Santa Barbara Fixer Upper

I haven’t met anyone who didn’t enjoy a good before and after design story. In this case, a great one! Have you? Designer Madeleine Stuart and her husband, writer Steve Oney, purchased a historic Santa Barbara bungalow and fixed it up into a totally dreamy  retreat. Wanna see? 🙂

The Spanish style home came with plenty of charm and great bones, which helped of course, but the dark interiors needed fresh coats of paint and new fittings. And nothing like white walls to capture all that beautiful Santa Barbara light.


The living room before, in great shape but a tad dark and looking more like a ski lodge than a beach house.


The living room after, feeling all bright and cozy. The new furnishings are such cool mix of Spanish style antiques and pieces from Madeline Stuart’s own furniture collection.


The walls are painted white throughout the home. A skilled blend of textures and materials keep things interesting. Layering leather and linen, terra-cotta tiles, sisal and plenty of natural woods is not an easy task but the result brings so much warmth and depth to the interiors! I particularly love those linen window treatments!

Like any great Southern California home, French doors open almost every room into the ever green gardens and I can almost feel the breeze, all the way from Illinois! 🙂


The library before.


The library after. Dressed in white and drenched in sunlight, it is warmed up with a pair of vintage rattan chairs and comfortable upholstery.


The dining room, in its original state, when the house was purchased.


The dining room after! Simple, clean, minimal.


The kitchen was in pretty good shape to begin with, so the designer chose to keep the cabinets and replace only the range, hood and countertops.


And it almost feels like a totally different kitchen!


The master bedroom before.


An after shot of the master. Paint, window treatments and a gorgeous pendant light draw the eyes up.


Master bath (there’s no before picture for this room, but the after is enough for me! )So good.


In the home office, an Eames chair sits nonchalantly atop a vintage Afghan rug. The desk is a 19th century antique, while the lamp is a 1940s piece. Different periods, different styles, yet they work so well together!


A guest bedroom before.


The same guest bedroom after.


In the gardens, boxwood spheres and pebble pavement lend a clean, traditional look. The outdoor fireplace and lounging area add a comfortable twist.  After all, West Coast is all about the outdoor living.




I hope you enjoyed seeing this pretty fixer-upper. For more details and sourcing, head over to Architectural Digest. See you tomorrow!