Paved and parterre gardens, set behind tall green hedges, a staple of certain Santa Barbara neighborhoods, and elevated above Santa Barbara Street, number 1732, stands, anchored between the thick, shaved trunks of mature palms. The site of the house, a mere 5 blocks west of William Mooser III’s 1929 Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a sumptuous example of Santa Barbara’s implementation of the Spanish Colonial Revival, with its restrained white plaster walls, wrought iron grille work, and striking towers. 1732 Santa Barbara Street, a home with a stately exterior—an amalgam of Mission Revival, Beaux Arts, and Craftsman styles—lords over it corner, located at the intersection of Santa Barbara and E Islay Streets.
Architect J. W. Bagley designed this home in 1904 for the Huning family. The home encompasses 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms within its 5,593 square feet, and is located on a roughly 20,000 square foot lot.
What if we played with the exterior color of the house—perhaps a sage green with terracotta trim? The massing is correct; the fenestration spot-on. All the architectural features, while certainly quite a mixture, all forward that wonderfully Gilded Age from whence this house is a product of: the age of robber barons, Edwardians, and Standard Oil—1904.
The deeply paneled rooms, complete with gas lamp light fixtures, recall a stage which is to be a setting for one of Edith Wharton’s drawing room descriptions, such as this one from The Age of Innocence:
“The tall lamps were all lit, and Mr. van der Luyden’s orchids had been conspicuously disposed in various receptacles of modern porcelain and knobby silver. Mrs. Newland Archer’s drawing-room was generally thought a great success. A gilt bamboo jardinière, in which the primulas and cinerarias were punctually renewed, blocked the access to the bay window (where the old-fashioned would have preferred a bronze reduction of the Venus of Milo); the sofas and arm-chairs of pale brocade were cleverly grouped about little plush tables densely covered with silver toys, porcelain animals and efflorescent photograph frames; and tall rosy-shaded lamps shot up like tropical flowers among the palms.”
These rooms scream out for potted palms, rubber plants, fiddler figs, and elongated ferns, all mixed in with something golden or silver and shiny.
My favorite room would be the room paneled floor to ceiling—I can just see my books lining the walls of the room, a large rectangular table centered in the space and ringed by 4 chairs, perhaps something with metal or acrylic or tufted black leather.
The staircase, with its sturdy construction and plentiful landings, is the true showpiece of the house. Its two story space offers quiet comfort and luxury while simultaneously providing artful windows and pillars, drawing the eye ever up, ever to a new vantage.
In regard to the furniture, I am very much drawn to the lines and color combinations employed by the Paul Mitchell Studio, where a modern day Mrs. Newland Archer could display their tact with design. The large round table employed in this home, located on Summit Drive in Beverly Hills, is quite striking, and, when paired with those chairs, is an automatic A+. In the living room, I applaud the use of natural textures and shapes when paired with modern, contemporary, or angular lines. I would also introduce a more professionally laid-out kitchen to this house, and remove the range from the island to a wall, thereby leaving the island clear for use as a buffet, seating, and preparation area.
The bedrooms would likewise get the Paul Mitchell Studio treatment.
The rear exterior, which I could definitely see in a sage green with strokes of terracotta trim, is centered on the beautifully mullioned windows that frame the stairways ascent. While the garage court, including the motorized gate, are seamless, I would like to better connect that area of the property with the rear garden, which I would fill with raised beds boasting corn, pumpkins, lavender, nasturtiums, basil, sweet peas, green beans, kale, butter lettuce, melons, cherry tomatoes, and more!Citrus trees would also need to make a pronounced appearance along the perimeter, perhaps potted in large terracotta pots in the Italian style, red geraniums potted at their bases. Red geraniums have always been a plant I associate with home; in fact, they adorn my parent’s front porch at this very moment. They’ll always be something I add to my designs.
As a native Southern Californian, I’m a huge pool advocate, which perhaps also stems from the fact that I did not grow up with a pool in my backyard, yet that’s a topic for a different post, yet, today, will solely advocate for an in-ground jacuzzi, fed by an aqueduct sized water feature. The inspiration for the water feature comes from backyard of the Toll Brothers Soleil floor plan model home, within the Alara neighborhood of the guard-gated Altair community in Irvine, California. The large circular fountain feeds a long aqueduct that delivers water into a shallow basin lined with river rocks, yet I would turn the basin into a large rectangular jacuzzi, and keep it in the deep, deep blue color of the basin. The succulents are also more than welcome in my dream yard as well.
Regarding the positioning of the new jacuzzi space, I would place it in the front yard, running parallel to the front façade, just beyond the twin palms when viewed from the front door, running along Santa Barbra Street. This situation would help mitigate any street noise by installing a water feature running the length of said elevation, and also allow for a new pedestrian entrance to be installed on E Islay Street, a two way street, thus allowing easier access and egress from the home. The backyard and motor court are already well-appointed and just call, to me, for a continued cactus, succulent, and California Native themed garden, all hedged in by toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), lemonadeberry (Rhus integrifolia), and hollyleaf cherry (Prunus ilicifolia).
1732 Santa Barbara Street is currently listed by Angela Moloney of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services California Properties for $4,795,000.