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How Can I Get That Perfect Santa Barbara Style in My Home?

Santa Barbara is more than just a California coastal destination — it’s a lifestyle. It is characterized by distinctive architecture, surf culture, and a lot of sunshine. If it’s time to refresh your home’s aesthetic and you want more of a coastal vibe, the Santa Barbara style is the one for you. Updating your environment has remarkable effects on one’s mental state and overall mood, so if you’re looking for something elegant yet relaxing, keep reading.

The Santa Barbara style presents architectural inspiration derived from Spanish and Mediterranean revival architecture. These styles include polished wood textures and deep red tones contrasting white walls.

Santa Barbara designs feature courtyards, arcades, red-tile floors and roofs, exposed beam ceilings, and white stucco walls. Furniture and fittings are made out of rustic materials, iron, or wood. Other elements include warm and inviting patios, balconies, large fireplaces, and rugged lantern fixtures.

Let us look into some of the easy-to-spot Santa Barbara style characteristics and what you need to achieve the look in your home.

Santa Barbara Design History

The history of the Santa Barbara-styled homes trails back to the days of Spanish rule in Mexico. In 1602, Sebastian Vizcaino named the area “Santa Barbara.”

After an earthquake struck in 1925, the city’s rebuilding reflected its Spanish-colonial past. Two architects — Mary McLaughlin Craig and James Osborne Craig — restored most of the city’s buildings throughout the 20s and 30s.

Most structures inspired the Old Mission building and the Courthouse in Santa Barbara. Because of the Old Mission building, the Santa Barbara style is also called “mission architecture.”

Characteristics of the Santa Barbara Style

Here are some of the details to look out for in Santa Barbara architecture:

Inviting Courtyards

The year-round Santa Barbara weather appeals to lovers of outdoor living. Homeowners enjoy pleasant stone courtyards surrounded by lush foliage.

Wrought Iron

Wrought iron is another hallmark of the Santa Barbara style, and you’ll find it on light fixtures, windows and doors, stairways, and handrails. In more dramatic home designs, you’ll discover spiral staircases made entirely from wrought iron.

Stone Fireplaces

Every classic Santa Barbara home has a grand fireplace, usually set in a neutral color palette similar to the surrounding plaster. You’ll also find fireplaces embellished with the unique Santa Barbara sandstone. This locally-sourced sandstone has a buff or muted gold color.

Red Tiled Roofs

If you love Spanish hacienda designs, red roofing tiles are a must-have. They can be slate or terracotta material, and you’ll find them atop local landmarks like El Presidio or privately owned homes in Santa Barbara.

An Exposed Wood Beam Ceiling

An exposed wood beam ceiling makes your living space feel welcoming and cozy — a must for a Santa Barbara style. Plus, it warms up the white walls. Whether decorative or structural, these dark-stained wooden beams bring a sense of sophistication, especially in a house with a high ceiling.

Arched Walkways, Doors, and Windows

Round corners add an air of casualness to your Santa Barbara-style home. You’ll find dramatic floor and ceiling arches framing the walkways and rounded tops on window casings and doors.

White Stucco Walls

Pure white stucco walls are the hallmark of Santa Barbara architecture. These white walls are a blank canvas for all the other dynamic elements of the Santa Barbara style.

Santa Barbara Paint Color Options

White is the color of choice when it comes down to paint preferences for your Santa Barbara-styled home. Look for shades of white with a hint of warmth. Think of cream and off-white tones.

Which white is most suitable, though? You’ll need to look at the color guidelines for the historical Spanish revival buildings. Alternatively, you can buy different shades of white and experiment with other areas of your home to see the outcome. Notice how the paint appears in the lighting conditions during different times of the day.

If you’re going for the Santa Barbara style to refresh your home, remember that most of your color choices fall within off-white, red-brown, and earthy tones.

Santa Barbara Styling Options

Looking to spruce up your home in true Santa Barbara style? Here’s what you need to consider to execute your designs flawlessly:

Sculptural furniture: Santa Barbara designs start with eye-catching, sculptural furniture with plush comfort and clean lines.

Organic textures: Texture and natural materials go hand in hand. Rugs and tactile rugs are critical in Santa Barbara styles and bring movement and life even to monochromatic themes.

Raw materials: When thinking of this style, you’ll come across materials like travertine, terracotta, marble, and wood. They add interest and depth to your space. Also, they bring a beautiful outdoor ambiance inside your home.

Earth tones: Silvers and blues have dominated recent interior design themes. Lately, however, rich earth tones, camel, terracotta, and soft stone shades are making a debut.

They include cool and warm hues that create a perfectly balanced backdrop devoid of bright color.

Difference Between Spanish and Santa Barbara Styles

Spanish architecture includes different motifs, techniques, and styles spanning an expansive and rich cultural history. Think of imposing Romanesque structures and flowing Art Nouveau cathedrals.

Spanish colonialists focused on building structures with different elements borrowed from their native land. The following generations created different Spanish-revival styles, mixing features with a traditional Spanish architecture feel.

Santa Barbara styles represent one of the revivals of true Spanish colonial architecture.


1. What style homes are in Santa Barbara?

The Santa Barbara style features interior and exterior designs derived from Mediterranean and Spanish-revival architecture. Polished wooden textures and deep red tones contrasting stark white walls characterize them.

2. Why is Santa Barbara so Spanish?

It began in 1602. An explorer, Sebastian Vizcaino survived a huge storm while sailing from Spanish-ruled Mexico. Afterward, the City of Santa Barbara was born.

3. What is Spanish architecture called?

It’s known as gothic architecture. Common elements include clusters of thin columns, vaulted ceilings, thin walls, gargoyles, stained glass windows, and pointed arches. This style thrived in the 13th century when it was better known as High Gothic.

4. How do I make my house look classic?

Add classic colors like black, navy, and dark green because they complement neutrals well. Also, invest in a few antique furniture pieces. Any reproductions or furniture over 100 years old is considered an antique.

Style Your Santa Barbara Home Today

Can’t resist the charming designs of a Santa Barbara home? Let our Peninsula Home Preferred Designers help you create a lovely space. We’ll assist you throughout the entire process so you can start living in a space that reflects your favorite style.