Classic luxury: A guide to Santa Barbara-style architecture
Published Date: August 9, 2023
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.
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.
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.
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.
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