Cristal's Blog

The Fine Art of Outdoor Dining in Santa Barbara

March 17, 2022

Back to Articles


Beautiful big backyard of a home for sale with an infinity pool at dusk

We live in the perfect setting to experience the fine art of outdoor dining in Santa Barbara without leaving home. As you can see by the image above of the European-Inspired Montecito Contemporary Estate I recently sold, your backyard can be (and should be) one of the most attractive spaces of your home. And when it comes time to sell, an outdoor kitchen is one of the things homebuyers are looking for today. If you’re thinking of remodeling the outside area of your home this summer, here are 10 tips to help you create the ultimate al fresco set up in your own backyard:

  1. The Grill
    To determine the correct size of grill for you and your family, consider how often you entertain and how many guests attend outside soirées at your home. For most people, a 30″-36″ grill is the perfect size, accommodating anywhere between 2 to 20 guests. And, if you’re like me and want the very best, the Rolls Royce of BBQ Grills is from Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. The company’s unique Hybrid Fire Grilling System features traditional gas, wood or coal grill choices, plus three heat settings.

  2. The Flooring
    Every outdoor dining area requires unique flooring. I recommend you choose a practical surface that’s durable, level, even, and solid enough to prevent your furniture from sinking into the ground. Ideally, your outdoor flooring will mimic your indoor flooring in style, color, and finish for that perfect indoor-outdoor blend that Santa Barbara has become synonymous with.
  3. The Shade
    Even though we get to enjoy year-round perfect Mediterranean weather, there are still times it gets rather hot here. Keeping everyone comfortably cool – or protected from the elements – is easy. A veranda, like in the picture above from my Montecito Estate listing provides substantial shelter from the elements. Or create a pergola, with climber plants such as ivy or a vine.

    Choose a dining set with a patio umbrella or add a freestanding or clip-on version to your existing dining ensemble. There are also cool area sunshade sails which are especially useful for exposed outdoor areas and terraces. Accessorize with pretty, festive garden lights and enjoy outdoor dining without overheating.
    Teak furniture on a side patio shaded by majestic trees
  4. The Furniture
    Santa Barbara offers its own certain style, with a very distinct look and feel. Keep our local vibe in mind by creating several outdoor spaces where your family and guests can relax before and after a meal. A good way to do that is with additional seating near your al fresco dining table like the owners of my European-Inspired Estate pictured above did.

    When it comes to color and style, make sure what you choose for the outside complements your interior. And Santa Barbara has some of the best garden and home stores including Botanik, a lifestyle boutique with beautiful outdoor goods, and Porch, where shelter and nature converge, to the ever-changing mix of antiques and accessories for your patio (and your home), that are not only sophisticated but also functional at William Laman Furniture Garden Antiques.

  5. The Storage
    Every outdoor dining area needs space for storage; way to keep the area tidy and clean, ready to fire up that grill. If your outdoor dining area is covered, you can keep all your utensils and table linens stored in a kitchen trolley, outdoor boxes, or even built space with cupboards under a counter near the grill. If not, keep them inside, ready to use at your next dinner party.

  6. The Atmosphere
    Music sets the mood, especially when it comes to dinner parties. That’s why investing in outdoor speakers or a sound system is a good idea. If you like the idea of having permanently installed speakers, but want to use Bluetooth as your music source, you can power your outdoor speakers with a receiver that has Bluetooth built in. Voila! The best of both worlds!

  7. The Countertop
    When it comes to your outdoor countertop, I recommend you stick to natural stone because that look is durable and will last the longest. Think bluestone, limestone or granite. Definitely, seal countertops using a silicon-based impregnating sealer.

  8. The Access Doors
    Since gas shut-off valves are typically placed below the grill, you need to build access doors. That way, you can easily hook the grill up to the gas service on your house. Of course, many top-of-the-line grill systems have that feature built in.
  9. The Accessories
    Side burners, sinks, refrigerators, storage doors, lights, a strategically placed GCFI (outdoor power outlet), and perhaps a rotisserie or even a pizza oven. Basically, just think of everything you need inside, and make sure the same items are found outside.
    The great room with the kitchen and living area in front of an outside patio with an ocean view in the background.
  10. The Location
    Build your outdoor kitchen close to your indoor culinary center, like the one pictured above from my Montecito Contemporary Estate. As you can see, having your outdoor space connected to your kitchen makes food prep a breeze.

If you’re considering moving to one of the Santa Barbara area’s beautiful communities or neighborhoods, check out the amazing properties on my website that feature the fine art of outdoor dining in Santa Barbara. I’m ready to serve you when it comes to your real estate needs. Give me a call at (805) 886-9378 or email me at I look forward to working with you and finding the best home where you can experience the fine art of outdoor dining in Santa Barbara.

More Resources:

Back to Articles

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