It was definitely worth the wait.

Living Room View in Santa Barbara House by Madison Nicole Design
Molly Rose Photo

Renovations can be costly, there’s no denying that. And sometimes doing a huge remodel right after purchasing a home is not an option. That was the case for this couple, Stevi and Bryant, who bought their Santa Barbara home in 2009 and saved up for 10 years to renovate it and fix its odd layout.

Exterior in Santa Barbara House by Madison Nicole Design
“Stevi and Bryant both wanted to lean into the spanish style architecture that is so prevalent throughout Santa Barbara,” Madison explains.

Molly Rose Photo

“It was in need of a remodel then, but the clients were busy working, saving up money, and raising kids,” says Madison Lussier of Madison Nicole Design, who oversaw the project. “The home currently has three bedrooms and two bathrooms.”

The couple had drawn up plans with a retired architect (who was a family friend), but Stevi had a hard time seeing the vision in the 2D drawings. Madison was originally brought in to help with material selections, but she ended up helping them overhaul the layout entirely. “They had every intention of moving forward with the plan that had been drafted. I was hesitant to be too critical, as I knew they had spent some money working to complete these drawings, but as Stevi and I discussed everything, it became really clear to me that she didn’t fully understand how everything was planned,” Madison explains. “By the end of the consultation, the project had grown and they wanted me to evaluate what they had, and give suggestions for improvement before they invested a lot of money into something they wouldn’t be happy with.”

Living Room in Santa Barbara House by Madison Nicole Design
The living area has amazing views.

Molly Rose Photo

Function was the main goal for the busy family. Madison and team had to increase storage and finding practical ways to improve on the “bones” of the house. “The aesthetics were important, and of course everything turned out so beautifully, but it was not the primary focus,” she adds. “They also love to entertain and have friends and family over, so it was incredibly important to create areas that allowed for that, including the bar seating, the breakfast nook, and the large bench that runs the full length of the living room windows … all with storage incorporated, of course!”

Entry in Santa Barbara House by Madison Nicole Design
There is now a clear entry to the home.

Molly Rose Photo

The biggest issue with the layout was the house’s entry—there were three doors in the same area and it was unclear which door to use for the front entry. “In fact, the first time I came to the home for the initial consultation, I came in through the laundry room,” Madison says. “It’s a decent sized home, but the space planning was so poor and inefficient. Nothing capitalized on their stunning views, and it felt like your eyes got trapped inside instead of carrying through as they should.”

The new entry was originally covered outdoor space—Madison and team added walls and enclosed it into the home, finally creating a designated front entry with plenty of built-in storage. They also temporarily relocated the laundry room to the garage and turned that former space into a pantry area.

Kitchen in Santa Barbara House by Madison Nicole Design
“The kitchen features beautiful blue cabinets with a subtle green undertone, a zellige backsplash, and Taj Mahal quartzite countertops,” Madison says.

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Pantry in Santa Barbara House by Madison Nicole Design
Warm-hued, hand-painted backsplash tiles are paired with terra cotta herringbone-patterned floor tiles.

Molly Rose Photo

The kitchen also needed plenty of help. It was originally divided with a wall running though it, leaving tiny areas for the range and refrigerator. There was no counter space on either side of the range, too. The design team reworked the kitchen entirely—new layout, cabinets, countertops, and a stunning pantry.

Breakfast Nook in Santa Barbara House by Madison Nicole Design
“The seat cushion is made with performance fabric so it’s easy to clean, and we opted for pillows from our pillow line for some softness. One of my favorite pillows in our collection is named after the owner of this home, Stevi!” Madison says.

Molly Rose Photo

“The sink sits at a large window, overlooking the sweeping views of Santa Barbara. On the other side of the kitchen is a breakfast room that is perfect for their kids in the morning, and for quick family dinners,” Madison says.

Great Room in Santa Barbara House by Madison Nicole Design
“Aside from the removal of the fireplace here, we were able to save some money by going with simple finishes throughout,” explains Madison.

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The living room and dining room also got a major update. “The living room had a cumbersome fireplace that jutted out into the middle of the space, along with a step down from the dining room,” Madison explains. “It was a large space, but with all of these factors playing into it, it felt very segregated and unintentional.”

Madison and team removed the fireplace, making the living and dining areas one large great room. “We opted for no window treatments as well, as they get stunning sunset views that we didn’t want to block,” she says. “There were some existing exterior roller shades that they use when needed to block out light, and thankfully privacy is not a big concern.”

Entry Storage in Santa Barbara House by Madison Nicole Design
There’s plenty of built-in storage in the entry.

Molly Rose Photo

The owners and Madison planned for a second phase remodel—which will focus on the bedrooms,  bathrooms, and a new laundry room—as a way to save costs. “We developed a very loose overall plan for the house, to make sure we were considering potential future changes and not causing a chain of items that need to be re-worked once that begins,” Madison explains. “That small investment will likely end up saving them quite a bit of money as we jump into phase two in the next couple of years.”

Even though there is more renovations to do, Stevi and Bryant are thrilled with the changes. “I get little notes from Stevi all the time about how much she loves her home! We became friends throughout the process, and I’m so thankful for that,” Madison says. “They have half of a house that is absolutely perfect, and we’re all excited for the time to get the second half up to speed with what we have already accomplished!”