Cristal's Blog


May 20, 2024

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When it comes to embracing the quintessential Santa Barbara lifestyle, the magic lies not only within the walls of your home, but also in the seamless integration of indoor-outdoor living spaces. As a leading realtor in this picturesque coastal town, I've witnessed a delightful evolution in backyard trends that perfectly encapsulate the essence of Santa Barbara living.

Two dogs on a backyard patio.
Image courtesy of Pam Marks,

These backyard trends will make you want to spend every waking moment outdoors:

1. Petscaping 2.0
As a dog lover myself, I appreciate the art of petscaping, and apparently, I'm not alone. In fact, petscaping is one of the most popular backyard trends today. It's all about creating pet-friendly spaces that cater to the needs and whims of your four-legged family members, a safe haven for your pets to roam and play freely. Start by identifying potential hazards such as toxic plants, sharp edges, or escape routes. Implement pet-friendly landscaping techniques, such as using organic mulch and non-toxic plants, to create a lush, beautiful, and safe environment, and incorporate features that cater to your pets' unique preferences and interests. Install sturdy fences or hedges to create boundaries and prevent your pets from wandering off or encountering potential dangers. Add interactive elements such as agility courses, climbing structures, or DIY dog pools to keep your pets entertained and engaged.

Petscaping isn't just about functionality—it's also about creating a space that celebrates the special bond between you and your furry companions. Add personal touches such as custom pet beds, water stations, or engraved nameplates to make your pets feel like cherished members of the family.

    The pool deck of a modernist home with comfy outdoor furniture

    2. Stylish, Comfortable Furniture
    In today's outdoor design landscape, comfort takes center stage, captivating homeowners with a surge in demand for indulgent lounging options. Embracing the ethos of relaxation and leisure, slipcovered outdoor sofas, modular sectionals, and loungers like those pictured above in my Exquisite Jack Warner Contemporary Estate emerge as the frontrunners, redefining patio furniture with their irresistible blend of coziness and versatility. Think indulgent arrangements that transform your patio into a veritable oasis of comfort and style. Whether basking in the warmth of the sun or stargazing beneath the night sky, you'll find solace and serenity in the embrace of these luxurious furnishings.

    Overlooking a large bed of purple flowers to a serene pool, with verdant treetops and distant mountains in the background.

    3. Maximalist Gardens
    Step into a world of botanical extravagance as you embrace the beauty of maximalist gardens, where every corner bursts with blooms and lush foliage. Gone are the days of rigidly manicured lawns; instead, immerse yourself in color, texture, and scent to tantalize the senses. In a maximalist garden, diversity reigns supreme as flowers and plants of varying heights and textures coexist in a harmonious dance of abundance, just like one of the backyard trends utilized at my Villa Cortina: Masterfully Crafted by Donald Sharpe listing as pictured above.

    What sets the maximalist garden apart is its visual splendor and its promise of minimal maintenance. By embracing the principles of ecological balance and biodiversity, these gardens become self-sustaining ecosystems where plants support one another and thrive with minimal intervention. Good-bye painstaking upkeep and meticulous pruning. Instead, immerse yourself in the joy of watching your garden flourish and evolve organically over time. With its emphasis on natural rhythms and cycles, the maximalist garden becomes a source of constant delight and discovery, inviting you to slow down and savor the beauty of the natural world.

    A row of lounge chairs lined up on a terrace, facing an ocean view over treetops.

    4. Country Club Chic
    As we bid farewell to the era of sleek metal furnishings dominating outdoor design, a captivating revival of classic charm is underway in 2024’s backyard trends. This resurgence harkens back to the timeless allure of country club-inspired aesthetics, evoking the sophistication of Ralph Lauren's timeless designs intertwined with the laid-back elegance of Baron's Cove in Sag Harbor circa 1991. Dubbed "tenniscore" by TikTok aficionados, this trend embodies a fusion of vintage nostalgia and contemporary flair, celebrating a palette of crisp whites, creams, and playful greens.

    Meticulous details that evoke refined luxury are central to the tenniscore aesthetic. Think spa retreat, illustrated above by my listing called Montecito Magic: World Class Don Nultyt Contemporary Estate — a captivating outdoor retreat where relaxation and sophistication converge. Whether hosting intimate gatherings or enjoying quiet moments of solitude, the tenniscore aesthetic invites you to unwind in style amidst nature's splendor. By embracing classic design elements and harmonious color palettes, Montecito homeowners can cultivate a haven to escape the stresses of daily life and reconnect with nature.

    5. Spa Features and Cold-Plunge Tubs
    Transform your backyard retreat into a sanctuary of serenity with an array of spa-inspired amenities that promise to elevate your outdoor experience to new heights of relaxation and rejuvenation. Inspired by the time-honored wellness practices of Scandinavia, cold-plunge tubs are a refreshing departure from, and complement to traditional hot tubs. Immerse yourself in the stimulating power of hot and cold therapy.

    Embracing the principles of holistic wellness, these cold-plunge tubs offer a revitalizing contrast to the soothing warmth of saunas, creating a harmonious balance that reportedly stimulates circulation, boosts metabolism, and enhances overall well-being. But the spa experience doesn't end there. Embrace the art of relaxation with luxurious day beds that beckon you to unwind and soak up the sun's healing rays. At the same time, yoga platforms provide the perfect setting for a rejuvenating practice that nurtures both body and soul. Whether you're seeking solace in solitude or sharing moments of bliss with loved ones, these spa-inspired amenities create a haven of tranquility where you can escape the chaos of the outside world and reconnect with your innermost self.

    A backyard lawn with three exercise bikes and a set of monkey bars, with rear facade of a white modernist home in the background.
    Image from Fitness Design Group

    6. Outdoor Gyms
    Gone are the days of monotonous treadmill sessions and crowded weight rooms; instead, take advantage of our year-round Mediterranean weather with outdoor gyms that redefine the traditional concept of exercise. The possibilities are endless when transforming your outdoor space into a personal wellness sanctuary.

      Imagine stepping into your backyard gym amidst the lush greenery, where panoramic views and ocean breezes serve as the backdrop for your workout routine. Equipped with cutting-edge equipment and customizable settings, these outdoor gyms offer a one-of-a-kind fitness experience that inspires you to push your limits and achieve your goals. However, the beauty of outdoor gyms lies not just in their technological advancements but also in their ability to integrate seamlessly with the natural environment. In essence, outdoor gyms offer more than just a place to exercise—they represent a lifestyle choice that prioritizes health, wellness, and connection with the natural world. So, bid farewell to the confines of indoor workout spaces and embrace the freedom and flexibility of outdoor fitness as you transform your backyard into a haven of holistic well-being and vitality.

      Are you ready to embrace the Santa Barbara lifestyle with these 6 backyard trends at a new home in any upscale Santa Barbara community? Please call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at, and allow me to put my knowledge and contacts to work for you. I promise to find you the perfect spot to blend style, comfort, and functionality seamlessly, where you can elevate your outdoor oasis and make every day feel like a vacation in paradise.

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      Client Reviews

      “It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

      - J & A

      “Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

      - M.F.

      “Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

      - P.B.

      “We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

      - T.C.

      “Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

      - D.R.

      “I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

      - M.A.

      “Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

      - D.K.

      “Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

      - S.N. Decker Ph.D.

      “Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

      - Johan and Paula van den Berg

      “Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

      - John and Lacey Williams

      “After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

      - Michael & Nancy Lee

      “Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

      - Richard and Catherine Frinier

      “Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

      - Laurie Siegel

      “We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

      - Ken Saffir

      “Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

      - Michael & Susan Marquart

      “A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

      - Rob & Judi Kelch