Garden Street

Even the seawater, lapping up against the shore, is golden in Santa Barbara. Due to the Santa Barbara Channel’s extensive natural off-shore oil seeps, and its position being hemmed in by the numerous Channel Islands on the horizon, the flotsam and jetsam—tar—floats beachward, glittering. Baby oil is your best bet at removal. Despite the tar, you always go in the water, it’s so inviting, dazzling.

Santa Barbara: cool coastal breezes, George Washington Smith Spanish colonials on every corner, State Street, the Solstice Parade, Subarus galore, the ocean, everywhere. It all started for me in Santa Barbara, a yearly summer vacation to see family friends, eat fresh cherries from the farmer’s market curbside as the Solstice Parade shimmies by and confetti eggs are smashed atop heads, a place where one received Our Daily Bread, or, more specifically, a bakery where we ordered poppy seed cake layered with cream cheese frosting. My mom worked here when she attended UCSB; at the end of the day, the owners always gave her a big pink box to take home full of unsold cookies, muffins, and cakes. I tricked her into ordering my first caffeinated beverage, a mocha, there when I was in seventh grade. She said she was disappointed with my actions. I got grumpy from the crash later. I learned.

My mom lived on Garden Street, during her time in Santa Barbara, in a big old mansion that had been filleted into small apartments; her living room had been grafted on at some point and enclosed with a tin roof. Yet, down the way, at the intersection of Garden and Mission Streets, is 2010 Garden Street—my architectural dream, my Platonic bed, my original architectural love. We’d always drive past it in a Toyota minivan of some sort, driving past my mom’s old place on the way to the Mission, The Queen of the California Missions, and when we returned home to Orange County, I’d pull blank sheets of paper out of the printer and try it draw this house, 2010 Garden Street, from memory, adding an imagined floor plan to bring it all together. And, now, this golden house is for sale.

The exterior, a golden of hue of stucco, is very Mission Revival in nature: thick walls and columns, plentiful porches, undulating rooflines emulating presidios and mission cloisters. This home, located in Santa Barbara’s Upper East neighborhood along fabled Crocker Row, right up against the mission, was built in 1897 for William H. Crocker, founder of Crocker National Bank, which is now Wells Fargo.

I am quite enamored by the numerous original details—the leaded glass, the fantasticly latticed windows and doors. This home has rich features that could serve as an anchor for future renovations and personalizations of the structure. For instance, what if we panneled the stairhall in a richly hued wood carved with simple, yet substantial panels, and illuminated the space with a unique modern chandelier, perhaps something Italian and circa ~1970?

The plethora of fireplaces just call out for unique tiles, mantels, and colors schemes! Just for starters, Exquisite Surfaces has numerous tiles, such as those below, that could further the spaces!

In this same vein, I am a huge advocate for the easy, breezy, clean, and crisp stark white walls in this home, and would hope to accentuate them with rugged, handcrafted furniture mixed with sophisticatedly spare art pieces, such as the scenes and feelings created at Diane Keaton’s old home in Beverly Hills as documented in Architectural Digest. And books; I’m always an advocate to adding, and reading, many, many books. The physical weight of the exterior beauty of the home must be replicated on the interior to foster and facilitate the casual, sturdy elegance this home oozes.

The gardens frame both the pool as well as the view to the Santa Ynez Mountains beyond the hedging. I very much appreciate the wish to continue the Mission Revival theme through to the cabana from the style of the main house, as well as the mission a mere four blocks away, yet would entertain the idea of a somewhat more slender, trellis sort of structure, or perhaps a structure that included a separate pool-side bathroom—there are so many options! A trellised vine, my heart wants wisteria spans with drooping Monet blue clusters, while my head wants to train Coral Vines (Antigonon leptopus), which can be found at places such as Tree of Life Nursery, located in San Juan Capistrano, with their “pink when you’re blushing inside, baby” blooms, a California, and drought friendly, native plant, at the base of the columns.

What if we gave them a dash of what art historian Peter Benson Miller’s Puglia retreat, as seen in T Magazine, posseses—whimsy, pavers, plants spilling out of beds, layering, and citrus trees, plenty of citrus trees.

I am the BIGGEST floor plan connoisseur, enthusiast, addict. Whenever I see one, I must stop in my tracks and breathe it in, analyze it, imagine myself in the spaces. This floor plan signals all the luxuries of the gilded age—a vast center hall separating the living and dining rooms, wrap around porches, turrets, and extensive service areas, which have since been transformed into more modern rooms and functions. Many additions have also been made to the property, such as the Sun Room, which, while adding much needed informal, and centrally located, family space, does somewhat detract aesthetically from the rear composition, yet this type of house, constructed at this particular time, was solely meant to be viewed from the front, from a carriage passing along a once much quieter Garden Street—a world where calling cards were left in little silver bowls on dark, centered, circular tables in the entryway. A life lived for show: when a house commands such an iconic, elevated corner location, what else can one do?

The house, with 5 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms, encompasses 4,620 square feet on a roughly 23,000 square foot pie-shaped lot. This is another feature I am quite excited by—the large, visually captivating, pie-shaped lot. This type of shape, due to it not being square or rectangular, enables a designer to tackle angles and sightlines from a different vantage. Luckily for this house, it’s major viewpoint is set between two exquisitely placed mature palm trees, the verdant, when not in drought, Santa Ynez Mountains. Yet, I am left with one question regarding the situation of the lot—where is the garage? For me, this space would be an investment worth making as, not only does the stature of the property call for one, but also the convenience and storage opportunities afforded would be deeply appreciated. I would create a detached garage at the farthest rear points possible, and connect it with a long, sturdy, mission-esque, reserved, arbor back to a laundry room door in the main house, possibly bumping out the arbor in a central location to create that new covered sitting area poolside. This house exudes potential—it’s already golden, and just asking for a good polish.

The house, listed by Colleen Beal of Compass Realty, is currently pending sale with a listed asking price of $3,999,000.



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  1. The dog statue house is for sale?! I love that house and that dog and the memories of driving by it on the way to school every day. You made the house come alive again for me.
    Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

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