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Outdoor Living Spaces for Luxury Homes: Builders Follow the Santa Barbara Example

March 1, 2021

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The patio of a Carpinteria home for sale that looks over lots of land s an example of Outdoor Living Spaces for Luxury Homes

Outdoor living spaces for luxury homes across the country are becoming bigger, more elaborate and more central to the particular home, just like the backyards here in sunny Santa Barbara. And that trend is only just beginning. In fact, the popularity of outdoor living spaces is expected to continue to grow in 2021, not only in light of COVID-19, but also as many of us pursue more sustainable lifestyles and seek to achieve greater health, both mentally and physically, from home.

We who are lucky enough to call Santa Barbara home have always embraced the indoor/outdoor lifestyle. Why wouldn’t we? Our perfect year-round Mediterranean weather allows nearly 300 sunny days per year compared to the national average of just over 200. Santa Barbara also averages zero inches of snow per year, whereas the U.S. average is 26 inches.

READ: 20 Things to Love About Santa Barbara

Today, homeowners across the country are looking for ways to extend their outdoor spaces. The current growth in outdoor living spaces for luxury homes is all part of a cultural shift away from formal living spaces.

In the last few years, you’ve probably heard phrases related to sustainability and design floating around. At its core, sustainable design seeks to reduce negative impacts on the environment and build things to last a lifetime. And no space is a more important place to reduce your carbon footprint than your own beloved home. That’s why more and more people are starting to audit their personal impact on the environment and how they can make more eco-conscious decisions at home.

Even the size of outdoor spaces is growing these days. The average size of luxury home decks grew across all regions of the country in recent years according to a 1,300-builder survey by Home Innovation Research Labs, an independent subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders. Chilly nights on the deck are offset by fire pits, heated floors and other outdoor amenities, such as swimming pools, massage areas, putting greens, fire features and more: all things Santa Barbara luxury homes have been enjoying for many years now.

READ: 7 Tips for Creating Your Own Safe Haven

Here are the top 5 trends in creating a fantastic and functional outdoor space retreat:

Trend #1: Wider, Larger Decks
The latest trend in decking is the increase in square footage. Gone are the days when homeowners were okay with a 200 square-foot deck where they can put patio furniture and a grill. Now, deck designs usually rival the indoor square footage of the home. In fact, there are some that include multiple levels to provide different functions. There are decks that have walls to provide privacy, pergolas, built-in pieces for additional seating and storage, and planters to define and beautify the deck spaces. The return on investment for a mid-size deck is close to 90%, according to Remodeling magazine.

READ: Santa Barbara: Oasis of Arts and Culture

Trend # 2: Fully Functional Outdoor Kitchens
Among those planning outdoor living spaces, 60% plan to upgrade existing areas for more functionality and better aesthetics. Outdoor kitchens, not surprisingly, were the top project, with 76% of those surveyed planning them. Next were patios and decks at 54%. Screened porches and three-season rooms rounded out the top three for 31% of respondents.

Trend #3: Adding Water Features
Water features are another huge trend in backyards these days. A fountain can add soothing sounds of trickling water, and a hot tub or a Jacuzzi can complete the relaxing atmosphere of your deck and add to the illusion of having the perfect getaway destination right at your home.

Trend #4: Privacy
Privacy is an increasing priority among today’s homeowners. With the pandemic driving residents outside to exercise, meditate, rest or recuperate, the issue is also important in one’s yard. As Santa Barbara homeowners know, we all need places of solitude to retreat to, places where we are free of the gaze of others in order to relax and feel at ease. Privacy helps people manage these boundaries and is also helpful to reduce the social friction we can encounter in life.

READ: The Backyard Shed: Your New Home Office?

Trend #5: Granny Flats
Backyard cottages are trending, especially in Santa Barbara back in 2017 when Senate Bill 1069 passed making additions of so-called “granny flats” easier and less expensive to build. Also known as accessory or accessory dwelling units (ADUs), these outdoor living spaces are showing up across the country wherever local codes allow them to be added to single family home lots. Some are built on site; others are manufactured and trucked in. They are being used to house older relatives back from an assisted living facility, adult children needing a temporary home, tenants for additional income, or just to increase functional space to a suddenly-cramped residence. Their many functions include study areas, spare bedroom suites, work from home offices, gyms or even meditation areas.

A huge rock with the words Live Oaks Ranch to welcome people to the Carpinteria property that is currently on the market

If you’re considering moving to a new luxury home with an abundance of outdoor living spaces in Montecito, Hope Ranch or any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities, I have plenty of amazing properties to show you. Take my Live Oaks Ranch listing pictured above and at the top of this blog post. This jewel, set in one of Carpinteria's most sought-after areas, rests on more than 21 enchanting acres at the end of Lambert Road. If you want land, then this is the perfect place for you to set up either a restful retreat or a working ranch. There’s enough breathtaking outdoor space to do both! Just consider the possibilities.

You’ll find many more amazing properties for sale on my comprehensive website. Just call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at and I’ll be more than happy to arrange a private tour for you. In fact, nothing would make me happier then showing you the remarkable properties available in sunny Santa Barbara, the place where the trend to more outdoor spaces in luxury homes all began.

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“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

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- 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