Cover The pool area of this home in Santa Barbara, US (All photography: Karyn Millet)

With its cosy interiors and spectacular views, this exquisite waterfront house designed by Tom Stringer in Santa Barbara is ideal for weekend getaways by the beach

Carpinteria in south-eastern Santa Barbara is one of the top beach towns and holiday hotspots in the US, famed for its unspoilt shoreline, mild climate and sunny charm. These qualities made it the perfect location as a summertime weekend retreat for a TV producer and his family, who desired a newly built home they could also host their guests in.  

In keeping with the general look of the residences in the vicinity, the clients requested an abode that stylistically mirrored Carpinteria and beach houses at large. “As the owners planned on using the residence as a weekend retreat, their initial vision was also for it to be reminiscent of a small inn, where guests could feel comfortable and relax upon entering,” says Tom Stringer, founder and president of his eponymous design firm, Tom Stringer Design Partners. 

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Working with NMA Architects and RHC Construction, the designers set about crafting a snug 0.3ha property along Padaro Beach that celebrates its laidback coastal setting with a rustic yet modern aesthetic.

Three structures each house the primary residence, a two-bedroom guest house, and a gym, spa and garage; the buildings border a private courtyard with a Moroccan-tiled lap pool and lush greenery. On the beach side of the home are open and covered terraces where the owners and their visitors can take in the panoramic vistas and banish the stressors of city life. 

Stepping into the foyer of the two-storey primary residence immediately sets the tone for recreation. Fashioned like the lobby of a cosy lodge, this welcoming space features a bar where guests can quench their thirst with a beverage before they unpack.

Sunlight streams in from a large skylight that caps the adjoining double-volume staircase, which also features suspended modern Moroccan lanterns that lend a stylish glow to evening drink sessions. On the first floor, the staircase rise features tansu-style storage housing hidden wine coolers and drawers for bottles and glasses. 

Also in the foyer is an elevator clad in a wood-gridded glass shell, which catches the eye with its old-style telephone booth vibes. 

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Stringer reveals that the overall design concept was meant to feel open and fluid throughout. The bright and breezy living and dining rooms, oriented east and west, feature large, retractable glass doors that open out to the beach and pool courtyard. The neutral-hued furnishings in the living space are peppered with colours and textures in the form of accent cushions, which also act as a foil to the ebony black baby grand piano commanding attention here.

The dayroom, family room and main bar are also suffused with natural light, with plush seating and hints of eye-catching colour that beckon guests to linger, with a drink or a good book in hand.  

Located upstairs are the master suite and the guest suites, which share an oceanfront terrace with translucent glass pocket doors that allow it to be divided per suite for privacy. The entrance hall to the guest suites, awash in light wood, is styled as a library and incorporates a bar. 

One guest room also features two Pullman-style beds that fold out of the wall to accommodate bustling, guest-filled weekends. The master bedroom, which also faces the ocean with its own generous terrace, boasts a custom wooden soaking tub and sinks made in London. 

Compelling design touches abound in the home, lending artistry and vibrance to various spaces throughout the property. The use of teal and blue hues as accents, be they in the form of the fridge, range hood, living room poufs, foyer bar stools, outdoor deck chairs or bedside lamp stands, alludes to the home’s seaside setting and lends a sense of freshness.

Other decorative elements, such as the tasselled and richly embroidered accent cushions in a plethora of colours, and the ornate wall shelves and lanterns, add visual richness and a lively feel.  

The two-year-long project is testament to Tom Stringer’s proficiency in seamlessly merging art, antiques and contemporary furniture to form calming yet characterful homes in tune with their owners’ needs and interests. “We accomplished this task, and the result is very happy clients,” Stringer declares. 

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