Make Myself at Home: Montecito Hilltop Sanctuary

Magical Montecito Hilltop Contemporary

Address: 168 Canon View Road |Status: On the market | Price: $2,450,000
Jim Bartsch

Address: 168 Canon View Road

Status: On the market

Price: $2,450,000

Generations of kids have dreamed of spending the night at a museum, being locked inside with the entire place to explore without any rules or restrictions. MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, gives a current crop of Santa Barbara youngsters a whole new location to fantasize about. In addition to the three floors of gadgets and exhibits inside, the rooftop sky garden with its lookout tower, glass floor, and wave machine make a pretty great al fresco setting. Kids and adults alike would jump at the opportunity to have MOXI all to themselves for a secret slumber party.

Jim Bartsch

The enchanting property for sale at 168 Canon View Road has been extensively remodeled and newly imagined by the same architectural firm that designed MOXI, so for its lucky new owner-to-be, those fantasies are about to come to life.

The home is situated just a seven-minute drive to both downtown Santa Barbara and Montecito’s Coast Village Road, and is in the coveted Cold Spring School District, but it feels worlds away from civilization, set in a mountaintop hideaway.

AB Design Studio is the firm that undertook the complete remodel of this home. When I asked architect Clay Aurell, one of the firm’s founders, what drew them to this particular house, he cited the location as one of the prime reasons. “It feels like living in the mountains, but with all of the amenities very close,” said Aurell. The views were another big draw, but they weren’t apparent until the remodel got underway. Aurell explained, “We cleared out a lot of overgrown vegetation to reveal canyon and mountain views that are truly superb.”

I can personally second that claim. When I visited last week. I kept trying to decide which direction offered the most striking vista. Standing at the home’s front door — or when looking out just about every window — one can enjoy stunning views of Cathedral Peak to the right, all the way to the Channel Islands to the left, with a sweeping mountain and canyon panorama in between.

Jim Bartsch

The house itself is a four-bedroom, four-bath contemporary masterpiece filled with modern features and amenities. It was renovated so thoroughly that all of its systems and details are new. In addition to the main residence, there is a separate two-story guest house, with a garage, workshop and utility room on the first level, and a huge living space above with a three-quarter bath. No matter what this space is used for, the deck that runs the length of the upstairs will be a focal point.

In the main house, the living/dining room, kitchen, master bedroom, two baths, and laundry are all on the first level, with three bedrooms and two baths upstairs. Walking in the front door, the first thing that hit me is that even though I was on the ground floor, it felt higher because of the awesome views all around. The great room boasts floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doors, and is encircled by a deck offering even more panoramic vantage points.

Jim Bartsch

The interior is stunning, highlighted by cathedral ceilings with wood-beam accents plus hardwood floors throughout the first level. A fireplace in the great room separates the dining area from the living room space. The kitchen is screened from the foyer by a clever half-wall but feels open to both the great room and the exterior space beyond.

Walking into the kitchen, the artistic elements caught my attention first: a farmhouse sink and granite countertops are set off by custom white cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, and open shelving. But the functional features of the kitchen are plentiful as well: a professional gas range, fridge, and freezer, convection and microwave ovens, a wine refrigerator and pantry with touch-sensitive drawers and cabinets, plus an “appliance garage” with twin pull-out pantries on either side. The laundry room is also a dream, with a sink and wrap-around folding table.

Jim Bartsch

The master bedroom offers spectacular canyon views and an enviable walk-in closet that’s been outfitted with custom drawers, shelving, and rods. The master bath — and all of the bathrooms — feature custom tile, marble countertops, chrome fixtures, and all new cabinets, lighting, and mirrors.

I was so taken with the house already that I almost felt as if I didn’t need to go upstairs, but I’m glad that I did. The staircase itself is an artistic marvel, with wooden bannisters supporting a hog-wire framework that’s echoed on the exterior railings. It’s high-tech yet rustic, and it fits the home perfectly. Upstairs, one of the bedrooms has an en suite bath, and a balcony with arguably the most stunning views of the entire house; well worth the trip upstairs.

Jim Bartsch

Before heading back downstairs, I paused at a small landing that affords a view of the foyer, great room, and exterior deck beyond. This perspective reinforces the symmetry of the house’s design. Every interior space connects to the scenery and mountain views outside.

As I was leaving the house, I paused in the front yard to take a long, last look at the view. White clouds zigzagged across the blue sky, and a hawk floated high above, seeming to be a part of the magical backdrop to this fantastic house. Or maybe it was a falcon. I needed my lookout tower telescope from the rooftop sky garden at the MOXI museum to be sure.

168 Canon View Road is currently for sale in Montecito, listed by Jason Streatfeild of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. Reach Jason at 280-9797 or For more photos and a video of this property, visit


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