The Great Room | Credit: David Palermo

Address: 5396 East Camino Cielo

Status: On the market

Price: $2,495,000

A spiritual aura infuses the property at 5396 East Camino Cielo both inside and out. As I admired the myriad details in each room and meandered down the paths from one part of the property to the next, I knew I shouldn’t try to capture the particulars, because — while the details are incredible — the magic of this extraordinary place is in the sum of its parts.

Its history is resplendent in the stories told by area locals throughout the years and documented in photographs that hint at its colorful past. It has a beautifully curated present, obvious as its current owner answered my questions about the craftsmanship evident throughout. But its future is the most intriguing component of the story of 5396 East Camino Cielo, once known as The Cielo Store.

The Cielo Store | Credit: Courtesy

I drove up on a recent misty afternoon: twelve minutes from my doorstep downtown to the welcoming Cielo Store & Cafe sign and wood-shingled water tower that greeted me as I pulled just off the 154 at the top of the mountain. The clouds lifted and I knew I was someplace special.

Walking down a flagstone pathway and through a romantic, trellis-covered seating area, the low-lying main building is an understated backdrop to what lies within and around it. The front door opens into a room that was the actual store in the home’s past life, serving the neighborhood as café, bar, convenience store, and gas station all rolled into one. In its current form, the room is both a welcoming entryway and the kitchen, with hand-hewn custom cabinetry built around a jaw-dropping La Cornue range. A spiral staircase in one corner leads up to a loft, and points to the original store’s sign, lovingly rescued and showcased front and center; poised above the doorway that leads into the heart of the home. 

The bar | Credit: David Palermo

I stepped into a long great room that’s naturally divided into distinct areas that each serve their own purpose. An original bar runs the length of one wall, with dining, living, office, and other functions all peacefully co-existing in this warm space. 

The bedrooms lie just beyond and carry a similar style with natural-wood-beamed ceilings and hand-carved shelving. The primary suite can be closed off into a world of its own, with double French doors that open onto the magical back grounds.

The other half of the house is the showstopper that opens innumerable possibilities for future uses. A 1000 square foot studio could be utilized as a secluded retreat or event center; a sprawling art studio; a fitness, classroom, or garden center; a full photography or sound studio; or infinite other countless applications. The setting is ripe for creativity and serenity. 

Outside, a cluster of tiny-house-sized buildings are scattered under the limbs of a magnificent oak tree. One of these cottages is my favorite spot on the entire property: a redwood bath house outfitted with a quintessential iron claw foot tub, just begging to be soaked in at sunrise. 

Kitchen | Credit: David Palermo

The private acre also includes a meditation room, an outdoor shower, full outdoor kitchen, spa, and much more. The thoughtfully cultivated grounds maintain their natural appeal with a selection of mature fruit trees and a commitment to the ecosystem, offering an organic, sustainable lifestyle.

Over the past 20 years, the home’s current owner has lovingly shaped every inch of the property, both inside and out. The zoning allows for creativity in both residential and commercial uses, while the history of the property itself offers a unique opportunity to further a legacy in this mountain-side community mere minutes from the center of Santa Barbara. This magical space will build upon its storied past and carry its next lucky owner into a future just waiting to be imagined. 

5396 East Camino Cielo is currently for sale in Santa Barbara, listed by Steve of The Epstein Partners of Keller Williams Realty. Reach Steve at 805-689-9339 or 

Living room | Credit: David Palermo


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