A Soulful Renovation in Santa Barbara Brings the Mountains Front and Center

A Soulful Renovation in Santa Barbara Brings the Mountains Front and Center

By Alia Akkam
A restrained revamp by Anacapa and Bailey Peace Design emphasizes the rolling landscape.

Surrounded by stately oak and eucalyptus trees and exhilarating Santa Ynez Mountain views, a couple living in the stylish enclave of Montecito in Santa Barbara County were understandably enamored with the location.

To complement the charred cedar cladding Vista Residence, the outdoor furniture is crafted from the same wood.

A fire pit between two wings of the home encourages outdoor living.

But the homeowners, an opera singer and talent manager, weren’t completely happy because they yearned to savor it from a remodeled house. Craving something bolder, a place that fully engaged with the glorious outdoor setting, they hired a contractor. When he realized he needed additional help with the overhaul, he suggested adding Anacapa to the fold. 

Anodized aluminum-and-glass sliding doors are all that separate guests from the peaceful environs.

Dan Weber, founder and principal architect of the Santa Barbara–based firm, wasn’t too impressed upon seeing the abode. "It was a pretty drab, California ranch-style with a brown shingle gable roof and T1-11 composite wood siding, but it was sitting on this amazing piece of property," he recalls. 

Although the 2,500-square-foot dwelling did not expand in size, its personality was completely transformed by Weber’s decision to amplify mountain views through vast spans of glass along the north facade. To maintain the minimalist vibe, a standing-seam metal roof now caps the home. 

Fusing the residence with its stunning backdrop was a priority for architect Dan Weber. It also stands out from the area’s abundance of estates with rolling gardens. "The shou sugi ban works really well with the native California landscape," he says. "The oak trees’ canopy is dark forest green."  

From the beginning, Weber determined that a dark palette was one of the best ways to revive the residence, but realizing that the budget was modest, he was ready to merely paint the siding that was already in place. As the couple became more invested in the renovation, however, they sprung for the higher-quality alternative of shou sugi ban.

Usually, it's the gorgeous stretch of coastline that gets attention in Montecito, but here it's the mountains. Ample outdoor perches allow guests to revel in it.

Anacapa replaced the original board-and-batten exterior siding with cedar weathered by the shou sugi ban technique, and the petite adjacent guesthouse—used as an office when friends aren’t visiting for one of the owners’ meditation retreats—now flaunts the same look. 

Inside the main house, dropped ceilings were eradicated, leaving the wooden ceiling structure exposed to lend a sense of openness, an impression that is reinforced through the overall revision of the floor plan. 

Friends often camp out at the guesthouse, but on most days, the couple enjoy it as a workspace.

"A couple of small bedrooms were combined to make one master suite, the bathroom suite was enlarged, and interior partition walls were removed to make one huge space," Weber explains. 

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"Our guiding mantra was: space is the ultimate luxury. With this house it was of the utmost importance to feel serenity," explains Bailey Peace Design's Betsy Peace. "And so every choice was constantly filtered by asking the questions, ‘Is this necessary? Does this belong? Can it co-exist without distracting the eye?’"

Santa Barbara studio Bailey Peace Design handled the interiors, and the objective, says cofounder Betsy Peace, was bringing the outside in, "collaborating with Anacapa to create a quiet sanctuary with clean, modern lines, softened by elemental materials." 

Even the shower embraces the neutral palette.

Hushed white walls, for example, contrast with the dark, burnt shou sugi ban exterior. Even the couple’s writing desks were crafted from the same big tree, fostering dialogue between indoors and outdoors. "The result is nature glowing against the shou sugi ban in perfect harmony, and the interiors almost feel as though you are outside," adds Peace. 

In the open-plan living area, one of the highlights is the natural light-filled kitchen from Italian manufacturer Armony.

Other than the pendants over the bed and the sconces in the dining room, all lighting fixtures were chosen to blend with the architecture and grounds. Each piece of furniture was handled like a fine sculpture, and materials, including the stone used on the countertops, possess a certain dignity. 

"Lighting was orchestrated to move with the time of day, so that as the sun sets, the outside would be felt," says Peace. 

"We poured concrete floors to expand from the inside out, so that it feels like the house is floating," says Peace. "The neutral palette of earth tones allows for texture and grounding."

More by Anacapa:

A Gorgeous, Off-Grid Guesthouse Perches Lightly on a California Ranch   

A Dark Midcentury Becomes a Luminous Gem

AutoCamp’s Epic New Location Brings Upscale Airstream Lodging to Yosemite National Park        

Project Credits:

Architect: Anacapa (Dan Weber, principal architect; Jose Sanchez, project manager / @anacapa_architecture

Builder/General Contractor: Richard Scibird

Structural Engineer: Ashley & Vance Engineering

Interior, landscape, and lighting design: Bailey Peace Design (Kelli Bailey and Betsy Peace)

Cabinetry: Armony

Photography: Erin Feinblatt

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