Courtesy Photo

The most striking architectural element I’ve seen lately is the floor-to-ceiling steel and glass door at 125 Gray Avenue in the Funk Zone. The door leads from the living room to the courtyard patio, pivoting outward in a compelling blend of physics, beauty, and artistry. This dramatic 17-foot entry may steal the show before one even steps foot inside, but a complete tour of this home reveals one jaw-dropping feature after another.

I walked up during a recent lively Saturday afternoon. If you’ve spent any time in the Funk Zone lately, you’ve seen that the neighborhood is hopping. Two-block-long Gray Avenue is no exception. There’s an art gallery at the end of the street, a buggy rental outlet at the corner attracts plenty of attention, and the popularity of the Waterline complex on the next block means there’s no shortage of people or activity.

However, as soon as I crossed the gated entryway of 125 Gray Avenue, the Funk Zone faded away. I found myself in a cool, contemporary courtyard — a quiet respite from the neighborhood flurry. The front patio area is a sunken garden walled by concrete and softened by drought-tolerant landscaping, including a profusion of bright fuchsia bougainvillea that spills over the top of the garage. This courtyard is just large enough for a few chairs, but not to worry — there are plenty of decks and outdoor entertaining areas throughout this home.

After admiring the showpiece pivoting door, I stepped through the “regular” front door and into a light, bright great room with an immediate impression of clean-lined spaciousness. The living room has 19-foot ceilings, a fireplace, and a huge window along one wall that mimics the front doorway like an echo. Polished gray concrete floors enhance the crisp, clean lines throughout. There is a floating steel staircase along the righthand wall of the room, but before exploring upstairs, I walk deeper in to explore the kitchen.

Two separate dining areas make efficient use of the spacious kitchen. An island with a breakfast bar is positioned so that diners are facing toward the kitchen and away from the living room, helping delineate the spaces. To the right is a dining table with chairs on one side and a built-in bench on the other. Through a hallway separated by a sliding pocket door is a bathroom, with a bedroom beyond. These rooms are sleek and private, despite their proximity to the living rooms. At first look, I thought that this bedroom, with sliding doors to a private patio and a laundry room cleverly hidden behind closet doors, was the master bedroom.

Then I went upstairs and was completely blown away. Just the act of walking up the steel staircase that seems to float above the living room was a treat. I found myself in a loft space that could serve as a den, a bedroom, or a bright, open office space. Beyond the loft is one of the coolest bathrooms I’ve ever seen. A glass-enclosed shower and a free-standing tub are showcased by Japanese-style shoji screens that slide into pocket doors, allowing as much or as little privacy or openness as desired. There is no doubt that this is the master suite.

I was smitten with this contemporary pied-à-terre. I thought my tour was done … until I discovered the rooftop terrace. I walked out onto an outdoor living room that feels like a treehouse or clubhouse for adults. It has a fireplace, a wet bar, and amazing 180-degree views of the ocean, the harbor, and the mountains. Of course, this rooftop room is open to the elements, but with Santa Barbara’s temperate climate, I’d be dining, lounging, and entertaining up top all year round.

Living in the Funk Zone would have its pros and cons. There are myriad restaurants and hot spots within arms’ reach, the beach is two blocks away, and the freeway is convenient. But the crowds and the action aren’t for everyone. At 125 Gray Avenue, you’ve got the best of all worlds. The entertainment is at your doorstep, but you can shut it all out and enjoy your private respite in the eye of the storm, admitting only as much or as little of the world outside as you want to.

125 Gray Avenue is currently for sale in Santa Barbara, listed by David Kim of Village Properties Realtors. Reach David at or (805) 296-0662.


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