Years ago, Rob Lowe smiled at me one morning on the East Beach bike path. On a different long-ago evening, I sat near Jackson Browne eating tacos at La Super-Rica. I even know Ellen and Portia’s veterinarian. If you’ve lived in this community for any length of time, you undoubtedly have your own celebrity stories to tell. However, here on the American Riviera, we let the stars among us enjoy a low-profile lifestyle. We don’t ask them for autographs, and a smile is the only indication with which we acknowledge their greatness.
When I was invited to visit the house at 256 Santa Rosa Lane in Montecito, I knew that it had a high-profile pedigree, but I wasn’t going to let its claims to fame shake me. I can be just as cool as the next cucumber in the face of stardom.
The home was built in 1999, and designed by renowned architect Robert A.M. Stern as part of a dream home contest for Sunset Magazine. Currently, the house is again enjoying the spotlight as a finalist in the HGTV Ultimate House Hunt 2019. Through July 17, viewers can vote online at hgtv.com for their favorite houses in eight different categories.
The home at 256 Santa Rosa Lane is a finalist in the “curb appeal” category. True to form, when I visited last week, it was radiating cuteness before I even got out of my car. I parked in a motor court in front of the house and was greeted by an arched white wooden doorway cut into an ivy-covered wall, hung with a heart-shaped wreath.
The front garden features bright pink hibiscus, purple salvia, and orange desert honeysuckle, with a centerpiece of Matilija poppies looking like big fried-egg flowers floating on the breeze. Never have I seen so many of my favorite flowers jostling for attention all in one spot. Tree stumps of different heights combine with colorful grasses and shrubs for a vibrant cacophony that was hard not to love at first sight.
The house itself has a two-story wood shingle exterior and white trim. A flagstone walkway leads up to the front entrance, where four white pillars frame a lavender Dutch door under a covered front porch. On one side, a white porthole window is surrounded by a curving trellis of roses. The picturesque scene makes it overwhelmingly obvious why this house is a contender for its curb appeal.
Stepping foot inside, I noticed that the interior lives up to this charming introduction. A warm living room full of natural light, with graceful lines and a classic fireplace, leads into a dining alcove and a showstopper of a kitchen. An oversized island topped with white marble complements gray soapstone countertops and a white subway tile backsplash, all set against gleaming hardwood floors. Custom cabinetry and gourmet appliances, plus a walk-in pantry and an adjacent mudroom, complete the dreamy scene.
An en suite bedroom near the mudroom’s side entrance is ideal for a nanny or a home office, while back through the kitchen, a cozy family room provides a counterpoint to the more formal living room and leads down a short hallway to the master suite.
The master bedroom is octagonal, with windows facing almost every direction. The master bath echoes the same shape, with a huge clawfoot tub placed under picture windows. An inlaid marble floor, glass-enclosed shower, and enviable walk-in closet complete the master suite, which enjoys its own Dutch door onto the backyard.
I resisted walking out this door, however, deciding instead to walk back through the house and out the French doors from the living room. Sure enough, the grand scene laid out before me did not disappoint.
A covered terrace runs the length of the house, looking out onto an expansive green lawn and terraced gardens, including an eye-catching array of cacti, all of which is framed by the sweeping purple mountains beyond. The terrace ensures indoor-outdoor living all year long, with heaters to keep the chill away when necessary. I’m told there are over 18 different types of fruit trees on the property. A private well ensures that the veritable jungle all around the house will always be well-hydrated.
Upstairs lie four more bedrooms and two baths, plus a huge laundry room and a bonus storage or playroom. The bedrooms all enjoy gabled ceilings, built-in bookcases, and window seats. An extra small room outfitted as a reading nook is sure to be a favorite with children.
It was while admiring the view out one of the bedroom windows that I learned that the avocado trees just beyond the back cactus garden belong to Oprah. From this upstairs perch, I could even see her house peeking through the trees. I was looking at Oprah’s house. The new owners of this home will be Oprah’s next-door neighbors. This information is enough to give even the coolest among us a slight celebrity swoon.
I drove away from this home properly enamored with the home itself, as well as its obvious curb appeal. It’s definitely a contender in the HGTV contest, and I hope it wins. Either way, I’m tempted to recount the story of my celebrity-almost-sighting of the day, but of course I’m way too cool to tell a soul.
256 Santa Rosa Lane is currently for sale in Montecito, listed by Riskin Partners Estate Group of Village Properties Realtors. Reach Riskin Partners Estate Group at (805) 565-8600 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Vote in the HGTV Ultimate House Hunt 2019 online here.