Address: 325 Sherwood Drive
I’m not one of those people that’s habitually late for appointments, but I’m not usually early either. I tend to be a minute or two early, a minute or two late, or right on time. When I went to visit the house at 325 Sherwood Drive last week, I arrived uncharacteristically early. So I had an extra few minutes to relax and ponder my surroundings.
I walked up the path toward the stunning three-story contemporary home. Its facade is tall and commanding, with hints of traditional Spanish style impeccably updated with a modern twist. Its white exterior has dark wood vigas protruding geometrically from the second and third floors, reminiscent of an ancient adobe hacienda, yet thoroughly up to date.
The garage sits on the right and is a work of art itself. My walk took me through spare yet elegant landscaping on the left side of the property, with at least five different species of palm trees interspersed with native grasses in a studiedly graceful design.
Knowing that the house was empty, I walked up the stark white staircase to the front balcony and sat on the built-in bench to admire my surroundings. I was glad I had those extra minutes to do so.
Sherwood Drive is off of El Sueno Road, between the 154 and 101 highways and just below Cathedral Oaks Road, an area that was devastated 29 years ago in the Painted Cave Fire. Enough time has passed that the neighborhood has fully recovered, but one of the aftereffects is that Sherwood has homes of many different sizes and styles.
The home at 325 Sherwood has its own story to tell. The house was bought in 2017 by Santa Barbara resident and local real estate lender Larry Urzua with the dream of completely redesigning the home inside and out. He consulted on design with Realtor Aaron Gilles and the pair spent the next two years planning, permitting, building, and perfecting the design.
Buying a property, fixing it up, and reselling it is often known as flipping a house. This project was no ordinary “flip,” however, because of the scope and extent of the process, and also because of the risk involved. The vision that Larry and Aaron shared for this home would put its value above that of the neighboring houses. There was no guarantee that buyers would react favorably to any home — no matter how exquisite — in a location that had never seen a price tag like this one.
Larry’s gamble turned out to be worthwhile. The house was on the market for less than a week, receiving offers from multiple buyers within that time. Once I set foot across the threshold, it was obvious why the home received so much attention and found a new owner so quickly. Their renovation was most definitely a success.
The front door sets an elegant tone before one even glimpses the interior. The eight-foot-tall African mahogany masterpiece welcomes visitors into the main level with an understated flourish.
This impressive open space incorporates living, dining, and kitchen areas into one thoughtful layout, with a separate family room that opens onto a large back patio via retractable glass doors. This seamless indoor-outdoor flow is repeated throughout the house with ease and grace.
In the living room, a striking custom fireplace on one wall is flanked by windows all around, giving the room a natural glow both day and night. French oak flooring and details like shiplap siding are repeated throughout. The kitchen impresses with every glance: an oversized marble island, custom shaker cabinets, a white stacked tile backsplash with a statement Spanish-inspired tile design over the gourmet range, and dual sinks with gleaming brass hardware.
Both the powder room and the staircase are not-to-be-missed features on this level as well. The staircase, with architectural cable railings, leads upstairs to three bedrooms and two baths, including an enviable master suite that measures over 600 square feet.
A glass-enclosed dual-head shower, above-ground tub with a view, and two walk-in closets are just some of the noteworthy features in the master suite, plus a private deck that runs the length of the house. Not to be outdone, the other two bedrooms share a full bath and a back balcony that, while cozier, commands vast mountain and ocean views. The whole top floor feels treetop private and magnificently tranquil.
Downstairs from the main level, the first floor contains two more bedrooms and two baths plus another living room. This presents flexible opportunities for private mother-in-law or teenager quarters. While the room sizes are more modest on this level, space-saving details like a barn-door entrance to one of the bedrooms helps maximize the space. Both bedrooms open out onto a covered patio that provides both a cozy outdoor alcove and access to the beautiful green backyard.
A path leads from the yard to a lower level that offers dueling views: a panorama outward toward the ocean or a look back toward the house itself. The back of the house is arguably as handsome as its front view, with the same striking lines and aesthetically balanced angles.
I took another walk through the main level, lingering in the kitchen one last time. Even arriving 10 minutes early, the details of 325 Sherwood Drive had captivated me. As I drove away, I realized I was likely to be one or two minutes late for my next appointment.