Architectural Diversity in Santa Barbara

The California coastal city of Santa Barbara is known worldwide as a showcase of Spanish-influenced residential, public and commercial architecture.

The design style is, indeed, popular and plentiful in this enchanting town and its neighboring and affluent enclaves: Montecito and Hope Ranch.

Looking out over a cityscape of red tile roofs and white adobe walls from the scenic backdrop of hills brimming with 1920s and 30s era homes, it’s easy to understand why Santa Barbara is often referred to as “The American Riviera.”

Cristal Clarke, a top estate agent in California, said: “While it seems virtually everyone who lives and visits here loves the warm, romantic ambiance of our Spanish architecture.”

“Not everyone wants to live in a Mediterranean-style home.

“I’m currently representing over 20 listings, ranging from a mid-1970s Santa Barbara triplex to a pair of Montecito French country-style estates.

“Of course, I have listings considered to be “Mediterranean” in design and feel, but those comprise less than half of my current portfolio.”  

One of the “French country-style estates” Clarke is referring to was built originally in 1947, which indicates the area’s architectural diversity has been alive and well for decades.

Within a mile or so of that French-style manor is a second estate Clarke represents that is neither Spanish-Mediterranean nor French inspired. Combining elements of Modernism, post-Modernism, Neoclassicism and Art Deco, it is a singular example of a clean, minimalist aesthetic.

Just down the road is yet another Modernist-inspired home that graces Clarke’s collection of luxury homes for sale.

Although multi-level homes are plentiful in Santa Barbara and Montecito, single-level contemporary and modern ranch-style residences also grace the communities.

There is an abundance of sprawling ranch homes in nearby and fittingly named Hope Ranch as well. The style seems quite appropriate in the enclave, which is spread over rolling, tree-studded terrain hosting miles of equestrian trails.

Reflecting on the home designs prevalent in the communities she covers, Clarke said: “Architecture of a place tends to naturally favour the backgrounds and tastes of the residents there.

“For example, in recent history, the area that’s now Hope Ranch was ranch land. Its topography lends itself to buildings favoring a horizontal plane and, of course, horses. It follows that the enclave’s homeowners have always favored ranch and hacienda-style architecture.

“On the other hand, in the first couple decades of the 20th century, wealthy individuals and families from the East Coast of the United Statesdiscovered Montecito and built grand estates incorporating more sophisticated architectural styles.

“Noted architects such as George Washington Smith popularised the Spanish Colonial Revival style in Montecito and Santa Barbara. The bottom line is, there is a home, or home away from home, for all tastes here.”