Houzz Tour: A Vision Come True in Santa Barbara
When Bella died a few years ago, Dana returned to their favorite beach to scatter her beloved companion’s ashes. “I had always wanted to live in Santa Barbara and decided that this was as good a time as any,” she says.
With no job or friends in the area and no fear to hold her back, she began her Santa Barbara home search. “I’m a very intuitive person, and I actually saw a vision of the house I would live in,” she says. “I could see the name of the street, the garage that was to the left of the house and the mountains behind. When I told all this to my Realtor, she thought I was nuts.”
Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here: Beth Dana and her new dog, Finn
Location: Santa Barbara, California
Size: 1,200 square feet; 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom
After being outbid on more houses than she could keep track of, Dana was ready to throw in the towel — until she got the call from her agent. “She said to me, ‘You’ll never believe what I found: the house you had described to me initially. The house you saw in your head.’ To top it off," Dana says, "the tenants living in the house had trashed the place and refused to show it to prospective buyers, leaving the owners in a desperate situation. Because things got so ugly between them, my offer was the first and only one they entertained and accepted.” Though the 1920's house was a charmer, it required major work beyond the superficial damage done by the previous tenants. Most of Dana’s money had to go into features that aren’t visible. For starters, the foundation was in desperate need of fixing. But once that and other behind-the-scenes issues were remedied, Dana was free to focus on the work she loves best: the design.The exterior got a facelift with new gates for better curb appeal, privacy and to keep her current dog, Finn, safe. Dana, a proficient gardener, added new plantings around the foundation and succulents to the house’s front window boxes.
AFTER: The former owners had refinished the floors and upgraded the kitchen, but despite many important upgrades, there were some overlooked areas, such as trim. “While this house had some crown molding, it had zero baseboards or trim,” she says. “That’s like cake with no frosting.”She remedied this by adding trim and baseboards appropriate to the house’s character. She painted them and new plantation shutters in glossy Simply White and contrasted the trim with walls painted in Thunder, both by Benjamin Moore. “I prefer giving a room’s base a neutral palette and adding pops of color to it with fabrics and accessories,” Dana says. “This offers a calming, spa-like effect that feels welcoming every time you walk into your home.” Mirror over mantel: Porch
Dana kept furniture costs to a minimum by reusing almost everything she had from previous homes. The original front door creates a welcoming entrance. “The entire glass panel opens. There was no way I was going to get rid of it," she says. "I love the vintage character of it and its original crystal doorknobs. It’s important to keep old pieces wherever I can."Blue velvet curtains, canvas chairs, pillows, coffee table: Pottery Barn; white vase: West Elm; found antlers on the mantel: a gift from Bella during one of their many hikes
The art above the love seat "was painted in 1977 by an artist named Thomas,” Dana says. “It used to hang in my childhood home, and it always made me happy. I told my mom that if she were to ever give it up, I would happily take it. Ten years ago she gifted it to me, and it still makes me just as happy today.”She bought the sofa 20 years ago in Boulder, Colorado, and had it newly slipcovered.
The dining room also uses the same colors as the adjacent living room. “When you have a home this size, it’s important to stay consistent with colors,” she says.The dining table, made of reclaimed barn wood, was a gift from Dana’s sister and is a favorite among guests. The chairs came from her previous homes.Some of the flowers shown here are from Dana's garden.
AFTER: She decided to create a 4-foot opening above the oven to rectify the problem, which in turn would capitalize on the sunlight pouring through the dining room’s large windows. The only issue was the existing antique oven, a feature she would have loved to keep, but it was too tall to allow the full cutout. Dana conceded that the antique stove had to go to make way for a smaller oven. “Though I really wanted to keep costs down, the only oven I could find with a nice stainless steel siding — a feature that I wanted to see on the end as opposed to a black plastic finish typical of lower-grade ovens — was a Viking.”The previous owners had recently remodeled the kitchen, and Dana decided it was unnecessary to waste those new, quality materials. Some of it wasn’t to her taste, but she embraced the black honed soapstone countertop, subway tiles with a black strip running through them and a center island topped with Carrara marble.
AFTER: She made some significant but inexpensive changes by painting the original yellow walls the same Simply White color she used in the living room, and painting the oak island with gray paint left in the garage by a previous resident. “I added the shelves on either side of the refrigerator area, because you have to get creative with storage in houses of this size," she says. "The unexpected bonus is that the books add color and visual interest. They act as art.”The door on the left leads to her backyard artist’s studio.Bar stools: Cost Plus World Market
Dana is an artist and enjoys friendships with many other artists. One, Patricia DeLeon Alfonso, added her creativity to Dana’s kitchen by way of this painting. "I really love the crisp whiteness of the kitchen walls, but it was feeling too white when it was all done," Dana says. "This painting adds a perfect counterpoint to the whiteness by acting as a colorful — not to mention my favorite — focal point."Next to the painting hang the original casement windows. “At some point one of the previous owners swapped them out for ugly 1950s-era louvered windows,” says Dana.“I was fortunate enough to find these originals stashed — in good condition — in the garage.”While her in-home treasure hunts have led her to find some great pieces that she was happy to reinstate to their proper places, she found the house’s many original doors cumbersome to the house’s flow. As a result, she removed some and sold them on Craigslist. “I found this to be a helpful way of keeping my budget on track,” she says.
AFTER: She paired a vintage-style Kohler tub, sink and fixtures with a low-sheen subway tile in the shower stall and hexagonal tiled flooring. “No matter how vintage I wanted the look, I learned long ago not to skimp on plumbing and fixtures,” she says. “You get what you pay for. Fortunately Kohler has some great retro-style selections to choose from.”
She kept the same vanity frame and door but extended it by about a foot. “This offers so much more storage space but the look remains the same," she says. She continued the Carrara marble theme from the kitchen island with a remnant she found for a fraction of the price of a larger slab.Sconces from Home Depot also helped keep costs manageable. “You have to draw the line with the budget somewhere,” Dana notes. “What I do is determine my favorite styles at high-end stores, then look for a similar fixture at a big-box store.”Shower curtain, hand towel: Anthropologie
The bedroom packs a cozy punch with inexpensive but meaningful furnishings.Side tables: Mexican antiques; wall paint: Pashmina, Benjamin Moore; lamps: Target; duvet: Restoration Hardware; headboard: Ballard Designs; gold pillow: Botanica, in Santa Barbara; armoire: the first piece of furniture Dana ever purchased, from a shop in Colorado
Though this wanderer has called many cities home, she and Finn are now happily situated in their home sweet home for the long haul.Browse more homes by style:Small Homes | Colorful HomesEclectic Homes | Modern HomesContemporary HomesMidcentury Homes | Ranch Homes | Traditional HomesBarn Homes | TownhousesApartments | LoftsVacation Homes...