Make Myself at Home: Vintage Victorian Gets New Life

Take a Look Inside 1116 Garden Street

Courtesy Photo

If I have to choose between vintage and modern, the old-fashioned charmer is going to be my pick every time. Whether we're talking handbags or habitation, I love a period piece that has some stories to tell. Even the quirks that often accompany a well-worn favorite — whether it’s the reluctant clasp on a beaded clutch or the cranky furnace in my Craftsman cottage — come with the territory and add to the charm.

That’s one of the reasons why the beautifully renovated Victorian duplex at 1116 Garden Street surprised me. I fell in love with its new elements as much as its Old World charm. Built in 1888, this home has been painstakingly restored from top to bottom. It was taken all the way down to the studs and brought back even better than ever.

The bells from the nearby church chimed the quarter-hour as I walked up the curving front walkway of this home last week. Their gentle tones provide subtle but consistent background music for this vibrant downtown neighborhood. On the façade of the house, tall, multipaned period windows on both the first and second floors vie for attention with the bold detailing on the front eaves and the angles of the roofline. The brightly colored stained-glass window in the front door is a showstopper. Clear glass in the middle is surrounded by yellow glass squares on the sides with multicolored panes on the top and bottom, providing a bright, cheerful welcome to this home.

The front porch runs the length of the house, and I paused to enjoy the vantage point from its sturdy, covered shelter. It turns out that this porch is one of the elements that was resuscitated in the renovation. A previous owner had enclosed the porch to make an additional interior room. When the current owners started their demolition work, they were delighted to find that all of the original architectural details had been left intact and had been covered over. The posts, corbels, and finials were all underneath, waiting to be brought back to life.

The front door leads into the three-bedroom, 1½-bath downstairs unit of what is now a legal duplex. A huge, open, front great room combines living and dining space and is open to the gourmet kitchen. It retains its turn-of-the-century charm, with vintage moldings, nine-foot-high ceilings, and the awesome period windows. Its modern upgrades are too numerous to mention, but they include such efficiencies as an all new electrical system, copper plumbing, forced air heating, floors, a roof, a concrete foundation, and seismic upgrades to current standards for new buildings. Luxurious new amenities include Carrera marble floors and quartz stone countertops in the bathrooms, with soft-close hardware on the custom cabinetry throughout. Conveniences such as oversized showers and custom kitchen pantries will make the day-to-day difference in the lives of this home’s lucky new owners.

In addition to the indoor living space, the downstairs also offers a large deck off the living room for year-round outdoor dining, plus both front and back covered porches. I learned that as part of the permitting process for the remodel, the city required outside living space beyond that which the house originally offered. As a result, this outdoor dining room was created, as well as a huge mountain-view deck in the second unit upstairs.

The upstairs is a completely separate, rentable, one-bedroom, one-bath unit. A staircase leads up from the back of the first floor to the deck, offering views of the Riviera and the mountains; plus, you can see the church as well as hear its chiming bells. This spacious deck is one of the most magical parts of the property, and it didn’t exist at all before the renovation. The inside of the upstairs unit is also charming. The kitchen and living areas are combined in one big room, with French doors leading onto the deck. The bedroom has beautiful Courthouse views, and even the bathroom offers an enchanting floor-level original window in a great use of space.

Throughout the entire residence, the windows are perhaps the best example of the blend of old and new. The downstairs bedrooms, which aren’t visible from the street, received new double-paned windows to keep heat in and noise out. But all of the original windows were painstakingly taken apart, stripped, and re-roped. They now open smoothly, latch tightly, and still show off their truly unique vintage charm.

So please don’t ask me to choose my favorite part of 1116 Garden Street. It might be the colorful front-door window that has welcomed visitors to the house since 1888. But it also might be the spacious upstairs back deck, the beautiful kitchen-tile backsplash, or one of the many other new features. Fortunately, I don't have to choose between the old and new — and neither will the lucky new owners of this great house that has it all.

1116 Garden Street is for sale in Santa Barbara, listed by Kathy Strand Spieler of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. Reach Kathy at (805) 895-6326 or kathyspieler@gmail.com.

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