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Tapping Local Talent in Custom Homebuilding

The World-Class Work of Santa Barbara Artisans

Photo: Jim Bartsch Built in the 1940s and updated a few times along the way, this classic craftsman offered a broad layout with enough square footage to hold its new owner’s extensive art and furniture collection. During its comprehensive remodel — which included replacing the original sandstone foundation — the home became a piece of art itself, featuring handcrafted detail by some of Santa Barbara’s finest cabinetmakers, iron sculptors, stonemasons, and other artisans.

Santa Barbara is filled with world-class artisans in the skilled trades ​— ​from welders and glassmakers to stonemasons and cabinetmakers, just to name a handful. Over the years, Giffin & Crane has made it a point to work with these fine craftspeople, introducing them to clients so that homebuilding designs and wish lists can evolve from idea to reality. 

Many clients possess the resources to hire highly specialized tradespeople from around the world. Sometimes they do. But more often than not, they work with Griffin & Crane to draw from Santa Barbara’s incredible pool of creative talent. Both parties benefit ​— ​artisans get to apply and hone their skills on challenging projects, and the homeowners receive a custom product that can be found nowhere else on Earth.

About 10 years ago, for instance, Giffin & Crane had the pleasure of working with a newly married couple relocating to Santa Barbara from the Midwest. They purchased a Montecito home with a classic craftsman design highlighted with hacienda stylings (pictured). The home’s roomy layout offered plenty of space for the owners’ extensive art and furniture collection, but its age ​— ​about 70 years old ​— ​was starting to show, especially on its original sandstone foundation and structural beamwork, much of which had been poorly fastened to begin with. In California’s earthquake country, that’s an issue. 

Photo: CourtesyA fine attention to detail helped make this craftsman remodel into a one-of-a-kind home.

Stabilizing the building ​— ​with engineer Thom Hume running point ​— ​was just the first round of a comprehensive remodel. Once that was complete, Griffin & Crane opened the front door to a group of Santa Barbara artisans, including but not limited to welder Gerry Endeman of Elephant Iron, cabinet maker Charlie Starbuck of Starbuck Minikin, bronze and metalworker Phil Brainard, glass artist Brian McNally, and the stonemasons of Da Ros Masonry. 

The owners ​— ​both of them art aficionados ​— ​appreciated the creative energy the team of subcontractors brought to the project’s finishing touches, and the home itself became a piece of art, thanks to details handcrafted by some of Santa Barbara’s finest craftspeople.

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