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For The Home

Santa Barbara-Style Remodel

Author: Roberta Landman
Issue: November, 2012, Page 94
Photos by Karen Shell

The homeowners credit architect Matthew Thomas with having the vision to modify the sunken living room’s existing massive fireplace into one that is less cumbersome when they remodeled their Paradise Valley, Arizona, home. In addition, three sets of French doors were removed and replaced with sliding glass doors that open to a covered outdoor room and the pool area beyond.



A Well-Planned Remodel Turns a Dated Residence Into a Santa Barbara-Style Jewel

Crisp-white walls, a red-tiled roof and plenty of wrought-iron and cantera niceties lend this dream residence the aura of a classic Santa Barbara home.

But this was not always the case for the Paradise Valley, Arizona, dwelling. Before a makeover, it was painted a dated peach color, and its windows were trimmed in bright turquoise, recalls the lady of the house. In fact, she laughingly says, it was one of those windows that sparked the home’s magical transformation. “It all started with fixing a leaky dining room window.”

The replacement window’s trim was brown, which meant another front-facing window had to be changed to match it. And then, why not change all the windows was the next thought, she recalls. One fix led to another, and she and her husband, former owners of a Chicago building firm, liked how the house was shaping up.

Recognizing its potential, they engaged the services of architect Matthew Thomas. The husband acted as general contractor, the wife as interior designer, and the trio gave the home new life, both inside and outside.

Removing a circular concrete driveway in front of the house allowed the construction of a much-expanded front courtyard, complete with a fireplace, spacious sitting area and tidy garden beds.

Wrought-iron bars attached to square columns support overhead fabric panels that can be pulled across the top of the gazebo to provide shade. The gazebo and fireplace were added to create a cozy poolside respite, complete with plush seating.
A gated motor court was installed near an existing three-car garage. Also added: an extra garage to house the husband’s collector cars. This “man cave” setting, complete with a bathroom and shower, is “his” special domain, but it easily can be converted to a guest casita if desired, notes the wife.

Backyard amenities, too, were improved, and included expanding a patio and refurbishing a pool and spa. A new laundry room came about by enclosing a breezeway.

Before moving to Arizona, the couple built every home they had lived in, and had gotten used to conveniences most houses do not have. So, among renovation changes, they added a bit more space and created two master bathrooms where there had been one.

A decidedly feminine bath is resplendent with mother-of-pearl tiles and a slipper tub, and a masculine space is Contemporary in spirit, with dark-hued tiles and woven-leather door panels.

The kitchen also was redone. Elegant new cabinets are painted ivory, while a large island’s base is black. “I designed the cabinetry and reworked the layout of the kitchen to make it more efficient in the existing footprint,” says the architect. 

While she added many creative touches to the house herself over the years, the homeowner credits Thomas with its updated Santa Barbara-style beauty. “We love the white exterior with the terra-cotta tile roof, the black wrought-iron embellishments, the cantera stone accents, the awnings shading the windows, and the travertine patios against the dark desert stone.

“It was not our dream house when we purchased it in 1998,” she remarks. But as the home “evolved” during the remodeling process, “it took on a dream-like quality. We both love our new home now and cannot actually believe it is the same house we began with.”

Iron grillwork and a decorative cantera apron bring attention to a small, deeply recessed window at the front of the house.

Changes to the front exterior included replacing a driveway with an expansive lawn of artificial turf—a move to save water; adding a front courtyard with a fireplace; and dressing up the entry with cantera trim for a distinctive new Santa Barbara look. Stucco walls painted white, iron details, terra-cotta caps on courtyard walls, and the existing red tile roof also speak to the style, notes architect Matt Thomas.
The dining room’s existing plank-and-beam ceiling was darkened to underscore the residence’s Santa Barbara flavor.


A study in contrast, the breakfast room, like the adjacent kitchen, features a black-and-ivory palette. Dark twin armoires flank a fireplace trimmed in cantera; the casual dining set likewise is dark in tone; and dark beams traverse the ceiling. Embellished with painted scrollwork, doors on built-in cabinetry with the appearance of an armoire open to a walk-in pantry.
An arched niche displaying a dramatic mirror makes a pleasing architectural and design statement at the end of a hallway.


Photos - Clock-wise from top left: A large black island, complete with a black granite top, ample storage space and a prep sink, anchors the newly remodeled kitchen. Decorative painting on the range hood mimics that on the pantry doors. The window bank looks out to the terraced patio and pool area. Existing Saltillo tile flooring here and throughout the house was darkened. • From the slipper tub in the picture window, to the custom vanity with its scrollwork and mirrored front, to the window swag and graceful chandelier, “her” master bath is all about lightness, elegance and femininity. • A subtle painted image of a violin graces the master bedroom’s fireplace overmantel. The brown tones of the fireplace surround are echoed in the room’s chiseled wood ceiling beams and the custom bed, which boasts carved and gilded embellishments. Floating nightstands tucked into the sides of the bed niche were designed as a space-saving solution. A tufted chaise lounge situated in the center of the room provides a comfy spot to curl up with a book. Tall windows bring in ample light and garden views. • “His” master bath shouts masculinity, with robust hues, lots of texture and an open, doorless shower. The ceiling, walls and floor are clad in dark porcelain tiles, and some cabinet door fronts sport panels of woven leather.

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