Cristal's Blog


September 20, 2022

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Something positive has emerged from spending much more time in our homes, both willingly and unwillingly. It's a desire for and manifestation of getting back to basics and the physical and emotional comfort available through our 5 senses. Many movements espousing the importance of “getting back to basics” have become hugely popular. Hygge is one. There’s also something called Nordic-Inspired Decor (With A Hygge Twist); Lagom, the Swedish trend loosely translated as “not too much and not too little, just right;” and cottagecore, the interest in creating a comfortable (mainly) fashion aesthetic. All of the above seem to be gaining momentum with a diverse population here in the U.S.

Expansive living room of a Hope Ranch home, with massive beamed cathedral ceiling and wall of glass looking out to the ocean

What all these cozy design trends emphasizing getting back to basics have in common is the belief that our emotions and senses are very tightly intertwined. What we hear, see, taste, smell, and touch can provide information on how to feel. Put simply, our emotional reactions can be guided by sensory input.

What is at the heart of these trends?

All these design and lifestyle trends focus on tranquility, domestic living, and creativity. It’s all about creating a relaxing space with intention: designing homes in a way that reminds every family member to slow down and savor each moment. And it’s an idea residents of Santa Barbara have always embraced.

Primary bedroom of a Hope Ranch home, with open-beam ceiling, fireplace and expansive ocean and garden views

How to Add the Cozy Aesthetic To Your Santa Barbara Home

The goal is to illuminate all 5 senses in your home. Here’s how:

  • Touch
    Touch is thought to be the first sense humans develop, consisting of several distinct sensations communicated to the brain through specialized neurons in the skin. There are volumes of data showing the sense of touch helps reduce depression, lower the stress hormone cortisol and increase the feel-good hormone oxytocin. Of course, everything must be soft and enveloping, like a cuddle-worthy blanket.

Touch can also influence how humans make decisions. Studies by psychologists at Harvard University and Yale show that texture can be associated with abstract concepts, and touching something with a texture can influence a person's decisions. So, go ahead and feel the softness of a warm blanket, the warmth of a cup of tea, and the delicate rush of the rain as it falls on your face. 

Luxury granite-lined bathroom with dual vanity in a dramatic Hope Ranch home

  • Sight
    The data on the sun and natural light holding powerful holistic benefits for health are vast. Light is responsible for turning on the brain through the retina and the pineal gland. Homeowners can enjoy all the benefits of light just by opening the draperies and getting out in the sun. And here in sunny Santa Barbara, you can do that just about every day of the year. Using color and uplifting images can also shift your chemistry. It's essential to re-teach yourself to truly see, not just look at things. Think-inspired wallpaper, natural textiles, unfinished woods, plants, wood beams, natural pottery, ambient lighting, fairy lights, comfy chairs, and pillows.

    When it comes to sight, consider the Santa Barbara indoor/outdoor lifestyle of bringing nature indoors while also creating comforts outdoors. Fresh flowers and houseplants are ideal. Roses, daylilies, petunias, dianthus, geraniums, or any fresh flower will do the trick. If you have a fireplace, that's another easy step toward a cozier home. Light a fire to illuminate the room and add warmth in more ways than one. You don't have to toss out your TV to create this getting back to basics vibe, though simply powering down all screens and losing yourself in the pages of a good book—or in conversation with a loved one—can get you in a cozy mindset.
  • Hear
    Studies show that meaningful sounds produce theta waves, the deep relaxing brain waves one attains when meditating. Music, audiobooks, soundscapes, and nature can significantly impact your mood. Focus on the deep tones of the voices of those you love inside your Santa Barbara home, the sweet song of the birds in the trees, and the sparkling rhythm of the ocean. And if silence is the sound that soothes you, dive in and enjoy the solitude.
  • Smell
    This is the most nostalgic of all our senses because fragrance directly leads to the limbic brain, where emotional memories are processed. A smell can transport you to a happy moment from your past or remind you of an essential person in your life. Homeowners are called to open the windows and enjoy the fresh air. You can also use aromatherapy scents like lavender, lemon, and peppermint; all proven to improve a person’s mood. Speaking about getting back to basics, and learning how to breathe deeply from your diaphragm, will also help shift your neurochemistry.

    Humans may be able to smell over 1 trillion scents thanks to the olfactory cleft, which is found on the roof of the nasal cavity, next to the "smelling" part of the brain. Humans have 400 smelling receptors. What makes a home feel cozier than a delicious smell with all those receptors? Certain scents can create calm and peace, diffusing the stresses of the day. Think of your favorite candle, fresh cookies baking in your oven, or fresh rosemary sprigs in vases adding fresh fragrances around your home.

    Magical glass-front wine room with bottles seeming to float on air, in a Hope Ranch home

  • Taste
    Research has shown that food can change one’s mood in an instant. That’s not so surprising when you consider that adults have 2,000 to 4,000 taste buds on the tongue, lining the back of the throat, the epiglottis, the nasal cavity, and the esophagus.

    You may not be aware that your sense of taste can call forth positive feelings. Studies show that even small moments of flavor sensations can lift your mood. So, nurse a delicious cup of coffee or eat a fresh strawberry slowly, letting your tastebuds ignite with every nibble. Whatever foods or beverages you enjoy, take delight and savor the experience.

The bottom line when it comes to getting back to basics and creating cozy at home: Don’t overthink it. The more natural, the better.

Life can feel incredibly complicated these days. Adding cozy vibes to your home can help soothe stress, inspire your creativity, and recall a simpler time and space, allowing you and your entire family to feel calmer and at peace. If you’re considering buying a new home in any of Santa Barbara's unique communities where you can invent your own comfortable space, I’m here to help. Just call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at Cristal@Montecito-Estate. I’ll be happy to offer my expertise and help you embrace the cozy design trends that are here to stay.

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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