Classic luxury: A guide to Santa Barbara-style architecture

Published Date: August 9, 2023

Aerial of Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is more than a California coastal destination – it’s a lifestyle. Sun, surf, restaurants and distinctive architecture abound. And when you’re looking for a second home in Santa Barbara, there’s nothing quite like an authentic Santa Barbara-style home. Inspired by Mediterranean and Spanish Revival-style architecture, classic Santa Barbara-style homes have eight easy-to-spot characteristics. 

1. White stucco walls

Pure white stucco and plaster walls are a hallmark of Santa Barbara architecture, much like you’d find in Spain – after all, a Spanish explorer staked his claim on Santa Barbara way back in 1602. White walls serve as a blank canvas for the more dynamic elements of Santa Barbara-style architecture, including the ones that follow. 
Spanish style home

2. Arched windows, doors and walkways 

Rounded corners add a feeling of California casualness to Santa Barbara-style homes. You’ll find everything from subtle rounded tops on doors and window casings to dramatic floor-to-ceiling arches framing walkways, indoors and out. 

3. Exposed wood beam ceilings 

Visible wood beams on the interior of Santa Barbara homes warm up the white walls and keep living spaces feeling cozy and welcoming. Whether structural or decorative, dark-stained wood beams add a sense of sophistication, especially in great rooms with high ceilings. 
home with arched windows and wood beam ceilings

4. Earth tones 

Santa Barbara-homes style make wonderful use of earth tones and rich woods, providing another contrast to the stark white stucco and plaster walls. You’ll find warm tones in ornate wood doors, elegant light fixtures, handmade ceramic tiles, and decorative accents like rugs and linens. 

5. Red tile roofs 

An homage to true classic Spanish hacienda architecture, red roof tiles are a must-have. Typically made of terracotta or slate, these curved roof tiles are found atop privately owned homes and local landmarks like the Santa Barbara County Courthouse and El Presidio. 
Spanish style home with red roof

6. Stone fireplaces 

Classic Santa Barbara homes always have a grand fireplace. But grand doesn’t mean dark – these homes often have fireplaces in the same neutral color palette of the surrounding plaster, or accented with Santa Barbara sandstone. The locally sourced stone has a muted golden or buff color. 

7. Wrought iron accents 

Ornate wrought iron is another hallmark of this architectural style, and you’ll find it on balustrades, stairways, door and window hardware, and light fixtures. In some more dramatically designed homes, you may even find a spiral staircase crafted entirely from iron. 

8. Inviting courtyards 

Santa Barbara’s gorgeous year-round weather lends itself to indoor-outdoor living, so homeowners can often be found enjoying charming stone courtyards, surrounded by lush foliage.
Big courtyard with lots of foliage

Find your Santa Barbara second home 

Can’t resist the charms of a Santa Barbara home? Make the Central California Coast your second home destination with Pacaso. Become a co-owner of a luxury second home, and surround yourself in style. 

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Jen Lyons

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