The magic begins well before one walks through the front door of 121 West De la Guerra. Once you step off the street, up the wide staircase, through the courtyard, and down the garden path past the fruit trees and the fountain, you feel miles from the downtown scene you just left behind. I’m told that the architect of this beautiful set of townhomes was aiming for an old Spanish paseo feel, and he more than accomplished that goal. Red-tile roofs are fairly commonplace here in Santa Barbara, but the charm and authenticity of this building is a rarity.
This complex, officially named One Twenty One, sits almost at the corner of Chapala and De la Guerra, a stone’s throw from the shops, restaurants, and movie theaters of Paseo Nuevo and the rest of downtown. But its mid-block location plus charming entrance give it a romantic, world-of-its-own feel.
Once through the front door, everything sparkles and shines. Dark wood entryway floors lead into an airy ground floor that combines a gourmet-chef-ready kitchen with a living room whose French doors open onto a private patio. Upstairs, the bright, modern feeling is even more pronounced. The staircase leads to a loft with a balcony that overlooks the garden courtyard below. Not quite a separate bedroom, this space would be a perfect work-from-home office for a creative entrepreneur. The master bedroom is fit for a much larger abode, with a walk-in closet, large bath with double sinks, and another balcony.
These homes were completed in October 2008, a challenging time to sell 14 luxury townhomes. So some went up for sale, and the rest became rentals. This unit is the last of those homes, now on the market for the first time ever. The current owners are a mix of out-of-towners, seniors, and business people. Three of the townhomes were designated as affordable units, a required condition when the plans were originally approved.
The word “condo” never occurred to me as I toured this home and its surrounds. The street-in-Spain atmosphere and high-ceilinged interior conjured more charming terms. But romance aside, the practical considerations of homeowners-association meetings are somewhat mitigated by having only 13 other owners with whom to confer and collaborate. The high-density headache of downtown parking is alleviated by the private underground garage, gated and accessed by an elevator for residents only.
I was not at all surprised to learn that this property was recognized with an American Institute of Architects award for excellence in design, as well as the coveted Santa Barbara Beautiful award in 2014. Whether judged as a condo, townhome, or something in between, the magic and beauty of this residence will resonate with one lucky new owner who will refer to it simply as home.
121 West De la Guerra Street, #7, is currently for sale in Santa Barbara, listed by Kat Perello-Hitchcock and Jake Ralston of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. Call 705-4485 or 455-9600.