Welcome to Jennabunkport

Writer Jenna McCarthy shows off her She Shack, Jennabunkport. Photo by Jenna McCarthy.

Writer Jenna McCarthy shows off her She Shack, Jennabunkport. Photo by Jenna McCarthy.

Writer Jenna McCarthy’s she shack is 140 square feet of home office heaven.

By Leslie Dinaberg

Living—and working—in a 100-year-old farmhouse certainly has its charms, but as her children grew bigger and houseguests came and went, writer Jenna McCarthy (Everything’s Relative, The Parent Trip, Lola Knows a Lot) longed for, as Virginia Woolf once wrote,”a room of one’s own.”

“I longed for a space that was all mine, somewhere I could sneak away to and write in peace, somewhere my kids wouldn’t be barging in every four minutes asking me if I know where their sparkly pink headband is or wanting me to referee such life-or-death arguments as ‘whose turn is it to hold the remote control,'” says McCarthy.

Author Jenna McCarthy is right at home in Jennabunkport, her writer's cottage. Courtesy photo.

Author Jenna McCarthy is right at home in Jennabunkport, her writer’s cottage. Courtesy photo.

When her husband, Joe Coito, suggested she needed a writer’s cabin, McCarthy was online looking at sheds in a heartbeat. Both spouses know their way around a tool belt—they once flipped a house on the TV Show Property Ladderso when McCarthy couldn’t find the perfect ready-made shed, they bought plans online and built it themselves. “We were able to do things like buy a reclaimed door and modify the plans to make it fit. We copied the siding and trim of our house so it would look as if my little shed had been on the property all along.”

Her husband built her a desk, and her daughters helped with painting, sanding and hammering. “My mother’s day present this year was a coat of primer,” she laughs.

The inside is warm, cozy, bright and filled with things that bring joy and inspiration, like the six-foot giant octopus they made from a canvas curtain.

Author Jenna McCarthy's daughter Sasha, with Syd the giant octopus that graces Jennabunkport. Courtesy photo.

Author Jenna McCarthy’s daughter Sasha, with Syd the giant octopus that graces Jennabunkport. Courtesy photo.

“We christened her Syd, and she’s one of my favorite pieces in Jennabunkport, the name we chose for my shed, because, yes, we name everything,” says McCarthy.

“I’ve always considered myself fortunate that I get to do what I love to do all day with my familyís enthusiastic support. Now I get to do it in my own little paradise, one that is far more than an office; it’s a 140-square-foot reminder of how lucky and loved I am. And it’s all mine.”

Another view of the interior of Jenna McCarthy's office, Jennabunkport. Courtesy photo.

Another view of the interior of Jenna McCarthy’s office, Jennabunkport. Courtesy photo.

This inspirational message graces the wall of author Jenna McCarthy's she shack, Jennabunkport. Courtesy photo.

This inspirational message graces the wall of author Jenna McCarthy’s she shack, Jennabunkport. Courtesy photo.

This story was originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Restoring Ranchito Bendito: An Edwards and Plunkett Classic

Ranchito Bendito artwork by Frank Serrano

Ranchito Bendito artwork by Frank Serrano

ranchito-bendito-montecito-magazine-article_fall-winter2010

This story was originally published in Montecito Magazine in Winter 2010.

Spanish Colonial Style: Santa Barbara and The Architecture of James Osborne Craig and Mary McLaughlin Craig

Spanish Colonial Style, photo by Matt Walla, courtesy Santa Barbara Historical Museum

Spanish Colonial Style, photo by Matt Walla, courtesy Santa Barbara Historical Museum

This retrospective exhibition, the first in 90 years, celebrates the publication of a monograph on the work of two seminal Santa Barbara architects, who happen to be husband and wife.

James Osborne Craig is widely credited with establishing the Spanish Colonial style in Santa Barbara. He left two buildings of such potency—even precocity, given his age—completed posthumously, that one suspects he would have given George Washington Smith ample competition if not for his premature death at the age of 33. One was Casa Santa Cruz, the house for Irene and Bernhard Hoffmann. The other was El Paseo, which set the standard for Santa Barbara’s architectural rebirth in the twenties and continues to be a reference today. His wife Mary McLaughlin Craig, indelibly linked with the houses of Plaza Rubio, followed in his footsteps and established her own identity as an architectural designer for 36 years.Spanish Colonial Style book

Spanish Colonial Style: Santa Barbara and the Architecture of James Osborne Craig and Mary McLaughlin Craig, written by the Craigs’ granddaughter Pamela Skewes-Cox and architectural historian Robert Sweeney, was recently published by Rizzoli, in conjunction with the Museum. The exquisite book includes a stunning collection of contemporary photos by Matt Walla.

Experience the exhibition premiere with a cocktail reception, comments by noted architect and author Marc Appleton, and book signing by the authors, Pamela Skewes-Cox and architectural historian Robert Sweeney.

Opening Reception
October 22, 5:30 p.m.
Experience the exhibition premiere with a cocktail reception, comments by noted architect and author Marc Appleton, and book signing by the authors.  Reservation required.

Lecture
October 23, 11 a.m.
Pamela Skewes-Cox, author Spanish Colonial Style: Santa Barbara and the Architecture of James Osborne Craig and Mary McLaughlin Craig, will give a presentation about the book and the lives of her grandparents.   Reservation required.

First Thursday
November 5, 5-8 p.m.
Join us to view the exhibition after-hours during Downtown Santa Barbara’s art walk.  Wine, music and family-friendly activities.

All events take place at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, 136 E. De la Guerra St., 805/966-1601.

—Leslie Dinaberg
Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on October 16, 2015.

My Santa Barbara | ArchitecTours: Every Building Tells a Story

Julia Morgan—the architect who designed Hearst Castle—said: “Architecture is a visual art, and the buildings speak for themselves.” That may be true, but the intriguing personal stories behind the nine buildings highlighted in the 2015 Santa Barbara AIA Annual ArchitecTours also have some tantalizing tales to tell. This year’s tour, themed “buildings with a story,” takes place on Saturday, October 3 from 10 a.m.–4 p.m., culminating with a festive party. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit aiasb.com or call 805/966-4198.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in the Fall 2015 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

CL20: Modern suburban home addition prototype by Shubin + Donaldson Architects, courtesy AIASB.

CL20: Modern suburban home addition prototype by Shubin + Donaldson Architects, courtesy AIASB.

Contemporary art-filled residence by Bildsten Architecture and Planning, photo courtesy AIASB.

Contemporary art-filled residence by Bildsten Architecture and Planning, photo courtesy AIASB.

Craftsman bungalow by Blackbird Architects, photo courtesy SBAIA.

Craftsman bungalow by Blackbird Architects, photo courtesy SBAIA.

The Goodland Hotel by DMHA Architecture + Interior Design, photo courtesy SBAIA.

The Goodland Hotel by DMHA Architecture + Interior Design, photo courtesy SBAIA.

Gracious downtown living by Thompson Naylor Architects, photo courtesy AIASB.

Gracious downtown living by Thompson Naylor Architects, photo courtesy AIASB.

Luminous Santa Barbara County offices by DMHA Architecture + Interior Design, photo courtesy AIASB.

Luminous Santa Barbara County offices by DMHA Architecture + Interior Design, photo courtesy AIASB.

Mid-century modern library by PMSM Architects, photo courtesy AIASB.

Mid-century modern library by PMSM Architects, photo courtesy AIASB.

Modern cottage for multiple generations by AB Design Studio, photo courtesy AIASB.

Modern cottage for multiple generations by AB Design Studio, photo courtesy AIASB.

Tract house retread by Ensberg Jacobs Design, photo courtesy of AIASB.

Tract house retread by Ensberg Jacobs Design, photo courtesy of AIASB.

Editor’s Pick: Casa del Herrero Celebrates 90 Years

Casa del Herrero, courtesy photo.

Casa del Herrero, courtesy photo.

George Fox Steedman and his wife Carrie moved into their new home on June 29, 1925. Now we have a chance to celebrate “father of Santa Barbara style” George Washington Smith’s architectural legacy with a special garden party. Casa del Herrero, 1387 E. Valley Rd., Montecito. June 28, 4–7 p.m. 805/565-5653, casadelherrero.com.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Summer 2015.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Pearl Chase Society Historic Homes Tour—Editor’s Pick for Spring

Pearl Chase Tour, photo by Steve Crozier

Culley House, photo by Steve Crozier

Several George Washington Smith-designed homes in Montecito take center stage in the annual Pearl Chase Society Historic Homes Tour. Between 1918 and his death in 1930, George Washington Smith designed more than 60 residential and non-residential structures, mostly in Santa Barbara, including a home originally designed for renowned violinist and composer Henry Eichheim, which is included on the tour and features rarely seen frescoes created by the famed Mexican muralist Alfredo Ramos Martinez.

Also on view is the Culley house (pictured), which is a bit of a departure from Smith’s earlier Andalusian-influenced designs, as it’s a rectangular structure with a cantilevered porch more akin to Monterey-style, which shows his influence becoming more Spanish Colonial than old-world Spanish. In addition, the bus-led tour stops at several other homes, where visitors can see Smith’s distinctive aesthetic first hand. Advance reservations are required. May 18, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. PearlChaseSociety.org, 805/961-3938.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in the Spring 2014 issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.

AB Design Studio Selected as New Architect for Children’s Museum of Santa Barbara

Aerial view of Santa Barbara Children's Museum, courtesy AB Design Studio

Aerial view of Santa Barbara Children’s Museum, courtesy AB Design Studio

The long-wished-for Children’s Museum of Santa Barbara takes another step forward with the selection of architects from AB Design Studio Inc. to complete the building, which was initially designed by the late Barry Berkus.

Affectionately dubbed “the sand castle,” the whimsical design features approximately 15,000 square feet of interactive exhibits including a rooftop sky garden with exhibits and viewing areas. The museum will also house a state-of-the-art theater for video art and a small classroom, as well as a museum store.

Expected to be Santa Barbara’s first LEED-certified museum, the innovative building will highlight its own features such as the use of repurposed blue jeans for insulation and several “kid-powered” exhibits.

 

Rooftop view of Santa Barbara Children's Museum, courtesy AB Design Studio

Rooftop view of Santa Barbara Children’s Museum, courtesy AB Design Studio

The building will be located at 125 State St. between Hotel Indigo and the Train Depot. According to a recent statement, the project is currently in the permitting stage and will start construction in the summer of 2014 with a plan to be open in 2016.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on February 3, 2014.

MCA Santa Barbara Invites Architects To Do Anything But Architecture In New Exhibition

 

Atelier Manferdini, Arlecchino, December 2010- May 2012, CNC cut wood structure, CNC cut and folded aluminum panels with powder coating finish, and printed vinyl, 12 x16 x 4 ft., Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, Courtesy the Artist

Atelier Manferdini, Arlecchino, December 2010- May 2012, CNC cut wood structure, CNC cut and folded aluminum panels with powder coating finish, and printed vinyl, 12 x16 x 4 ft., Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, Courtesy the Artist

Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara (MCASB) welcomes six prominent Los Angeles-based architects as they present original designs that are anything but architecture. In “Almost Anything Goes: Architecture and Inclusivity,”  Amorphis LA, Atelier Manferdini, Ball Nogues Studio, Design Bitches, DO/SU Studio Architecture and Variate Labs present their work,  embracing cross-fertilization, collaboration and adaptation to create new methodologies for research and implementation in the fields of architecture and beyond.

The exhibition is on view from January 5 –April 13.
The architects are:

Ramiro Diaz Granados, Amorphis LA
Elena Manferdini, Atelier Manferdini
Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues,Ball Nogues Studio
Catherine Johnson and Rebecca Rudolph, Design Bitches
Doris Sung,DO/SU Studio Architecture
Miles Kemp, Variate Labs

The opening reception for this exhibit is January 4 from 6–8 p.m. MCASB is located at 653 Paseo Nuevo.

—Leslie Dinaberg

 

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on December 31, 2013.

Keeping it Green: Cozy Charm Meets Environmental Friendliness

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

Combining cozy quaintness with modern conveniences was the goal when Linda and Jerry Gutterman decided to remodel their 1930’s cottage. As much as they loved the homey feel of their tiny, 1,086 square foot abode, they wanted more room, and used their remodel as an opportunity to create a greener, healthier and more energy efficient living space.

It was important to Linda that they maintain the cottage’s cozy feeling. “I wanted a real cottage feel when you came up the driveway, “ she says.

Located on a cul de sac off of Schoolhouse Road, the cottage has a long and storied history that Linda and Jerry wanted to make sure they preserved. The property, which runs alongside a creek, originally belonged to the family of Burr and Beverly Barker, Linda’s former husband and his sister.

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

Their grandfather, William Barker, purchased the five-acre property in 1895 and it became known as Barker Ranch. William had eight children, six sons and two daughters, who lived in the original farmhouse down the street.

“As they grew up he decided to give his children property on the farm so they could build their homes with their spouses when they married,” says Linda. So the property was divided up and Burr’s father Fred built the original cottage with his brothers in 1932.

When Fred and his wife Jeanne passed away in the late 1970s, Burr (then married to Linda) and his sister Beverly inherited the cottage. They bought Beverly’s share and held onto the property.  In 1994 the property was deeded to Linda and she moved into the family cottage.

Four generations of Barker children have played among the oak trees that frame the backyard of the cottage, which butts against the grounds of the 11-acre Casa del Herrero estate. Designed by the area’s premiere architect, George Washington Smith, Casa del Herrero is noted as one of the finest examples of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and has been in the hands of its original owners, the Steedman family, since it was first constructed more than 75 years ago.

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

“What we wanted to achieve with this house remodel is to make it feel like it’s always been here,” Linda says, citing her love and appreciation for the older home styles found in Montecito and the Upper East Side of Santa Barbara.

Both of the Gutterman’s like traditional style homes that feel like they have a history. They have a special affection for the cottage, where Linda took residence in 1994. She married Jerry in 1999. “I married her for her cottage,” he jokes.

“I loved the cottage and I enjoyed living in it very much. It was very cozy because I had added all my touches. But the house was single wall construction, and it was cold. The windows were single glass paned…the nice leaded glass windowpanes that came from the old Parma Estate, and neat windows, classic leaded glass windows … but it was just drafty,” says Linda.

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

“They weren’t very energy efficient,” adds Jerry.

“We were burning gas like mad just keeping the house warm,” says Linda.

In addition, the house wasn’t well built. “It wasn’t a home that you could save and remodel. It wasn’t built well enough structurally, because it was built by the kids, by the boys,” she says. Plus, it is located right next to a creek and they had problems with mold and mildew.

“It was almost like it was becoming uninhabitable for health reasons, and so we decided we would build a whole new home. (There was) almost like an underwater lake that was developing under the foundation of the house when you dig down underneath the property,” says Linda.

Jerry explains that the Jell-O-like substance under the house was subsurface water, which had to be excavated in order to rebuild the structure. “We did not want to build over that because we would continue to sustain the same problems,” he says.

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

Photo courtesy Allen Associates

Working with Allen Associates, a local building contractor that specializes in green construction, the Gutterman’s decided to install a French drain system that collects all of the water runoff from the back of property and the roof and then drains it into the streambed for reuse.

While the Gutterman’s decided to remodel in January 2006, they didn’t actually begin demolition until April of that year. They worked with several architects to come up with a design that would preserve the look and feel of the old cottage while using new materials and technological innovations to go from a 1,086 square foot home to 2,900 square feet. Linda’s father, architect John Roberts, did the initial layout and floor plan.

But because we changed our minds so much, “her father fired us,” laughs Jerry. “Her dad does drafting the old-fashioned way with a pencil and eraser, and with the way Linda and I change our minds, until we figure it out, it was a lot of erasing for him.”

“We became known as Mr. and Mrs. Change,” says Linda. The next architect hired was Melvin Hemmer, who unfortunately passed away before the project was completed. Sophie Calvin took over at that point to complete the plans and get the design through all of the necessary approvals.

While the new home is more than twice the size of the original, from the curb it still looks like a small cottage. “We tried to keep the feel of this home from the front when you drive up to be similar to other homes on the street, to keep that same cottage sense and feeling,” says Jerry.

“When you drive up, it doesn’t look nearly as big as it is,” says Linda. “I kind of like the element of surprise. That is really what I enjoy is coming in to a home and seeing the charming little touches.”

Among the charming touches she preserved are the fireplace mantel from the original cottage, which now graces the master bedroom, and the door of the original 1900s farmhouse from Barker Ranch, which is now the entry to a new garden cottage in the backyard.

“That was important to us to try to keep the traditional integrity as best we could,” says Jerry.

There’s always a concern in older neighborhoods when people hear that there’s a new home going up, says Linda. While she understands the need to update older homes, “what I want is for this street to stay charming as it always has been. ”

Some of the biggest updates were in the area of energy efficiency. Improving insulation is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to improve the energy efficiency of a house, says Allen Associates Green Resources Manager Karen Feeney. In the Gutterman’s case, they used recycled content non-formaldehyde fiberglass insulation in all of the walls.  They also used energy-efficient windows and ceiling fans to improve circulation. An “on-demand” hot water heating system also improved efficiency, as did new Energy Star appliances.

The Gutterman’s selected innovative structural materials for their remodel as well. They used faux stonework for the outside fireplace, which is less expensive and easier to work with because it’s much lighter than real stone. Their backyard deck is a product called EverGrain, made from plastic and recycled wood fibers. This type of decking is extremely low maintenance and not prone to damage from termites or weather.

Linda says she marvels at the many high substitute materials available now instead of wood.

Fire is also a big concern in Montecito, and the Gutterman’s took this into consideration when choosing the EverGrain decking, which is Class A fire-rated, meaning it has a high resistance to fire and a lower probability of combusting during a fire. They also chose to use fiber cement shingle siding manufactured by CertainTeed and a fiber cement roof product called Firefree to address both their environmental and fire safety concerns.

“They were able to achieve both goals, the green goal as well as putting in materials in their home that were not going to be susceptible to fire, so there’s a win win in both areas,” says Feeney.

Their Isokern fireplaces in the living room, the kitchen, and outside on the deck were all designed for energy efficiency. “A lot of times you’ve got your fireplace and three-fourths of the heat is going up. The way that these are designed is that they are much more fuel-efficient and they radiate the heat back out into the rooms so they are more effective,” says Feeney.

In order to improve the air quality and therefore their health, the Gutterman’s—who had custom dining room and office cabinets built by John Willis and purchased their kitchen and bathroom cabinets from Jack’s Kitchens— used formaldehyde-free shelving and cabinet materials, as well as non-toxic sealants, adhesives and oils and zero/no VOC (no emission) paints and coatings throughout the house.

They also installed PEX plumbing, which is made from cross-linked polyethylene. In addition to the cost saving advantage over traditional copper plumbing, this material is more flexible so it doesn’t require welding, it’s more durable under temperature extremes, and there are no chemical byproducts to get into the water supply. “It’s definitely a cost effective green alternative,” says Feeney.

The Gutterman’s were thrilled to be able to move back into their cozy cottage last April, exactly one year and one week after demolition day. They had a hard time picking a favorite room. Jerry says he had a special affection for his office, the bedroom and the living room, while Linda says she loved both the kitchen and the master bathroom, in part because of their beautiful, park-like views, and of course the memories.

“There’s so much memory here of all our family get-togethers under these trees and of all our picnics and all that, so it’s really a very nostalgic thing for us,” says Linda, whose daughters Bryn and Leah now visit often with their own babies.

The structure may be new, but the rumble of the creek, the swish of the trees, and the history of the house still remain.

Originally published in Montecito Magazine, Spring 2008.

 

 

Neighborhood at odds

Planning Commission hears concerns on converting St. Francis into Cottage employee housing

Almost 150 people packed the hearing room at City Hall on Thursday, no small feat the week before Christmas. In the hot seat was Cottage Hospital’s plan to develop condominiums on the old St. Francis Medical Center property.

“No one at Cottage Hospital ever imagined that we would have to build houses to fulfill our mission, but we have to do just that,” said Cottage Health Systems‘ CEO Ron Werft, in presenting the project to the Planning Commission. It costs roughly $40,000-$50,000 to recruit and train an employee, said Cottage spokesperson Janet O’Neill, so part of the hospital’s motivation is to retain employees.

Describing the proposal to build 116 units on the site — 70 percent of which will be affordable or “workforce housing” for employees — Marshall Rose, chairman of the nonprofit’s housing task force, anticipated objections from neighbors. “This is not about ruining a neighborhood; it is about replacing a once vital healthcare organization with an even greater need,” he said.

The crowd was split on the project’s merits. Expressing empathy for the difficulty Cottage has recruiting and retaining top talent in this expensive housing market and applauding its efforts to provide housing were top officials from UCSB, Santa Barbara City College and Westmont. One neighbor against the project commented afterward, “They really brought in the suits. But our opinions are just as important.”

Criticism mostly centered on neighborhood compatibility concerns. While Cottage and city officials held two neighborhood meetings, the general consensus among those who live nearby was that their concerns weren’t being accommodated. “The comments have neither given the neighbors much hope or much confidence,” was Steven Doty’s written response to the plan.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of fear, I think it’s a matter of trust. I don’t think it’s been earned,” said Joan Marshall, another neighbor.

“We’re all for workforce housing,” said Dee Duncan, who works closely with Bungalow Haven neighborhood association. “But protecting and preserving is equally important to the people who live here.”

Cheri Rae, also from the Bungalow Haven group, expressed dismay after the hearing. “It sounds like the employees are pitted against the neighbors. That’s not true. We are workforce people. We just don’t want to lose the quality of life that has attracted us to Santa Barbara.”

Several in the audience and on the commission said they thought the concurrent Cottage Hospital remodel project should be planned in parallel and suggested that some of the existing St. Francis Medical Center facility (set to be demolished) could be put to medical use, with workforce housing put in the neighborhood near Cottage. Other concerns were how long the property would remain affordable, the number of market rate units, a lack of green space on the property and that there was too much parking, since Cottage said it plans to run a shuttle to its facilities in Santa Barbara in Goleta.

The meeting was an initial concept review, so the commission took no formal action on the project other than to provide feedback.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon