What’s on the desk today?

A quick shot of what is on the desk today.

We are preparing for a client meeting for our Sierra Madre Residence which is an addition and remodel to a home in the foothills of Santa Barbara. We have a study model, drawings and a couple of renderings to review some tweaks to the roof form and interior layout. We think they are going to love the changes! We use study model to communicate the overall form of the house as well as how the house interacts with the topography. The drawings are best for communicating the layout and dimensions of the house while the renderings really express the materiality and quality of light and shadow.



Patxi’s Pizza Santa Barbara Restaurant Design

Just a few weeks away from opening! Patxi’s Pizza at 515 State Street is coming together nicely and we are excited to see it full of happy customers very soon. We worked as a consultant to assist in the restaurant’s design and permitting with the team  at DMHA and Henry Lenny Design Studio. The construction is being taken care of by Frank Schipper Construction Co.

The barriers came down and the transformation can now be seen. Stop by, take a look and let us know what you think! As a Santa Barbara Architect it is gratifying to see a project move quickly thru the design process, be built and open for business.

Interior view

Interior view

Sierra Madre Progress – Santa Barbara Architects

We are making solid design progress in our Sierra Madre residence which is an addition and remodel set in the foothills of Santa Barbara. We have made a few tweaks to improve the floor plan for the master bedroom and bath which also makes for a better experience in the great room. As you can see we are fully in the computer now, adding detail to the model like materials, furnishing and lighting fixtures.  We go back and forth between the plan views and 3d views like these to look for opportunities to improve the design. The computer model lets us get into the finer layers of design earlier in the process, you couldn’t do this with a 2 dimensional CAD program.

Interior View

Interior View

These are raw views from the model so you are seeing what we see while we work. In this interior view we are looking out from the kitchen at how the materials are working together, how much the new roof floats over the wall on the right, how do the pendant lighting fixtures look at these levels… plenty of decisions to make

santa barbara architect, rendering

View of Addition from Garden

In this view we are experimenting with how the lowest level appears and how the changes to the master bedroom addition look with the roof flying over it.

We put this much energy into all of our projects to ensure we are producing unique and site specific design.

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The Process, Modern Beach Shack Addition and Remodel

Doing the work to bring this home to life…

A view behind the scenes of the documentation process of our  Santa Barbara Mesa Modern Beach Shack project.  The project is an addition of a master bedroom and bath to the second floor, a new living room and entry and a dining room and kitchen remodel, This is where we carefully craft the details that make our projects unique and special. We filter thru the thousands of choices and options on behalf of the client to specify the materials, finishes and fixtures for the project. The doors, windows, sinks, faucets, lighting etc. are all determined, noted and detailed within the drawings. This allows the contractor to accurately price the work and gives the client confidence that the budget will stay as quoted and the project stays on schedule.

santa barbara beach house process

Santa Barbara Mesa Beach Shack Interiors

We are moving along with the design of our Mesa Beach Shack here in Santa Barbara and wanted to share some progress. These images show are how we work thru the interior design process. We use the computer model as a tool for exploration and communication with the client. In a single meeting the client was able to understand the possibilities and materiality we had in our minds, how we had opened up the space the south to flood the addition with light. We made a few small moves to provide some built-in storage and modulation of the walls. We are thinking of using flooring and tile from a company called Porcelanosa which we really like. They produce beautiful ceramic and stone finishes with incredible patterns and colors that fit our modern aesthetic. You can see some images from the Porcelanosa website below. The client was very excited to see the progress and understands how the spaces could look. In our minds this is what Architecture is and what Architects do. The design of a building does not stop at the exterior, the interiors must be just as carefully considered. Stay tuned for more updates in the future.

New Living Room View

New Living Room View


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New project! Santa Barbara Style addition and remodel

Garden View

Garden View

We have a new project in the early design phase. Located in the San Roque neighborhood of Santa Barbara this project consists of an addition and remodel to an original house providing a master suite and new kitchen and dining room. We have created a outdoor space that connects directly to the dining area promoting easy indoor and outdoor living. The addition frames an outdoor living space with fireplace and built-in seating, learn more about these outdoor design principles here. We dipped into our knowledge base to produce a design that gave the client everything they needed but done smartly to avoid unwanted costs as outlined  in our previous post here.


Floor Plan

Rinconada Street View

Rinconada Street View


Outdoor Design Principles of a Santa Barbara Architect

We are fortunate to live in Santa Barbara, its weather allows for nearly year round outdoor living. As Architects we like to take advantage of this and design homes with a great connection with the outdoor either with big areas of glass or with walls that can be folded or slid away. We prefer multi-sliders that slide away into a wall pocket, opening the interior and connecting you to an outdoor room used for dining, lounging or entertaining.

fleetwood multislider

fleetwood multislider image by fleetwood

This looks best when the tracks are recessed into the ceiling and floor creating a seamless material transition between interior and exterior. See how the stone flooring in the image flows from inside to outside? This leads the eye outside and “borrows” space, making the interior feel more expansive and connected with the outside world. Outside you might set your dining arrangement to create an easy flow for your family or guests to enjoy your outdoor space but within easy reach of the kitchen. Companies like Nana Wall and Fleetwood  are provide high quality solutions for this type of construction.

Now that you have a good indoor outdoor flow its important to provide some scale for your outdoor space. We like to consider these spaces to be “rooms” for living, lounging or dining and we design with specific uses and furniture arrangements in mind. If the area is too big your furnishings will appear to be lost in space, too little area and the space will feel like an afterthought. When you get it just right people are drawn to these spaces by their intimate quality.  It’s important to define the edges of  outdoor rooms with planted areas, changes in materials or with the design of the home.

Santa Barbara Architecture Sierra Madre Interior View

Sierra Madre Interior Rendering

Our Sierra Madre project is all about connecting the interior with the exterior. The project uses continuous flooring and ceiling materials, multi-sliders, the addition of a new deck area with shade structures and fire element to provide a great place to relax or entertain guests while looking out at the amazing view of the Santa Barbara Channel Islands.

santa barbara modern remodel

View from back yard

Give us a call and let us show you what we can do for you and your home!

Modern Beach Shack Wins Final Design Board Approval!

View From Street

View From Street

Our Santa Barbara Mesa Beach House received final approval from the City of Santa Barbara Single Family Design Review Board based on the quality of design, details and materials. The Board is made up of 7 qualified members living in Santa Barbara; Architects, Landscape Architects and members of the public. It is a distinguished group with a difficult job.

It wasn’t without some controversy however as a vocal member of the neighborhood presented her negative feelings about the second story of the proposed project. We absolutely understand her concerns for privacy and maintaining views, we are big proponents of these issues ourselves however there must be a balance with property rights. These properties are zoned for 2 story houses up to 25 feet tall! This project is only 17 feet tall! We did reach out to her and all the adjacent neighbors early in the design process however she declined to be involved.

A 2nd floor addition can be a touchy issue but most issues can be hammered out by involving the neighbors early in the process. We like to meet with those who will be most affected, present the design and try to address privacy and view issues. I doubt anyone wants to look thru their neighbors windows and see what they are having for breakfast… it just makes for better neighbors and better neighborhoods if we can work together before going in front of a design board. Several members of the Santa Barbara Single Family Design Review Board applauded our process of working with the neighbors and the client’s willingness to change the project to ease the impact to the neighborhood as well as improve the property in a modest but attractive way. It makes it easier for the Board to approve a project if they see that the neighborhood has been involved and issues have been addressed.

Next stop is the Building Department!

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A Checklist for Buying Property in Santa Barbara

We get a lot of calls from people who are looking at a piece of property for sale in the Santa Barbara area and are wondering if they could add on, develop or change the home to suit their needs. There are many possible issues that can affect the final decision of whether to buy or not.  Aside from trusting your gut instinct It’s helpful to think like an Architect when looking at property. What follows is a short checklist of items we normally advise a buyer to consider and research:

Title Report:

This should describe the property boundaries, any easements, CC&R’s and any liens placed on the property. Easements can be controlled by utility companies or neighboring property owners, it’s important to know where these are to avoid problems in the future.

Septic System or public sewer service?

If the property is on a septic system it may limit the size of an addition. The system is typically sized to service the number of existing plumbing fixtures and any additional fixtures added will require upsizing the septic system. Occasionally finding the location of the septic system is a problem, we’ve had a few projects where there was a vague notion of where it was, they are not well documented. Often all that is available is a crude “treasure map” style sketch showing X marks the spot 50 feet from that tree and 20 feet from this rock.

Electrical service:

Is the electrical panel old or undersized?

Older homes may have a 100 amp panel and may still have old wiring. Modern homes demand much more power to support all the TV’s, lighting etc. and a 200 amp panel is almost mandatory.

Are the utility lines serving the property overhead? Depending on the overall cost of the project the City of Santa Barbara may require these lines to be placed underground at your cost.

Height Limits:

Most areas allow two stories however some property is located in areas with height limits due the zoning or the topography. CC&R’s can also place limits on number of stories. It is important to know that zoning does not guarantee that property may be developed to the maximum, neighborhood compatibility can trump zoning.

Floor Area Ratio (FAR):

The City of Santa Barbara places a limit on the interior area that can be built on a property based on the size of the lot. The County also places FAR limits on some areas like Montecito. It is possible to gain approval to build beyond these limits but the process can be lengthy.

Open Yard Requirement:

The City of Santa Barbara requires residences to have a significant open yard area (1,250 s.f. in some cases) with minimum dimensions and must be within the rear yard. This can impact the buildable area even on a large lot.

Topography and natural features:

Does the property have steep slopes? Construction is generally limited on steep hillsides. Large trees may require permits to be removed and streams have additional setbacks. All of which can further limit the buildable area.

How we can help

We know that in todays real estate market sometimes there isn’t much time to contemplate all of these factors. So give us a call and we can talk about the possibilities for your site or walk the site with you. We are happy to help assess the development potential of a property and provide a quick zoning summary.

Like what we do? Let us show you what we can do for you, get in touch!


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Santa Barbara Vaquero Residence Addition and Remodel Gets Final Design Board Approval!

Santa Barbara Modern Contemporary Architecture Modern Addition

Our Vaquero Residence project was in front of the Santa Barbara County Board of Architectural Review today and received final approval based on the quality of the design and materials.

Next stop is the building department!

While our friends at the building department are looking over the drawings we will be working hard to round out the interior design and all the other detail required to communicate the design to the builder.

Interested in learning more about the process of architecture and what we do? click here to read our thoughts.

Like what we do? Let us show you what we can do for you, get in touch!


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