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The recent shorter days and earlier sunsets have meant fewer beach walks for me the past couple of weeks. I still try to get my steps in, however, so I took a quick walk up the stairs at the courthouse yesterday. My reward at the top of the tower was a stereotypical Santa Barbara vista: bright blue sky above the mountains sloping down to meet the crisscrossing streets of downtown. The houses dotting the hills seemed to be winking down at the city below, happy in their hillside perches.

I visited one of those houses this week and experienced that hillside happiness first hand. The home at 11 Cedar Lane is warm and inviting. In many ways it feels brand new, and yet it has a solid, old-world, comfortable air. Built in 1950, it’s been completely updated, including many touches that were completed just this year.

As I walked up the driveway, I noticed how level the lovely yard is, even though the house is up on the hill. Cedar Lane is off of La Vista Grande, with beautiful views, just like the name implies. This neighborhood enjoys a sweet microclimate, warm and sunny up above the fog but not as hot as it gets further up. It’s in a zone just above the Eastside, along the Riviera, and a quick hop from Montecito.

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The front door opens directly onto the main room of the house a large, cozy living room anchored on one side by a solid-white brick fireplace and on the other by a huge window framing the inviting backyard. The gleaming, wide-plank hardwood floors rival the pine-beamed ceilings for naturally beautiful details. This room has almost a resort feeling to it, with the combination of impressive scale yet natural materials and ambience.

From the living room, the front wing of the house holds two bedrooms, with a bathroom in between. The slope of the roof makes for lovely angled-beam ceilings in both bedrooms, and bay windows add even more architectural interest.

The real surprises lie on the other side of the house. Back in the living room, an arched doorway leads through a hallway to the master suite. The master bedroom has French doors opening onto a raised wooden deck in the lush backyard. Beyond the deck lies a vivid lawn surrounded by a tall hedge. The whole effect is of a private tranquil retreat.

I was smitten by the bedroom, and then completely bowled over when I walked through to the master bath. Everything about this bathroom says, “Aaaah.” It’s not ostentatious but luxurious in a Zen, spa-type atmosphere. A large glass-enclosed shower rivals the deep bathtub positioned under a picture window. Both look out another back door onto the yard. I was in love even before I learned about the magic of the bathtub. It’s an MTI air bath, which purportedly offers an air-bubble massage experience even better than a whirlpool.

Courtesy Photo

Separating the bedroom and bathroom is a walk-in closet with elegantly efficient built-ins. I walked out onto the deck to admire the rest of the backyard, which includes fruit trees and a raised garden bed next to yet another door, which led me back inside and into the kitchen.

One side of the kitchen is open to the living room, yet it also feels separate and fully contained. Following a theme throughout the house, every detail of the kitchen is impeccable, yet its overall effect is understated. It boasts top-of-the-line stainless-steel appliances, including a Sub-Zero glass-fronted refrigerator and a Dacor range. It’s a space I’d love to spend some time in.

The whole house feels casually elegant, or elegantly casual. As I enjoyed the view on my way back down the hill, I was filled with a Zen-like sense of happiness from 11 Cedar Lane and its surroundings. No wonder the houses on the hillside are winking.

11 Cedar Lane is currently for sale in Santa Barbara, listed by John Sener of Village Properties Realtors. Reach John at 331-7402 or


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