I always forget how beautiful Santa Barbara, California is until I return and experience it once again. It’s not only the architecture – which I love and appreciate more and more with each visit – but it is the lifestyle! Great food, fabulous wine, moderate climate, sea air, and landscaping. What landscaping! That which barely survives in Phoenix absolutely flourishes in Santa Barbara. Some of the plants are right out of Jurassic Park or Dr. Suess.
I just returned from a two day jaunt with a client last week whereby we did a little research into the “Santa Barbara Style” for a house we are designing for them in Paradise Valley. What a great trip. We did a lot of walking, ate some wonderful meals, and I took nearly one thousand photos in the two days there.
Day one started at a newly constructed private residence in the hills of Montecito. The home sits on approximately 25 acres and overlooks the oak covered hills slowly rolling their way to the Pacific shoreline. Spectacular! The “H” shaped plan allows light to flow freely through all of the spaces – every room has a view either to a courtyard or the ocean. Wonderful finishes, windows, and of course landscaping.
We then made our way to Steve Handleman’s wonderful shop and studio in Santa Barbara www.stevenhandelmanstudios.com/. Steve’s studio specializes in custom, hand forged iron chandeliers, sconces, lamps, fireplace screens, etc. He has been designing and making handmade iron products for 35 years and his work has adorned many of our homes during that same time period. I love his passion and commitment to his craft and the part it plays in the overall composition and completion of a home.
Next, it was time for lunch downtown. We enjoyed a great little spot right on State Street – Pascucci www.pascuccirestaurant.com. We had a quick bite and we were off touring the downtown area and all the great buildings, courtyards, and endless details. Right in the middle of town is the historic Casa de la Guerra www.sbthp.org/casa.htm, This restored 19th-century adobe building captures the authentic feel of Santa Barbara of old. We then proceeded to the Santa Barbara County Courthouse www.santabarbaracourthouse.org/sbch/ which has to be one of my favorite spots to see in Santa Barbara. Constructed in 1929, this has been the site and home of the local government. The detailing, use of cast-in-place concrete, murals, painted ceilings, tile and stone work, and landscaping is very inspiring.
The day was quickly winding down so we stopped in the Cheese Shop in downtown Santa Barbara www.thecheeseshopinc.com and picked up some wine, cheese, salami and of course a crispy baguette. Finally it was off to the Santa Barbara Mission. www.santabarbara.com/points_of_interest/mission/. It is set in a beautiful setting up on a hill overlooking the City of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean beyond. Just to the south of the foreground lawn is a great little street with a whole row of beautiful Santa Barbara style homes. After walking around the neighborhood for over an hour and snapping away we found a bench in the foreground park and popped the cork and enjoyed our goodies and relived all the sights of the day.
After regrouping and freshening up at our hotel we made our way to our final stop of the day at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, www.fourseasons.com, for a quick evening stroll and dinner at Bella Vista under the stars and a sweeping view of the coast. My wife and I have stayed here for our anniversary several years ago – it is definitely a special place for me.
The next morning started with a private tour of one of the most published, George Washington Smith homes, Casa del Herrero - www.casadelherrero.com, “house of the blacksmith”. Built in the early 1930’s this is definitely a must see when coming to Santa Barbara. I could have spent hours here and I think we did spend about two with our tour. The home and gardens are stunning and the docent led tour is very factual and educational. We were blessed with a glorious morning and being the only people on the tour really made the experience memorable.
We made one more stop at the Biltmore Hotel to take in some details of the hotel by day, grabbed lunch again at the Bella Vista, and then it was off to the airport and back to Phoenix. In two days I took nearly 1000 photos and enjoyed the one-on-one time with our client in such a wonderful setting. Should you ever wish to embark on a Santa Barbara or Spanish Colonial Home this is definitely the place to start the journey.