Before | Credit: Courtesy
Credit: Courtesy

Santa Barbara is one of the most beautiful places in the world to live. We’ve got sun, beaches, mountains, good food, great wine, and happy people. It truly is a stunning place to call home. Now that you’ve made the decision to nestle into the American Riviera, how do you create a space that reflects this laid back, sun-soaked way of life?

Starting your house hunting journey can be daunting, especially in a place with low inventory. The good news is that you don’t have to find a perfect house to have a perfect house. We have amazing properties here in town that just need a little TLC. As older homes turn over to the next generation, it opens the door to reimagine these spaces in a more updated and contemporary way.

When buyers are in the house hunting phase, the most common thing I hear them say is, “We found a home in the perfect neighborhood. We like the layout, but we hate the way it looks.” I get it. The details are the first thing you see when you walk through a house. It’s hard to look past original 1950’s finishes, cabinets that are older than you, or a ‘90’s renovation that left the kitchen looking like a throwback sitcom.

As the buyer, it’s tough to walk into a home and envision how your things will fit in a space that doesn’t resonate with your style. My response as a designer is always: Don’t like the aesthetics? Anything can be changed.

When you see the before and after of a big reveal, it looks as though they took an eraser and wiped the slate clean, leaving a space that barely resembles its dated predecessor. The house feels this way because that is exactly what the designer did before transforming it into something their clients love. When you are out hunting for a home to call your haven, it’s important to take your mental eraser with you.

Credit: Courtesy

When I stand in a project for the first time, I take a minute to visually blur all the undesirable details. I mentally erase paint colors, trim and millwork details, lighting fixtures, and tile. I soak in the floorplan, the flow of the rooms, and how the space will function, all with the absolute confidence that we can change any detail to reflect the desired aesthetic.

How do you do this? When you arrive at the house, take a deep breath and grab your mental eraser. Walk from room to room through the house, lingering in the spaces. Take in the flow of the floorplan to see if the layout is functional for your needs. Ask yourself what style resonates in the space for you? Is it a classic Spanish Colonial, or a coastal cottage vibe? Ignore the oak cabinets in the kitchen and instead envision new cabinetry in your favorite palette with beautiful stone and coordinating fixtures. Look past the single flush mount ceiling light in the living room and picture a lighting plan that allows for perfectly moody evenings. All the dated details of the home can be transformed, turning the property into your style sanctuary.

We have some of the most amazing properties in one of the most amazing places in the world, many of which need a magic eraser and some vision. You deserve to live in a home that is as functional as it is beautiful. There is nothing better than arriving home to a space that feels perfectly you, and achieving this is often closer than you might think.

Laura Gransberry is an interior designer specializing in home renovations and restoration in the Santa Barbara area. She can be reached at, and on Instagram @lauragransberrydesign. 

Credit: Courtesy

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