Montecito

DSC_0537 Santa Barbara was our last leg of the journey before heading down to LA and then back to Michigan. It was wildly inspirational. These pictures pretty much speak for themselves.

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Our lovely accommodations at my Aunt Betsy's house were a wonderful example of how West Coast living can so seamlessly blend outdoor and indoor living. The courtyard, centered around the fountain, is almost treated like an exterior foyer.

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Color inspiration can be found in the most unexpected places!

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We visited Casa del Herrero (otherwise know as "House of the Blacksmith") which is an amazingly authentic example of Spanish Colonial Architecture. The details in the house remain virtually intact and the attention paid to them is outstanding. From the grounds, to the tile work, custom furniture and architectural elements, I was energized at every turn.

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When traveling it is obvious field research can be most inspirational through retail design establishments. We were not disapointed at William Laman where we found many treasures to bring home with us!

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We had lunch at the Santa Barbara Biltmore. Sometimes it feel like the epitome of vacation is the ability to have a leisurely lunch, outside with ocean views. We noshed on a seafood salad, had freshly grown mint in our iced teas and then.. as if we had ordered it up ourselves... a family of dolphins started swimming by, sometimes arching their whole bodies out of the water!

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The interior of the hotel was gorgeous. The style reminded me of the Everglades Club down in Palm Beach. The dark interior doesn't feel heavy when it's combined with plastered walls, wicker, linens, Spanish inspired tiles, palms, orchids and ambient lighting.

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Lotusland is a pretty ridiculous private garden, situation on a once private estate. For 40 years, Madame Walska cultivated exotic plants and a variety of themed gardens. Notoriously a character (they said she used to walk around with parrots on her shoulder) the gardens is horticulture at it's most whimsical, and unexpectedly dramatic.

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For our last meal before heading down to LA, we ate at San Ysidro Ranch, situation in the Montecito foothills. As I have noted in most California design, the hotel, gardens and dining facility are another example of classic, easy luxury. It is effortlessly natural, romantic and comfortable... which can be a difficult harmony to achieve. From the dining and lobby facilities that had a personal, homey touch to the cook's garden and flower gardens it was a perfect place to wind down a fabulous trip.

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Needless to say, we headed back to Michigan refreshed and inspired. Vacation success!