West Camino Cielo Sanctuary

Enchanting Views from Six-Acre Hideaway

Credit: Jesse Natale

Address: 5651 West Camino Cielo

Status: On the market

Price: $4,795,000

When I met the owners of 5651 West Camino Cielo, I knew immediately that I was going to like them. Sarah told me that she loved waking up to the sunrise every morning, and when her husband, Mark, shared that listening to the owls at night “makes my heart sing,” I knew they were my kind of people. 

Credit: Tom Ploch

The house is only 15 minutes from upper State Street, but it feels worlds away. Set on over six acres of dramatic boulders and meandering trails, the setting is both serene and striking, with breathtaking views over Santa Barbara of the ocean, channel, and Santa Cruz Island.

Living in Chicago, Sarah and Mark started looking for a second home in Santa Barbara in 1995. Sarah grew up in Santa Barbara and loved the view from her childhood home on the Riviera. They spent several years viewing houses throughout the area but couldn’t find exactly what they were looking for. Then, in 1999, after seeing a photo taken at sunrise from a parcel of land at 5651 West Camino Cielo, they visited the property and fell in love with its natural beauty. Situated at the end of a private road and bordered by the Los Padres National Forest, the setting ensures that its unobstructed view and privacy are assured.

It took Mark and Sarah nearly 10 years to build their home, due in part to their desire to design around the rock formations and canyons on the lot. They originally planned to build a two-story home, but to keep the profile of the house low, they instead built a one-story main house with a two-bedroom guest house situated 200 feet away, forming a mini-compound that echoes the symmetry and serenity of the environs. The two structures function as a very private family compound consisting of four bedrooms, three full baths, two separate living rooms, kitchen/dining areas, four fireplaces, two laundry rooms, a small office, and a 2½-car garage. 

They settled on a contemporary design to be most consistent with the surrounding landscape. Thirty-foot vertical walls of sandstone create a canyon just west of the main house. The canyon runs north to south, opening onto a breathtaking ocean view. The main house echoes this natural design, with thick stone walls running north to south. This layout, plus the placement of the home’s doors and windows, allows a view from the entrance on the north side through to the ocean view on the south. 

Credit: Tom Ploch

The most compelling feature of the main house is the expansive view. I challenge anyone to visit without being drawn to its mesmerizing panorama. Glass doors off the living room, dining room, and main bedroom fold completely into the walls, showing off the view and allowing true indoor/outdoor living in this completely private setting.

The kitchen has a stunning view of a different kind, overlooking a grotto at the front of the house with a waterfall and the majestic trees beyond. It features custom walnut cabinetry, granite countertops, and top-of-the-line appliances.

The striking in-ground swimming pool was the first part of the project to be constructed due to the need to be able to get large pieces of equipment to the pool site. The pool has an automatic cover which negates the need for a fence, providing an unobstructed 360-degree view from the pool area. 

The trees on the property are also magnificent: live oaks, manzanitas and toyon abound. A fruit orchard and vegetable garden sit within easy access of the kitchen, providing oranges, lemons, limes, pomegranates, plums, tangerines, apricots, kumquats, avocados, and more. Drought-tolerant accent plantings enhance the entrance to the house.

The home’s design also offers many fire protection features. The roof, windows, and doors of both houses are metal and both structures are fully fitted with sprinklers. The concrete driveway is engineered so that fire trucks can easily access the property. Two 5,000-gallon water tanks, plus an additional 27,000 gallons of water from the pool, are available if needed. 

Credit: Tom Ploch

The location of the property at the top of Highway 154, while secluded and serene, is an easy drive to Santa Barbara and Montecito, or wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley. There is even a trail from the house that offers a hike to Cold Spring Tavern.

That said, Mark and Sarah say that their favorite part of their home is the peace and quiet they experience every day. “We love to watch the sunrise in the morning, the birds feeding on the rosemary along our south patio while we are at breakfast, swimming each afternoon almost year-round, and watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean in the evening with a glass of wine to toast another perfect day,” Mark tells me. Like I said, they are my kind of people.

5651 West Camino Cielo is listed in Santa Barbara by David M. Kim of Village Properties Realtors. Reach David at (805) 296-0662 or david@villagesite.com. 


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