Make Myself at Home: Downtown Bungalow

Sweet Downtown Bungalow

Front entrance at 409 Donze Avenue
Rafael Bautista Photos

Address: 409 Donze Avenue

Status: On the market

Price: $1,025,000

From the foliage extending a tropical welcome on the way in to the hot tub nestled under the lanai in the far reaches of the backyard, the sweet bungalow at 409 Donze Avenue in downtown Santa Barbara feels like a vacation throughout. I visited on a recent Sunday and was transported, yet I felt immediately at home.

It starts with the view from the street. Donze Avenue is located in the heart of town, near the intersection of Laguna and Anapamu Streets. It’s one of the rare and coveted one-block streets located in the middle of everything yet is just enough out of the way to avoid the traffic and bustle of Santa Barbara’s main thoroughfares. Standing on the street in front of the house, the view down the gently sloping lane is straight to the foothills and the purple mountains beyond, set against the bright blue sky. The scene could be the backdrop for a “Wish you were here” postcard, showing off our quintessential American Riviera vista.

Back Yard at 409 Donze Avenue
Rafael Bautista Photos

The house itself is a wood-sided bungalow, which is painted a happy turquoise color, elevated up off the street, surrounded by a low wall, and framed by palms and greenery. Set sideways on its lot, it’s actually the side of the house that first greets visitors. Up a short flight of steps on the left, a walkway leads to the cozy front porch. This layout automatically creates a sense of privacy, shielding the face of the home from the street.

The front door opens into a light, bright great room with living, dining, and kitchen areas all combined into one main living space which forms the heart of this home. One bedroom lies to the left and opens through a set of French doors directly onto the backyard. Glimpsing a swath of bright green with outbuildings beyond, I couldn’t help but explore outside before I even toured the house itself.

Patio at 409 Donze Avenue
Rafael Bautista Photos

As I stepped into the backyard, I had a sense of déjà vu. The secluded backyard, though close to its neighbors, feels completely private, like a secret garden in the middle of town. It reminded me of the first time I stepped foot in what was to become my own backyard.

This one stands apart, however, with amenities galore, including a covered patio, a hot tub, fruit trees, a putting green, an outdoor dining area, and the perfect workshop. This auxiliary workshop space is waiting to be turned into a new owner’s man cave, she shed, or whatever strikes their fancy. It currently has a massive surfboard rack mounted on one wall, which adds to the vacation vibe.

Living Area at 409 Donze Avenue
Rafael Bautista Photos

Back inside, I took a better look at the great room and saw pleasant surprises at every turn. The kitchen has beautiful granite counters and upgraded fixtures and appliances. An unexpected nook in the kitchen serves as a desk or mini-office, with an adjacent back door onto the outdoor dining patio. A breakfast bar separates the kitchen from the living area and adds additional dining or prep space.

On the far side of the house, two bedrooms share a bath in between them, while the master – which I had walked straight through upon my first sight of the backyard – has an en-suite bath. The whole home enjoys wood floors, and a couple of stylish ceiling fans serve a practical purpose as well as add to the tropical style.

Master Bedroom at 409 Donze Avenue
Rafael Bautista Photos

I had to take one more walk around the backyard. Upon a second look, I realized that I had initially been so caught up in the details that I missed its prime attraction. The gorgeous mountain views I had ogled from the street are even more magnificent when viewed from the privacy of this backyard.

Every home should feel like a sanctuary, and this house certainly does. So whether this adorable bungalow is slated to be a vacation hideaway or a respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is ready for a new owner and eager to be a welcoming haven.

409 Donze Avenue is currently for sale in Santa Barbara, listed by Erin Muslera of Compass. Reach Erin at 570-3335 or


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