Address: 790 Mission Oaks Lane
Status: On the market Price: $1,845,000
The only disappointment I experienced when I visited 790 Mission Oaks Lane last Sunday was that I did not meet the resident cat. Pets are not usually prominent features at open houses, but this cat is noteworthy because he was a gift to the owners from another local celebrity international chef who was a frequent visitor, cooking and dining alongside the home’s longtime owner and renowned chef, the late Don “Skip” Skipworth. Skip inherited the cat, Minou. Now that Skip has passed away, too, this residence — minus the cat — is on the market, looking for a new chef to enjoy the kitchen and the unique residence that it inhabits.
I’m not sure whether to wax more poetic about the exterior or interior of this magical Mission Canyon home.
Outdoors, I could have spent all afternoon sitting on the stone bench beside the koi pond, watching the colorful fish swim in the sunlight, and listening to the rush of the waterfall as I admired the central rose garden and the bamboo that surrounds and embraces the property. I learned later that Skip was an expert on bamboo, and there are over 35 different varieties used throughout the property’s thoughtful landscaping. There are at least six different outside seating areas on multiple levels, and with varying views, taking advantage of the meandering pathways and lush plantings all over the property. One such area features a hot tub shaded by a pagoda, while another pagoda graces one of several outdoor living rooms. I was drawn magnetically from one level to the next, admiring the details everywhere I turned: garden statuary, tropical palms and ferns, beautiful wooden fencing, and custom lighting fixtures. However, as many details as I noticed, the overall impression is open, simple, and far from cluttered.
Not to be outdone, the interior is just as striking. Entering the main house, one is tempted up the custom mahogany and teak staircase constructed with mortise and tenon craftsmanship. The upstairs holds the master bedroom, bathroom, and an office overlooking the gardens. Back downstairs, there’s a great room encompassing a living and dining room in one grand expanse, with windows, skylights, and sliding doors bringing the greenery inside. On the other side of the wall is the most amazing kitchen you’ve ever seen. In 2007, the home underwent a major remodel, and Viking designed and sponsored the kitchen and culinary area as a teaching space for Skip. He and his partner, Carlos, taught Pan-Asian and French cooking classes over the years for up-and-coming chefs and varied groups of students and friends. The house radiates a warmth reminiscent of the happy, nurturing times spent there.
In addition to the main house, there is a two-bedroom, two-bath guest house and a separate one-bedroom, one-bath “tea house.” The Asian influence is found throughout the entire property, with bamboo flooring, sliding shoji screens, and spare geometric lines. The whole place exudes an ambience of calm and serenity that I carried with me down the pathway, past the koi pond, and back out into the real world.
790 Mission Oaks Lane is currently for sale in Santa Barbara, listed by Doug Van Pelt and Thomas Schultheis of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. Reach Doug or Tom at 729-2802.