Montecito Has Drawn Royalty and Celebrities, and These Homes Are Proof of Its Allure

Living room in mid-century-modern post-and-beam 1958 Montecito home of interior designer Daniel Cuevas from Montecito Style: Paradise on California’s Gold Coast Phaidon Monacelli Press book

Recently released by Phaidon imprint Monacelli, Montecito Style: Paradise on California’s Gold Coast impresses with 250 images by noted celebrity photographer FIROOZ ZAHEDI, all of them redolent of the sunshine, gentle sea breezes and aromas of lavender and orange blossom that we hope will soon return to the region following the recent winter storms. 

A coastal California neighbor of Santa Barbara, Montecito has a reputation as a hub for the rich and famous. It’s now notably the home of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who have made much news of late. But this book looks at the aristocracy of good taste.

Living room by Winick Architects Mark D. Sikes and Richard Shapiro in Montecito Style: Paradise on California’s Gold Coast Phaidon Monacelli Press book
Designers Richard Shapiro and Mark D. Sikes each had a hand in the interiors of this 14,000-square-foot new-build oceanfront house by Winick Architects. The home features prominently in Montecito Style: Paradise on California’s Gold Coast, a new book from Phaidon imprint Monacelli. Here, the furniture plan smartly divides a large great room into separate dining and living areas, and the relatively low-slung furniture allows for long water views. Top: In his own modern post-and-beam 1958 Montecito home, interior designer Daniel Cuevas placed a white Eero Saarinen Tulip table topped by decorative boxes and a string of African amber beads, as well as an antique bronze drum and linen-upholstered rope-woven daybed. All photos by Firooz Zahedi

The forward, by eminent Los Angeles and Santa Barbara architect Marc Appleton, emphasizes that Montecito homes are not exclusively in the area’s signature Spanish Revival style. Tastes and aspirations vary, he points out, writing that it takes “many styles to reflect these different dreams.” The main text, by design writer Lorie Dewhirst Porter, amply demonstrates this aesthetic diversity. 

Portrait of photographer and Montecito resident Firooz Zahedi who shot the photos for Montecito Style: Paradise on California’s Gold Coast Phaidon Monacelli Press book
Photographer and Montecito resident Firooz Zahedi shot the book’s lush and lovingly lit interiors photographs.

For those who love the style that defines the area, there are plenty of red-tiled Spanish roofs, as in the incredible beachfront residence by Winick Architects, whose eclectic interior scheme by designer/dealer Richard Shapiro mixes Italian antiques with high-modern furniture.

But there are also low-slung modernist homes, a chic brutalist number in concrete and a slate-roofed Norman-style abode with peaked dormers. Famed decorator John Saladino shows off his furniture line, such as his Villa chairs and Cromwell settee bench, amid elaborate European antiques and antiquities in a restrained 1960s home.

Living room in the home of interior designer John Saladino from Montecito Style: Paradise on California’s Gold Coast Phaidon Monacelli Press book
According to the book’s author, Lorie Dewhirst Porter, the great room in the Montecito home of designer John Saladino “captures the hallmark of Saladino’s design aesthetic, a carefully calibrated mixture of antique pieces with furniture of his own design.” The center of the space features an ottoman covered with a 19th-century Persian silk tablecloth, and Saladino’s Cromwell settee bench sits in front of the window. The watercolor architectural drawings on either side of the window are by Sir John Soane.

Zahedi is married to one of the country’s top art collectors — Beth Rudin DeWoody, of the West Palm Beach private museum Bunker Artspace — so it’s a given that the couple’s blue-chip-filled rooms would be on display. The home they share, a 1964 U-shape design by local architect Jack Lionel Warner that is nestled among live oaks, provides a subdued white-and-gray showplace for work by such masters as Harry Bertoia, John McCracken, Gisela Colón and Ed Ruscha.

Living room in mid-century-modern art-filled home of Firooz Zahedi and Beth Rudin DeWoody form Montecito Style: Paradise on California’s Gold Coast Phaidon Monacelli Press book
Zahedi’s own home, which he shares with his wife, contemporary-art collector Beth Rudin DeWoody, is a largely glass-walled mid-century modern marvel designed by Jack Lionel Warner. In the living room, a pair of slipper chairs and a couch, all by Chahan Minassian, embrace a Lucite coffee table topped with bronze orbs by Lucio Fontana and a silvered broken tree by RoxY Paine.

Los Angeles–based collectors Jane and Marc Nathanson give DeWoody and Zahedi a run for their money with their Mediterranean-style home by Wallace Neff (a California design icon, Neff’s houses have been owned by boldface names like Madonna, Diane Keaton). At the Nathansons’, works by Doug Aitken, Jeff Koons and Barbara Kruger pop against stark white walls.

Outdoor living area in front of large alfresco fireplace at the home of architect William Hefner from Montecito Style: Paradise on California’s Gold Coast Phaidon Monacelli Press book
Architect William Hefner‘s home offers ample space for indoor-outdoor living. This alfresco seating area enjoys the warmth of its own fireplace — made of Santa Barbara sandstone found on the property — while the glass window walls blur the distinction between inside and out.

Also on display is the home that architect William Hefner designed for his own family, crafting small, separate farmhouse-style buildings in sandstone and connecting them in a compound around a pool and courtyard. A restored 1950s bronze-and-walnut pool table creates a point of interest in a very neutral palette that was chosen to avoid upstaging the views and landscape. 

That scheme nicely epitomizes a point Porter makes in her text: Californian modern design is all about letting the outside in. And as Zahedi’s images show us time and again, in Montecito, regardless of a home’s style or era, the setting is the best accessory.

Cover of Montecito Style: Paradise on California’s Gold Coast Phaidon Monacelli Press book
Montecito Style‘s cover features the sort of Spanish Revival-style architecture for which the area is known.

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