Make Myself at Home: Remodeled Home on the Westside

Take a Look Inside 519 West Islay Street, in the heart of Santa Barbara’s Westside.

Address: 519 West Islay Street

Status: On the market

Price: $779,900

It was a great Christmas at our house. I feel extremely fortunate that both of my kids were able to come home for the holidays this year. I use the terms “kids” and “home” fairly liberally. The kids are 26- and 28-year-old adults, and neither of them has lived in Santa Barbara full-time for more than five years. Yet somehow, they were able to arrange work schedules and girlfriends and other commitments to make it back for a holiday visit.

While they were here, we had plenty of friends and family to see and favorite places to visit. Somehow one of the first meals of every trip back home needs to be a burrito from Cuca’s. We bundled up and sat outside of the West Micheltorena Street restaurant and doused our various super burrito creations with squeeze-bottle salsas as we caught up and compared notes in a pre-Christmas carne feast.

A few days later, I drove to visit an open house at 519 West Islay Street. As I got close, I realized that my destination was walking distance to Cuca’s in the vibrant and very self-contained Westside neighborhood. Grocery stores, Laundromats, clothing stores, a bakery, plenty of restaurants, and even a hardware store are all within the main corridor of what’s known as Santa Barbara’s Westside. Both vehicle and pedestrian bridges connect the Westside to downtown, and the additional conveniences of the Mesa and the beach are right next door.

Islay Street lies between Pedregosa and Valerio streets. Also falling between San Pascual and the freeway, 519 West Islay has little Thomas Avenue around the corner acting as a one-block buffer. This house is therefore almost on a corner, but not quite, and almost next to the railroad tracks, but not quite. The result is a sunny street on the quiet part of the Westside on a nice block without much traffic.

A quintessential white picket fence surrounds 519 West Islay, working its charms before I even walk through the front door. The home is a 1930s craftsman, painted a combination blue color scheme that on this day happens to perfectly match the winter sky. A brick pathway and two steps lead up to the front porch and into the house. The left side of this home consists of a large living room with a big white brick fireplace along one wall and an archway into a dining area, with the kitchen beyond. It’s a very open and airy room, presenting a much more spacious first impression than many houses from the same era.

On the right side of the house, two of the bedrooms and bathrooms lie off a hallway. The first bedroom benefits from bay windows on the front of the house and additional windows on the side, so it is both bright and charming. The character and shape of the bay windows make this front bedroom my favorite, even though it’s neither the largest nor most well-appointed of the bedrooms.

Walking toward the back of the house, past the second bedroom and bathrooms, you can walk to the left into the kitchen or continue to the back bedroom. The kitchen is serviceable, not fancy, but large enough for a breakfast area. Dining in the kitchen would leave other options for the additional space in the living room if the new owner chose not to have a separate formal dining room. There is a large laundry room off the kitchen, as well, which is a bonus not often found in similar homes.

The back bedroom shows off the versatility of this home’s R-3 zoning. It is self-contained, with an en suite bathroom and French doors providing a separate entrance out to the backyard.

The large backyard is enclosed by a tall wooden fence. It’s a fairly empty open space, providing a blank canvas with plenty of room for outdoor dining, gardens, or play equipment. A completely separate fenced side yard is perfect for a dog run.

The house at 519 West Islay still retains the charm of its craftsman heritage, but it has been remodeled and enlarged to provide additional convenience and versatility. Priced under $800,000, and with its R-3 zoning offering the option of rental income, it is arguably one of the more affordable properties on the market. I’m not sure if it was the nostalgia for my recent holiday visit with the boys or the fact that the lunch hour was near, but my stomach suddenly reminded me that Cuca’s was nearby, which might be this home’s most tempting selling point in my book.

519 West Islay Street is currently for sale in Santa Barbara, listed by Bryan Munoz of Santa Barbara Realty. Reach Bryan at (805) 284-5794 or


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