Cristal's Blog


May 9, 2024

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Decorating your Santa Barbara mid-century home is an invitation to embrace a rich architectural legacy that emerged in the post-World War II era. Characterized by clean lines, expansive windows, and seamless integration with nature, mid-century modern homes in Santa Barbara County exude a unique charm that resonates with our stunning natural environment. As you set out to furnish your space, envision a sanctuary that pays homage to this iconic style.

A section of a mid-century home, with floor-to-ceiling windows, a large oak tree in the fireground and the ocean in the background.

Mid-century Modern, Inside and Out

Santa Barbara boasts numerous breathtaking mid-century modern homes. One of my personal favorites, showcased above, exemplifies the essence of mid-century architecture; a listing I had the pleasure of selling.

Born after World War II, this exceptionally popular architectural style is characterized by flat planes, large windows, and open space. Most of Santa Barbara County’s mid-century modern homes for sale were built between 1945 and the 1980s, with designs centered on simplicity and, most importantly for Santa Barbara, integration with nature.

Since its beginnings, the look has become widely recognizable. The aesthetic is renowned for its space-age lighting, streamlined walnut, teak furniture, bright color palettes, geometric tile, and avant-garde artwork, with bold color and pattern maximalism.

Here’s my comprehensive guide to transforming your Santa Barbara mid-century home into a true masterpiece.

A mid century furnished living room with couch, chair, coffee table and more.
Photo by Gabriela Pons:

Living Room

The living room serves as the heart of any home, and in a mid-century modern space, it becomes a canvas for nostalgia and innovation. Take cues from the resurgence of interest in 1950s living rooms by artfully mixing materials and embracing quirky architectural details that add character. Whether it's introducing retro motifs like atomic age patterns or geometric designs or curating a cohesive color palette, allow your creativity to reign supreme. Illuminate the space with statement mid-century lighting or harness the natural light streaming in to complete the ambiance, creating a welcoming retreat that exudes warmth and style.

Mid-century chair with striped pillow next to a mid-century style cabinet with a houseplant on top.
Image by on Freepik


In the sanctuary of your bedroom, simplicity meets comfort in the realm of mid-century modern design. Prioritize functionality while infusing the space with accents that offer a subtle nod to retro aesthetics. Whether it's through the addition of vintage-inspired rugs or playful throw pillows, let these elements weave together to create a harmonious environment that invites relaxation and rejuvenation. Embrace the warmth of natural materials and the serenity of muted tones, crafting a haven that reflects your personal style and enhances your daily retreat.


The kitchen serves as a hub of activity and creativity, where form meets function in perfect harmony. Infuse your culinary space with the essence of mid-century modern design by prioritizing clean lines, natural light, and bursts of vibrant color. Integrate retro-inspired elements such as circular globe shapes and iconic furniture pieces, bridging the gap between past and present with effortless grace. Embrace modern conveniences, creating a space that inspires culinary adventures and memorable gatherings with loved ones.

mid-century furnished dining room with palm tree picture behind teak chairs and dining table, with a ficus plant in the corner and a long credenza
Image by Image by on Freepik

Dining Room

Elevate your dining experience with furniture that embodies the timeless elegance of mid-century modern design. Incorporate natural and reclaimed wooden elements for a welcoming atmosphere. Curate a dining room that showcases the best of mid-century style, infusing the space with a sense of sophistication and charm. Let strong lines and atomic-inspired accents take center stage, inviting guests to linger and savor moments of connection and conversation in a setting that transcends time.


The bathroom presents an opportunity to pay homage to mid-century modernism in its purest form. Preserve nods to the era's original color schemes while infusing the space with modern touches and minimalist aesthetics. Embrace clean lines and utilitarian elements, opting for a gray and white color palette that exudes sophistication and tranquility. From sleek fixtures to minimalist decor, create a sanctuary that invites moments of repose and reflection, elevating your daily routines with a touch of timeless elegance.

Where to Shop for Mid-Century Modern Décor

As you can see, many factors contribute to the enduring popularity of the mid-century modern style. It can easily be incorporated into the everyday life of Santa Barbara homeowners, but buying great pieces isn’t always easy.

Consignment Stores

We can also take advantage of our excellent consignment stores here in Santa Barbara. These stores sell secondhand items on behalf of the original owner, who receives a percentage of the selling price.

Jones Robin Appraisal SVC Antq
This place has served Santa Barbara since 1969 and is known for handling quality artifacts and antiques. As a member of the International Society of Appraisers, they also offer an appraisal service and estate liquidations. Visit after they’ve received items from a local estate, and you’ll be amazed at what you can find.

The Blue Door
If you even mention consignment/vintage/antique shopping in Santa Barbara, you’re sure to get recommendations to visit The Blue Door. Located in the Funk Zone and standing tall with three floors of inventory, the store combines new and vintage home items that will pique any shopper’s interest. Plus, with new items arriving every day, you’re sure to find something unique to bring home with you!

Summerland Antique Collective
If you’re looking for some serious luxury items for your home and outdoor space, look no further than Summerland Antique Collective. Specializing in fine designer pieces and unique collectibles, the shop prides itself on offering a wide range of styles. Whether you’re looking to redecorate or just browse, this spot is definitely worth a stop if you’re in Summerland.

The Art of Consignment
This store specializes in hand-selected, top-quality, and tasteful furniture, home goods, and décor. It also features second-hand items from well-known brands and manufacturers. The store regularly accepts donations, consignments, and on-spot sales, so its inventory always expands.

Thrift Stores

Many mid-century modern obsessives score amazing finds on Craigslist, at local yard sales, or at antique shops. They’re also checking out local thrift stores. And as luck has it, Santa Barbara has many thrift stores to hunt for that coveted piece.

Today, thrift shopping is gaining in popularity. And for good reason. Thrift stores often operate under charitable organizations, offering essential services alongside retail operations. Shopping at these stores sustains their mission, such as Santa Barbara's Unity Shoppe, which assists local residents in need while offering skill-building programs for future employment opportunities.

Thrifting also contributes to sustainability by diverting items from landfills, embodying the ethos of reuse and reducing waste while offering endless possibilities and moments of curiosity as you uncover unique items with mysterious pasts. These items transport enthusiasts to eras past, especially for mid-century modern enthusiasts seeking to expand their collections.

If you are looking for a mid-century home for all your mid-century modern furniture, there’s just one place to go: My exclusive Cristal’s Listings, or my website’s Property Search, a compendium of all available homes and estates in the Santa Barbara MLS. Rest assured that I’ll search the area to find you the home of your dreams, no matter what architectural style calls to you. Just give me a call at (805) 886-9378 or email me at I can also sell your existing property at the same time.

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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