Cristal's Blog


August 14, 2023

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In the realm of architecture, Don Nulty is known for his exceptional ability to blend the essence of natural surroundings with luxurious living spaces, He has left an indelible mark on the landscapes of Santa Barbara and Montecito.

A luxury Don Nulty designed home with majestic mountains in the background and a pool in the foreground

A Trailblazer in Design Philosophy

Don Nulty's journey as an architect began with a fervent desire to create spaces that seamlessly melded with the breathtaking backdrop of Santa Barbara and Montecito. Opening his firm, Don Nulty AIA, in 1983, he and his team put their energies to work specializing in high-end residential and commercial projects. The award-winning architect’s approach embodies the spirit of the region, drawing inspiration from coastal beauty, Mediterranean influences, and the captivating allure of the Californian lifestyle.

Nulty's design philosophy centers on the idea of harmonizing architectural elements with the environment; fostering a sense of connection between indoor and outdoor spaces that we hold sacred here. His designs often feature expansive windows, open layouts, and strategic placements that invite natural light and panoramic views to become an integral part of the living experience.

The backyard of a luxury home with a pool, lawn, and fireplace in the foreground

Transcending Trends with Timeless Elegance

One of Nulty's defining attributes is his ability to transcend fleeting architectural trends, opting instead to create designs that stand the test of time. His projects exude a sense of understated luxury: combining clean lines with warm materials to create spaces that feel both opulent and inviting. This unique balance is a testament to Nulty's keen understanding of his client’s desires and the essence of Santa Barbara and Montecito living.

Restoring Historical Properties and Landmarks

The distinguished architect is frequently summoned to breathe new life into properties that were originally envisioned by the early architectural icons of Santa Barbara and Montecito. With a deep understanding of the local architectural heritage and a keen sense of preserving the essence of the original design, Nulty works toward a harmonious blend of honoring tradition while infusing modern functionality.

His ability to capture the spirit of the original creators while seamlessly integrating contemporary features and conveniences has earned him a reputation as a guardian of architectural legacies. Meticulous attention to detail and commitment to maintaining the integrity of the original vision make him a sought-after collaborator for projects that require a delicate balance between preservation and innovation.

In essence, Don Nulty's role in renovating properties originally shaped by Santa Barbara and Montecito architectural giants is not just about architectural transformation but more about storytelling through design: paying homage to the past while allowing the structures to evolve and remain relevant for generations to come.

A luxury home's door opening to a spectacular ocean view

Legacy of Diverse Creations

Nulty's portfolio is a rich tapestry of diverse creations, each showcasing his mastery over various architectural styles and his innate ability to tailor designs to individual preferences. From sprawling estates that capture the essence of Mediterranean villas to modern retreats that embrace minimalist aesthetics, his work is a reflection of his adaptability and artistic versatility.

The living room of a luxury home with a fire in the fireplace

Sustainable Innovation

Beyond aesthetics, Nulty is also deeply committed to sustainability and eco-conscious design. He seamlessly integrates green features into his projects, ensuring that his designs not only enhance the lives of their occupants but also contribute positively to the environment. This dedication to sustainability underscores his forward-thinking approach and his concern for the well-being of both his clients and the planet.

A luxury bedroom with interesting wood beams in the ceiling and a door opening with an ocean view.

A Collaborative Approach

Nulty's success also lies in his collaborative approach to architecture. He believes in forging strong partnerships with clients, understanding their aspirations, and translating those visions into tangible spaces that exceed expectations. His ability to listen, interpret, and innovate has earned him the trust and admiration of his clients and peers alike.

A birds eye view of a classic contemporary Mediterranean home.

A Lasting Influence

His portfolio is a testament to his skill in imagining spaces, whether breathing new life into a historic mansion originally designed by a local architectural luminary or creating an estate that holds significance within our amazing architectural tapestry. In Santa Barbara and Montecito, Nulty's influence graces the landscapes, embodying the essence of luxury, beauty, and livability. His architectural achievements have not only enhanced the region's aesthetic but have also contributed to the way people experience their surroundings. Nulty's legacy as an architect is one that will undoubtedly continue to shape and elevate the architectural landscape of our coastal havens for generations to come.

If you're looking for a new home in any of Santa Barbara's high-end communities, please consider my current Don Nulty-designed stunner, the Exquisite and Classic Mediterranean Paradise pictured throughout this blog post. If that's not what you're looking for, check out all the listings on my comprehensive website. See something you like? Then give me a call at (805) 886-9378 or email me at Cristal@Montecito-Estate. I'll be delighted to organize a private tour exclusively for you.

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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