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“California Chic” is Alive and Well in Montecito

January 15, 2019

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House for sale featuring California Chic

If you already live in Montecito or just about any of the communities in or around Santa Barbara, there’s a good chance you’re already embracing “California Chic.”  It comes easy for those of us who live here. Others may be envious of our breezy way of living. We naturally have an effortless style that inspires decorators and architects.

Follow these tips from the Golden State's expert designers:

Indoor/Outdoor Lifestyle

"The classic tried and true concept of California living centers around the notion of bringing the outdoors in; of
Living room in home for sale with high ceilings adding California chic
creating interiors that emphasize, respect and engage the most alluring aspects of the California climate and landscape," says Greg Roth, head designer at Home Front Build, an architecture, design and building firm based in Los Angeles. He adds, "Think sunlit vistas, bright blue skies, neutral sand tones, lush green gardens, and fresh air."

Roth goes on to say the color green is a must in California. Choose any green, from bright chartreuse or rich, deep olive, green. Use green as an accent color, or go bold and have your favorite green hue be your focal point. The bottom line:  green keeps us connected to Mother Earth in both subtle and obvious ways. Roth says pairing green with luscious tonal neutrals or richly hued woods creates a warmly inviting and comforting setting.

Connection Context

a California Chic home for sale in Montecito

To really create the indoor/outdoor lifestyle known as California Chic, you also have to consider the connection between your house and its surroundings for context. For those of us who live in Montecito, that context is both the ocean and our surrounding mountains. 

 "Colors from nature are predominant within a California-inspired interior. Blues, greens, tans and beiges, etcetera,” explains San Francisco-based designer, Michael Friedes.  "The look and feel is on the clean, contemporary side. Even when an interior is more traditional, I design more of a ‘New Traditional’ aesthetic. Again, because of our weather and sense of the outdoors, it is a disconnect to have a lot of big, dark or heavy-looking rooms or pieces for a California interior in general.”

Friedes goes on to discuss California landscaping. He says it’s all about being sustainable and using native plantings. Nearly all of my listings have walls of windows to bring the lush landscape inside the home. Water features are always a welcome addition in the garden. So is an outdoor kitchen. Actually, I’d say an outdoor kitchen for those of us lucky enough to call Montecito home, is a must here.

Read: Lotusland: One of the World’s 10 Best Gardens

Take Glam Out to Play

Living here offers homeowners an organic, effortless feel. That feel is the heart of California Chic. The look is enhanced with casual layers that are both modern and elevated. Keep the words effortless and inviting in mind when decorating. Think about creating an inviting feel where you and your visitors just want to hang out on the comfy furniture all day long.

"Windows are essential elements in a California-chic closet since we have views and sun,” says Lisa Adams of L.A. Closet Design in Los Angeles. “For a recent project, we designed a closet with a laidback feel that included a branchy and organic light fixture. Even the design was less traditional and formal: more contemporary, with simple base and ceiling trims rather than ornate crown molding. For another project, we did whitewashed cabinets with vertical grooves: simple in the design and yet very James Perse meets Malibu chic.”   

Read: Top Residential Architects in Montecito and Santa Barbara History

Go Natural to Create Indoor/Outdoor Flow

What you want to do is create a natural flow from indoors to outdoors. An example of this would be using the same pendants over the indoor and outdoor dining tables, and fabrics that echo each other. 

"We use furniture with clean lines and evocative personalities and always include one or two statement pieces in each room, whether kilims, artwork or features that use natural elements like leather or rattan, to bring a handmade quality to the space,” explains Designer Kimba Hills, owner of Rumba furniture in Santa Monica. “Whatever we use has to be resilient. Our clients are not interested in high-maintenance spaces and want all the components to weather the elements gracefully.”

Read: Outdoor Trends Perfect for the Santa Barbara Lifestyle

The Somerset Estate

I have so many examples of California Chic listed on my comprehensive website. One of my favorites is the Somerset Estate, pictured in this blog. This amazing property embraces every lifestyle, taste, and family or personal situation. Built in 1918 in Montecito’s elite “Golden Quadrangle,” it is now a fine example of superior 21st-century workmanship and conveniences while honoring early 20th-century charm and class.

The soaring vaulted ceiling offers an open and inviting space with plenty of windows and French doors and amazing mountain views. The grounds of Somerset Estate are special; not just due to provenance, but also considering their maturity, the continuity of their care, and the symphony of complementarity at play between the gardens’ elements. From the lengthy hedgerow at the entrance to the estate to the abundant display of flora and precisely sculpted hedges within the property’s borders, landscape magic is present and thriving here.

The sparkling pool and spa, intimate seating areas and walking paths, delightful gazebo, and even the built-in cooking area with its top-of-the-line grill are all highlighted and defined by the perfectly placed and impeccably maintained flora surrounding them.

Now you know how to embrace California Chic. Ready to put these ideas to use in a new home in Montecito, Hope Ranch or any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities? If yes, then please call at 805.886.9378 or email me at I’ll happily add your listing to my portfolio of fine homes in the area and find your new dream home for your family.


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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