In his Brief Encounter series of short blogs on fabulous homes Nick Churton of Mayfair International Realty based in London visits a house that, for once, makes him quite forget where he is.
Broker: Village Properties
Agent: Riskin Partners
I am standing on the gravelled surface of the most exquisite formal, Italianate garden – beyond which the rocky landscape drops away to the heat-hazy Amalfi coast. All that can be heard is the playful chime of cascading water in the fountain and the occasional cry of an eagle overhead. Through the tall, slender cypress trees is the most lovely villa topped with rich terracotta coloured clay pantiles – just as it would have been in Roman times. A Juliet balcony at a bedroom casement offers the promise of a Romeo. On another level the pool ripples Hockney-like in the bright morning sunshine. Turning round to the rear of the property the Santa Ynez Mountains provide a fabulous backdrop. Hang on! The Santa Ynez Mountains are not in Italy. They are in California. Forgive my confusion but this place is so amazing that for a moment I am not sure where I am. Or to put it another way, this is one of the few properties I know that lets me be in two places at once.
What a jewel this house is. From the vine-shaded, pergola-topped terrace and the cloistered courtyard to the vaulted ceiling intimacy of the bedrooms this house gets it right. It is all here; columns, arches, stone walls, heavily timbered ceilings and, topping it all, the sublime view. The Americans do this so well. They often borrow a look here and a style there. Then they add something special of their own – comfort. It is an American deep-pile comfort wrapped beautifully in a great idea, so it does not become a pastiche but a celebration of location, design and luxury. It entirely belongs to its own place rather than seeming out of place and foreign.
I don’t know about you but I would live in this house, with this weather and with this view wherever it was in the world. But – joy of joys – it’s in Montecito, Santa Barbara and is just about as good as it gets.