The space is open, airy, and takes advantage of its surroundings.

Great Room Santa Barbara House
Gavin Cater

When you live in California, you’d be silly not to take advantage of our temperate climate. You can surf in the winter, go hiking just about any time of year, and even dine alfresco even when it’s a “chilly” 50 degrees. And if you’re a homeowner in California, it’s pretty much mandatory to incorporate some sort of indoor-outdoor living to your space, whether you have a bistro table on a balcony or a full outdoor kitchen. Salt Architecture’s Dylan Henderson had clients who moved from Chicago and really wanted to incorporate the outdoors into their new ranch-style build in Santa Barbara, which includes a 3,992-square foot, three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom house and a 653-square-foot ADU.

Exterior Santa Barbara House
The house exterior

Gavin Cater

“The clients wanted a very open home that felt connected to the outside world. The benefit of our regional climate is that we have many days where doors and windows can be wide open allowing for a wonderful outdoor experience,” explains Dylan. “The house was oriented to allow for passthrough breeze and light to fill the interior spaces of the home. Stylistically my clients were open to exploring a transitional type of design where we pulled from traditional elements while incorporating more contemporary lines and design features.”

Open Floor Plan Santa Barbara House
The great room, dining room, kitchen, and kitchen seating area have an open floor plan.

Gavin Cater

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The whole design and construction process started with an empty flag lot that Dylan says had a fairly constrained building area and height limit. “The steeper hillside and drive access presented issues with site layout, overall allowable height, and building envelope. All contributed to the final design and siting of the project on the site,” he adds.

Because of the topography of the site, Dylan and team used the natural contours of the land  to guide the project. “The hillside allowed for a walkout on a lower level on the west side of the home while the natural topography raised to the east allowing for expansive deck to grade to terraced landscape,” he says.

Kitchen Santa Barbara House
The kitchen features soaring ceilings.

Gavin Cater

In addition to using the surroundings as a guide, the team blended a traditional California ranch aesthetic with contemporary finishes and design elements. “We have clean gable roofs, dormers, and deep overhangs on the southern side of the home, but we also have standing seam roofs, exposed steel beams and kickers, and blackened steel pergolas, which bring a fresh vision to the architecture,” Dylan explains.

Kitchen Living Area Santa Barbara House
The kitchen also has a living area with plenty of seating.

Gavin Cater

The great room, and kitchen living and bar area are connected in an open floor plan with vaulted gable roofs. Each room is flanked with fireplaces to create different entertaining spots.

Primary Bedroom Santa Barbara House
The primary bedroom opens up to a private patio.

Gavin Cater

Primary Bathroom Santa Barbara House
The primary bathroom also features an outdoor shower.

Gavin Cater

The primary bedroom is located on the lower level of the home, which also has a primary patio with stunning views. “It is a really special place in the morning as the eastern light filters through the eucalyptus on the eastern property line,” adds Dylan. The interior design was done by Misha Cooper, who outfitted the space with the homeowners’ pieces and heirlooms along with new furnishings.

ADU Santa Barbara House
A look at the ADU that is built into the hillside.

Gavin Cater

ADU Interior Santa Barbara House
The ADU opens up to the pool and backyard.

Gavin Cater

The ADU is a shed-roof design that’s tucked into the hillside—the concept for the space was for it to feel like a covered porch when opened and a cozy den when closed. Dylan describes the walls as board-formed concrete with two large bi-folding doors that open the interior space to the outside patio, pool, and hot tub. “The roof was actually meant to be a green roof, but due to fire restrictions we used a large stone cobble which came out really well and is less maintenance,” Dylan says. “The goal of the roof was for it to be an extension of the beautiful landscape done by Bosky Landscape Architecture, which I believe it accomplished.”

Pool Santa Barbara House
Another look at the pool and ADU.

Gavin Cater

It’s no surprise that the homeowners love the space and can’t believe how beautifully it all turned out. And the couple’s dogs enjoy it, too. “When going through graduate school at Berkeley I listened to a lecture where the visiting design professional concluded his talk with ‘Don’t forget the dog.’ My clients have several dogs that are very special to them and when visiting the house the dogs are constantly running through the space, patrolling their zones, and rushing here and there in the landscape,” Dylan explains. “The open flow of the home and the connection to the outdoors makes this possible and I think, therefore, successful. It is a very livable home and that was the goal. The pups seem to agree.”