After a Sunny-Chic Remodel, A Vintage Santa Barbara Resort Is Filled with Easy, Beachy Decor Inspiration
Who hasn’t dreamed of moving in to their favorite hotel? The Mar Monte, Santa Barbara’s latest beachfront destination, is packed with great ideas for coastal living.
When the Mar Monte Hotel (then called the Vista Mar Monte) opened in Santa Barbara back in June 1931, the city’s 30,000 residents were still recovering from the 1925 earthquake, oil production in the area had reached its peak, and the newly built harbor started welcoming tourists by boat. The hotel’s opening night was so packed that management had to cancel a Tango competition because there wasn’t any room on the dance floor. Nearly everything about the resort town has changed since then, but many of its landmark Spanish revival buildings—including the original archways, fireplaces, and lobby of the Mar Monte Hotel—are still standing. Christian Schnyder, the principal designer and founder of the interior design firm Beleco who was tasked with a full remodel of the 200-room beachfront hotel, just had to hack through a series of ’80s-era additions and remodels to uncover its vintage charm.
“When it was built, it had a kind of Spanish glamour with an Art Deco feel. But after it expanded to a second, third, and forth building, it had lost its identity. They took away its soul,” says Schnyder. “We brought Saltillo tile back to the main lobby, and installed heavy carved doors. We had a couple of original design elements for us to work with, to bring back its character and charm,” he says.
Schnyder’s design embraces curved and wavy shapes, sleek furniture, and a color palette that draws from the local atmosphere—from terracotta to sunshine yellow to ocean blue. There are so many steal-able design ideas for indoor and outdoor lounging (Why wouldn’t you line your dining room with book shelves? Or mix and match outdoor furniture to create conversation areas?).
With custom furniture from Casamidy, the stylish Mexican housewares company, outdoor furniture from Harbour, and lighting from Cedar & Moss, the hotel has plenty of ideas that are easy enough to replicate at home.
“We went back to see what was popular in the ’30s, the distinct colors of the era, and that terracotta color was used quite a bit,” says Schnyder.
The guest rooms have an uncluttered simplicity, with iron upholstered beds, cane seating, and Moroccan silk sabra pillows on each of the beds. The carpet is by Stark’s hospitality division.
“The style is very relaxed and comfortable, like Santa Barbara,” says Schnyder. “We wanted to make guests feel like they’ve escaped to somewhere special the moment they arrive.”