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Kristin Renee Photography

Make Myself at Home: Riviera Tree House

Take a look Inside This Secluded Riviera Tree House


What was your fantasy home when you were a kid? A fancy mansion with columns out front and a circular drive? Maybe a farmhouse with a barn and plenty of land? My dream home, possibly born of the Swiss Family Robinson attraction at Disneyland, was always a tree house. The draw was something about being far above it all, surrounded by greenery and secluded, yet still able to look down and see everyone going about their business far below.

I found my fantasy tree house last week when I visited the home for sale at 1553 Oramas Road in Santa Barbara. One little finger of Oramas juts off of California Street to end in a cul-de-sac of just a few houses.

From the street, a flagstone walkway leads past a carport to a wide wooden staircase that zigzags through oaks and other greenery down toward the house. Landings along the way provide multiple vantage points and create a dramatic approach to the house itself. The cedar-shingled exterior blends into its idyllic setting, and custom banisters lead to a hand-carved wooden front door.

Kristin Renee Photography

Inside, floor-to-ceiling windows frame an amazing view, drawing all eyes out over the treetops to the city and all the way to the ocean and the islands beyond. The oak forest around and below the house provides complete privacy, creating an atmosphere of intimacy and seclusion.

While ogling the vista, I realized that the front door leads into the top floor of the house, with a second level down a staircase, mimicking the terrain of the hillside itself. The entry opens into a kitchen/dining room combo, separated by a long tiled breakfast bar. The dining room has a fireplace along the far wall, with a Saltillo tile hearth. Soaring cathedral ceilings throughout the upstairs, hewn from wide wooden planks, bring the outside in. The roofline extends out over the dining room, creating a spacious loft feeling, and showcases a separate “tower” room on the left side of the house.

Kristin Renee Photography

My curiosity was piqued by the hexagonal tower space, but I decided to explore the rest of the house first and save this unique architectural element for last. The master bedroom suite occupies the other side of this top floor, with a laundry room, master bath, and large closet. Running the length of the bedroom is a private balcony, begging to be used for morning coffee or a glass of wine while watching the sunset. This deck also offers a clear view of the tower. Its two-story frame is bolstered from below by a steel ladder framework that’s a marvel of both engineering and artistry, and it appears to almost float next to the rest of the house.

I was now even more curious to see inside the tower; however, I stuck to my plan and headed downstairs first. On the right side of the lower level, two bedrooms share a bathroom and enjoy sliding doors out onto a huge deck that spans the entire floor. Whether these rooms are used for guests or family, I imagine a lot of time spent with these doors wide open, enjoying the natural beauty all around.

Kristin Renee Photography

The living room occupies the left side of the lower level. A spacious but cozy space, it has another fireplace and also enjoys a huge wall of windows. Struck once again by the view, I almost missed one of the subtle surprises of the house. Tucked into what appears to be a hallway closet lies a full wet bar, complete with a Dutch door that transforms into a serving surface with the flick of a wrist.

I was delighted by this fun surprise but still eager to see the tower. The lower level of the tower is outfitted with a Murphy bed and built-in shelves, plus windows all around. Upstairs, the tower room is easily my most favorite spot in the house. The same unique shape and panoramic view are complemented by a wood-paneled cathedral ceiling with a dozen beams spiraling from the center. Two additional small floral-paned decorative windows are reminiscent of portholes.

It was then that I realized that as much as this home feels like a tree house, it also reminded me of a ship. Cantilevered out over the mountainside, it is a sanctuary above the fray. Whether from the deck of a ship or the seclusion of a tree house, the new owners of 1553 Oramas Road can survey the scene below from the serenity of their perch in their perfect dream home.

1553 Oramas Road is currently for sale in Santa Barbara, co-listed by Cara Gamberdella, Erin Timmerman, and Judy Mansbach-Robinson of Village Properties Realtors. Reach Cara at (805) 680-3826 or cara@villagesite.com. Reach Erin at (805) 689-9970 or etimmerman@villagesite.com. Reach Judy at (805) 570-5555 or judy@judymansbach.com.

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