Starbucks, but now I make coffee in the morning, which I haven't done in 20 years."
Fully caffeinated, each in his own fashion, Barbato and Bailey meet at their Hollywood, 10 minutes or less from their respective homes. "They never wanted to be anywhere else," says Bernard. Hollywood has the same allure as New York in the '80s, where they all began their careers. "Being in Hollywood, in the thick of it, whether it's pretty or gritty. That's what excites them."