Imagine a big, Spanish Revival-style house hidden behind one of those long, winding Montecito gates. Surrounding the house is a pool in the central courtyard; two large, south and east-facing lawns; and a tennis court, as well as a manicured rose garden and complete landscaping to perfectly frame a view of Inspiration Point. Inside the house, a mix of contemporary and traditionally-styled furniture daringly brings together what would otherwise appear a combination of two incongruous styles. Add in taxidermy hunting trophies and large (and might I add, original) works of art by several famed legends (Andy Warhol, anyone?) and you have yourself the beautiful Los Sueños Montecito estate.
On August 10, Santa Barbara was invited to peruse this Montecito residence for Casa del Herrero‘s Architects of Change event. A fundraiser in support of our town’s only National Historical Landmark, the event commemorated George Washington Smith, the legendary Santa Barbara architect who designed countless homes in our city between 1917–1930. The pairing of Casa del Herrero and Los Sueños is especially symbolic because each were designed near the start and endpoints of Smith’s career, respectively. In addition, many of Smith’s designs were heavily influenced by the work of Lutah Maria Riggs, Smith’s chief draftswoman and Santa Barbara’s first female architect.
It’s easy to get lost in the beauty of this property while sipping on a Chardonnay or choice cocktail and schmoozing with Santa Barbara’s elite. Even Smith himself may have been envious of those vegetable spring rolls, focaccia dough and vegetable pizza slices, and bacon-wrapped figs drizzled with sweet maple sauce. Between the live piano entertainment, open bar, gourmet hors d’oeuvres and elegantly dressed guests, Architects of Change was indeed a beautiful Santa Barbara event that rightfully honored the legacy that Smith’s work has left on our city.
Smith’s work has been called many things, and after exploring Los Sueños at the Architects of Change event and visiting Casa del Herrero during one of their twice-weekly tours that are open to the public, I quickly realized how versatile Smith’s architecture really is. While Smith’s designs are of the Spanish Revival style, they are varied to suit each homeowner’s personality. Los Sueños and Casa del Herrero both share the same white stucco walls, rose tile roofs, large facades and geometric room-arrangement qualities, but while one residence is quirky and contemporary, the other resembles (and feels) like an artifact exhibit at a history museum (which might also be attributed to the fact that Los Sueños is a contemporary home, while Casa del Herrero is an intact, historical building). Indeed, Casa del Herrero is filled with ancient Moorish furniture and objects that were brought to Santa Barbara from Spain in the 1920s. The spaces are more compact and less light enters the rooms. The gardens are more vast and varied. And while connoisseurs claim that Casa del Herrero, with its awe-inspiring and intriguing style, is the most Smith-esque house ever built, Los Sueños is just as much of a George Washington Smith masterpiece.
For more information about Casa del Herrero or to make a reservation for a guided tour, please click here or call 805/565-5653. Casa del Herrero is located at 1387 E. Valley Rd.