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What Makes Montecito Spanish Colonial Revival Architecture Such a Sought-After Design?

August 13, 2019

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Searching for a Spanish Colonial Revival estate in Montecito? I don’t blame you. These homes are unique and well-constructed, with lots of character and charm; born as a result of the Panama-California Exposition. Spanish Revival became a U.S. style movement from 1915 to 1931.

READ: Santa Barbara: Oasis of Arts and Culture

This hybrid style is based on the architecture found during the early Spanish colonization of North and South Americas. It started in California and Florida due to the fact that both states offer the ideal climate for Mediterranean-inspired homes. While new features have been added to classic ones, there are 9 exterior elements that define this style:

  • Curves and arches
    Think graceful archways to the front door and throughout the home.
  • White stucco exterior and walls
    Fresh white paint covers roughly textured stucco: a hand-applied mix of cement, water and sand or lime. The result is an aged-looking Old World surface.
  • Painted tile
    Another unique feature of Spanish Revival architecture is painted tile. You can find a beautiful selection on Etsy.
  • Terracotta roof tiles
    Red clay rooftops give the homes of this genre a warm, earthy, rustic look. Often the roof lines are multi-level, adding interest and asymmetry. 
  • Tower-like chimneys
    No detail is too small. While many chimneys are functional, all are given special treatment with moldings and little windows.
  • Balconies
    Perfectly designed balconies created so that you can step out from your room to enjoy fresh air and views.
  • Ornamental ironwork.
    I can’t get enough of the style’s finely crafted wrought ironwork that graces stair railings, gates, windows, and lanterns. 
  • Courtyards and patios
    The mild climate of the Mediterranean encourages outdoor living, so the Spanish created lots of spaces to enjoy outside. The patios often had fireplaces which allowed you to linger outside late into the night.
  • Arcades
    A series of arches supported by columns is called an arcade. This is an old architectural feature which originated in Rome. In the Mediterranean, the arcades sheltered walkways in town squares.

If you are home-hunting in Montecito and drawn to Spanish Colonial Revival estates, then I have a couple of listings for you to consider.

First up, a Don Nulty-Designed Spanish Masterpiece that rests on approximately two Montecito acres in the affluent community’s coveted “Golden Quadrangle.” The four-bedroom, six-bathroom beauty is perched in the foothills, just minutes from the charming Upper Village, schools, services, and pristine beaches. This estate’s bones are born of exceptional materials. You’ll swoon over the custom cabinetry and stonework which includes native sandstone unearthed and cut right there on the property. This lovely stone is found throughout the home, including in its four wood-burning fireplaces. The roof is made from one hundred-fifty-year-old tile imported from Colombia. There are Saltillo and Moroccan tiles throughout, along with antique wood beams and light fixtures.

Amazing Views
This is a very private estate surrounded by mature trees. Beyond the trees, the new owners will enjoy stunning ocean, island and mountain vistas. They will also appreciate the expanse of custom wood and bronze multi-pane windows and French doors found throughout that allow a near-seamless flow of interior and exterior pleasures from every room.

Culinary Center
The home’s culinary center is second to none, with Shaker-style cabinetry, Verde oasis marble countertops, and a versatile center island capped with beautifully-finished teak. Those accouterments are complemented by a hand-crafted, wide-plank wood floor and a barrel-vaulted beamed ceiling. 

Top of the Line Security
If privacy and safety are important, this home has it via its top-of-the-line security system, dual electric gates, grounds lighting, a full-house-power generator, and state-of-the-art firefighting, fire prevention, and fire-safe storage. A Crestron smart home system is used to control most of the systems, including the gates, HVAC, audio and visual, security and the pool.

Or how about living the luxury life in A Montecito Mediterranean Reimagined? Perched on a knoll adjacent to Montecito's grandest historic estates and the majestic Lotusland, this property is a modern masterpiece.

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

This single-story 3 bedroom, 2½ bathroom home combines the romance and grace of Montecito’s traditional Spanish style with the easy elegance of the finest contemporary materials and fixtures. Situated behind massive Spanish-Colonial gates and framed by majestic trees,  the residence hosts a bevy of comforts and convivence along with sweeping views from the Channel Islands to Montecito Peak. Situated on lush landscaping for the best of relaxed, resort living.

Newly Renovated
The home’s high-ceilinged, open-plan living areas have recently undergone a renovation that features whole-house water purification; filtered fresh air circulation; upgraded electric panel and back-up generator; energy-efficient water heater; Moroccan and Italian wall tiles; Miele kitchen appliances with gray-washed contemporary cabinetry, quartz backsplashes and sealed concrete countertops; marble-topped island and separate butler’s pantry; utility room with wine refrigerator; new Dornbracht, Kohler and Toto bath fixtures; and contemporary bath cabinetry and lighting. The master dressing room has been transformed with Italian fittings and its own washer and dryer. Large storage closets were added to the spacious 2-car garage.

Outdoor Luxury
Drought-tolerant landscaping is complemented by lemon, lime, apple and avocado trees; all on an easily monitored drip system. A shaded pergola with sea views extends the living room out to an expansive limestone terrace, which includes a low-chlorine spa-plunge pool.

Our Spanish Colonial Revival architecture is another reason to live in Montecito and Santa Barbara. You will find it everywhere around town and if you’re lucky enough, you can even live in one of these beauties. If you’re considering buying or selling a home here, call me at +1 (805) 886-9378 or email me at I look forward to putting my knowledge, contacts, and energy towards finding your perfect home sweet home.

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“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.”

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“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.”

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“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