A Montecito Ranch House Finds the Balance Between Priceless Views and Budget Decor
An all-white single-story house—with multiple outdoor rooms, vibrant green accents, and modern-heirloom decor—stands out among neighboring mansions because of its simple perfection.
When Orange County-based interior designer Amanda Chappell got the call from her sister about a ranch house she and her husband purchased in Santa Barbara, Chappell knew she was about to have some fun.
“She gave me free rein over the project, but it all had to be done for a dime,” says Chappell, who was ecstatic to get the green light to re-think this classic ranch house in the foothills with “peekaboo views” despite the financial restrictions. The budget was tight, but there were zero limits on her creativity. “Most of the people I work with let me sneak in a few consignment pieces here and there, but they’re mostly focused on new things that are trying to look old.”
When you think of Montecito, the storied neighborhood in Santa Barbara that Oprah and a certain former prince call home, “bargain” isn’t the first word that springs to mind. It’s one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the world, studded with $50 million houses. So when a three-bedroom vintage ranch house like this one sells, the neighbors have come to expect the demolition crew to roll in and start construction on yet another fake-Tuscan villa.
“They bought it from the original owners, and the interiors hadn’t been touched since the 1970s,” Chappell says. “I love a classic ranch house, so it was a fun challenge for me to update and furnish it on a shoestring, using as much vintage and secondhand as possible.”
Chappell’s goal was to unify the interior space, create more of a flow between the rooms by punching through one of the walls, remodel the bathrooms, and start with a clean canvas of Simply White paint by Benjamin Moore.
The biggest expense was adding a third full bathroom, replacing the fixtures with Signature Hardware faucets and shower heads, and investing in Clé Zellige tile in ocean-inspired shades of blue and teal.
“We used one slab of black marble for two bathrooms,” Chappell explains. “And then we used a slab of white marble in the kitchen, taking the leftover remnants and putting it in that additional bathroom.”
The furniture is a mix of vintage and consignment pieces—paintings, bed frames, chairs, tables, and rugs—scavenged for a steal from local consignment shops in Newport, Chappell’s hometown, and nearby Summerland.
In the bedrooms, a mix of linens from West Elm are elevated by a few select pillows and coverlets from Blue Springs Home, and a handful of vintage Ralph Lauren pillows.
But it’s the outdoor space that stops the show. There is one long veranda at the rear of the house that connects the primary bedroom to the main living area, and three smaller decks and patios furnished with lounge chairs, dining areas, and conversation circles.
“We bought eight Adirondack chairs from Home Depot, of that composite material that’s meant to look like wood,” says Chappell. “They’re very low maintenance and well made. The rest of the outdoor pieces are from Article.”
Chappell advises anyone who’s intrigued by consignment shopping to trust their gut. If you love something, buy it. Then figure out how to make it work later.
“If you surround yourself with things that you love, you’re going to be happier,” Chappell says. “If everything in a house is brand new, it’s flat and boring. There’s no life to it.”
As shipping delays and limited availability of new items continues, it’s getting harder to find bargains at secondhand and antique stores, Chappell says. But that shouldn’t deter you.
“Mixing vintage into your home can show the beauty of old things, of mixing texture and color in unexpected ways,” she says. “This house is special to me because it’s the one and only project that I’ve been able to do exactly the way that I want. It’s a simple house in a gorgeous setting filled with interesting things.”