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For The Home

Hacienda-Style Montecito Home

Author: Nancy Erdmann
Issue: January, 2013, Page 84
Photos by Jim Bartsch

With the Santa Ynez Mountains in the background, the Pacific Ocean just a short drive away and a garden to envy, this California residence was designed as a family-friendly country retreat. The pool and fountain were added by the previous homeowners.



A Relaxed Country House in Montecito Melds Indoor and Outdoor Style

Montecito is known for its large estates, sprawling landscapes and captivating views. And just like in neighboring Santa Barbara, the town has long been a draw, with its Spanish-Colonial Revival architecture and Mediterranean climate.

For one couple, this coastal paradise offered the ideal environment for their family. While they alternately lived in other parts of California over the years, the pair eventually returned to the area for its quiet, relaxed lifestyle. In 2003, a 4-acre property in Montecito caught their eye, and they spent a year renovating the house and grounds for their family of five.

“The original adobe dwelling was built in the 1950s, and it was added on to and reconfigured in the ’90s from a long rectangle to a U-shaped Hacienda-style residence,” explains the woman of the house. While existing bedrooms were enlarged, a hallway added and a wine cellar constructed during the latest update, little else changed with the home’s footprint.

For general contractor Doug Ford, the project was about respecting the original architecture and making sure new construction blended with the existing home. Sometimes this meant replicating the look of adobe in areas where it would not have been practical to use the real thing.

Although lush and natural-looking, the plant palette on the property includes many arid-adapted plants to keep water needs as minimal as possible, notes landscape designer Rob Lane. Here, bougainvilleas, white roses, artemisia and Jerusalem sage create a verdant setting. On the wraparound patio just off the kitchen is a secluded sitting area where the homeowners enjoy morning coffee.
“The use of real adobe would have required complete redesign and rebuilding of the structural components of the existing portions of the home,” he explains. The technique he applied resulted in such a close match, that the difference is not readily discernible.

Throughout the residence, such elements as exposed adobe walls, wood and tile floors, arched openings, beamed ceilings and light-filled rooms exemplify Santa Barbara style. The house is comfortably furnished with many pieces the couple purchased while living in San Francisco. Over time, the homeowners added other items to the mix.

Central to the home’s design is the relationship between indoors and outdoors. “There is a view of the garden from every room,” says the woman of the house.

Visitors get their first glimpse of the richly planted property before entering the driveway. Forming a property wall that edges the street is a striking combination of red, fuchsia and salmon-colored bougainvilleas; starburst-shaped agaves; and giant fruiting prickly pears. “They are super tough, colorful and protective,” notes landscape designer Rob Lane, who worked on rejuvenating the property.

“The challenge was to be as eclectic as possible, while having the whole garden flow together as opposed to being a patchwork,” explains Lane. This was done by keeping a naturalistic style as the plantings changed from Mediterranean to temperate and back again. “To me, the natural, informal and Mediterranean qualities of the garden celebrate and complement Santa Barbara’s climate and physical beauty.”

For the homeowners, who enjoy spending time outdoors entertaining, relaxing with their children or harvesting fresh produce from their backyard, it truly is heaven on earth.


Separating the living room and foyer is a thick wall with a curved opening. The foyer's distinctive tile floor is accented with decorative insets. The living room’s distressed hardwood floor (foreground) is original to the house.
Many of the furnishings in the formal living room were incorporated from the homeowners’ former residence. The distressed ceiling beams and stone fireplace were part of the previous renovation. New windows with deep sills make it easy to enjoy the bucolic setting from indoors.


Skylights were added to the Farmhouse-style kitchen, where an arched tile backsplash mimics the shape of the curved family room entry to the left.
Adjacent to the kitchen island is a breakfast room (pictured at right) which was updated with a corner beehive fireplace and clerestory windows. An iron chandelier hangs from a beamed wood ceiling over a ceramic-topped table.


In the dining room, a pitched wood ceiling, exposed adobe walls and stone mantel and fireplace surround are characteristic of the home’s organic style. The corner hutch and iron chandelier add
to the rustic ambience.
A vine-covered outdoor dining room is used for family gatherings, dinner parties and Christmas caroling fetes, say the homeowners. Warmed by a raised fireplace, the cozy spot offers expansive views of the landscape.

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