CALM Design House Showcases View

The first thing that strikes you is the view. Not only can you see the forest through the trees, but the ocean glimmers invitingly through the oaks as well. Talk about a perfect canvas. Architect William Harrison took full advantage of the prime property in creating this spectacular Montecito showhouse to benefit CALM.

Harrison described the house as mission revival with a heavy arts and crafts influence, but there’s really only one word for the property at 610 Cima Vista Lane — gorgeous.

For 20 years, CALM has raised money locally for child abuse prevention and assistance services through design showcases. “This is a departure for us, our homes in the past have had different designers in each room,” said CALM Development Director Rebecca J. Adler.

While the long-established form of showhouse fundraisers have been very popular and will continue in 2005, this was an offer the nonprofit couldn’t refuse. Traditional Home Magazine, which does showhouses across the country, had paired with Harrison Design Associates to produce the home in Montecito as an editorial feature when they approached CALM about being the charity beneficiary. “It was really exciting to hear about … the scale and grandeur of this project for us. And also to call the other charities who Traditional Home had participated with, they all said, ‘this is the best thing that’s every happened to us,'” said Adler.

Built around a nine-acre protected oak tree conservancy, the house is impressive for its serene beauty and its feeling of being at one with the land, which is even more impressive considering it was built and furnished to perfection in just one year.

“All of the players here are equally as important,” said Robert Young, west coast editor of Traditional Home. “… You have Harrison (Design Associates) who’s the architect and they also are the developer, and Giffin and Crane is the contractor, CALM is the charity, then Barry Dixon is the (interior) designer and Katie O’Reilly Rogers is the landscape architect. … We gave over 100 percent and 200 percent and they’ve delivered. Everybody’s just been extraordinary and everybody’s enjoyed working on it.”

“There was good clear concise direction on this job at all times,” said Geoff Crane president and COO of the builder, Giffin and Crane. “In a project like this, everything has to fall into place at once. The landscaping had to start at a time it wouldn’t normally be starting. As soon as we had an area that we could confine and barricade off (they started) excavation and grading and planting. It was a little unconventional,” said Crane, who credited his Project Manager Lindsey Adams with keeping construction running smoothly.

With the tight schedule, one of the biggest challenges was scheduling. Visitors to the showcase will enter the house through a charming green and white motor court, surrounded by white camellias, white azalea, field grown boxwood and in the center of it all a white cyclamen tree. “We had to crane in this big tree before they finished the arch,” said landscape architect Rogers. “The tree wasn’t ready to be brought up for three weeks and they had to get the arch up because of the stonemason’s schedule.”

“The stone on the side of the house is literally from the land,” said Young. “These are all hand carved from these big boulders that came from Santa Barbara sandstone.” Once you enter the house, the feeling of indoor/outdoor fusion continues, thanks in part to the well-designed windows that maximize the views, and also to Dixon’s extremely textural, almost primal choices. “I think Barry took … this concept of earth, wind and fire and kind of just being inspired by the elements … that are here in Santa Barbara … everything that makes it such a magical place,” said Young.

The master bath’s oversized shower features very unusual glass tile by Walker Zanger, tumbled to look like sea glass. You could get waterlogged trying to choose between that and the dazzling ocean view spa tub. The walls are done in Venetian plaster burnished to a gorgeous glossiness that has to be seen to be believed. “People that come here are seeing the cutting edge products for the home and then they see it used in really creative ways,” said Young.

A favorite room of the architect’s is the outdoor sitting/dining relaxing space overlooking the pool. “You can sit there and watch the sunset over the harbor. Like a little pier or point outside of the house, then, walk outside of that little narrow gangplank and there’s a wonderful view back up into the mountains,” said Harrison.

Also contributing to the serene, peaceful feeling is the yoga/massage room adjacent to a ground floor wine cellar, dining area and screening/game room. “The yoga/massage room is kind of a Zen thing in California,” said Harrison, who has offices in both Atlanta and Santa Barbara. “But we’re seeing it all over the country. … People wanting to have the ability to sort of meditate and relax.”

Under designer Dixon’s touch, clever ideas, juxtapositions of old and new, eastern and western cultures and design inspiration abound. “A showhouse is like a fashion show,” said Young. And this is certainly one show you won’t want to miss.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on February 19, 2004.

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