Low-maintenance greenery with outdoor-dining patio. | Credit: Jim Bartsch
Front door approach with mountainous backdrop. | Credit: Jim Bartsch

When Andrea and Ron Hein first fell in love with their new home in Montecito, its allure wasn’t just clean Craftsman lines throughout a bright modern layout. They were also attracted to its potential to fulfill a gold standard of Santa Barbara’s quality of life: outdoor living. 

“To us, the exterior was just as important as the interior,” Andrea said. Project lead and Giffin & Crane cofounder Bruce Giffin introduced the Heins to Kimberly True, whose True Nature Landscape Architecture and environmental consulting firm is based in Santa Barbara.

“We told Kim that we wanted to entertain outside and just feel comfortable,” Andrea remembered. “We just sat down with her and talked through it. She really understood our vision.”

“I drew up the concept and pretty much nailed it first try,” True said with a smile. “We started with a rough pencil sketch, then worked back into all the details.” 

Working with a blank canvas — the Heins had removed the old lawn and landscaping brick and had regraded the yards to improve drainage — True took the style of the home to heart, she remembered. “There’s so much glass in the house, it made sense to create scenes outside these big windows.”

Private Zen garden outside master suite. | Credit: Jim Bartsch

Surrounded by the pittosporum hedge historic to the neighborhood, True set about setting the outdoor stage to the mountain view out back — complete with a casual dining space — plus a Japanese garden outside the master bedroom. 

All the while, she was trading ideas and photographs with Andrea to fine-tune the design as it grew from blueprint to reality, including a forward-thinking detail in making the front door easy to access as the Heins age comfortably through and beyond their golden years. 

“My favorite part of the project was that they were the co-designers,” True said. “It was really fun working with them.”

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