A Designer’s Provencal Farmhouse in Santa Barbara

Designer Penelope Bianchi has listed her “Provençal farmhouse” in Santa Barbara for $5.95 million. When I stumbled across it in the real estate listings, I knew it looked familiar. After a little sleuthing, I figured out it it was Bianchi’s, which was featured in the September 2010 issue of House Beautiful.

It’s only about 15 years old but looks like it’s been around for generations. The house had me at the rustic wood gate:

Bianchi told HB in the article about her house: “We bought the land and decided to build a rustic Provençal farm — everything about the site felt like Provence to me. Then we went to the real Provence to get inspired.”

“I probably took 200 photographs of doorknobs, chimneys, doorways, rooftops, shutters, and slipcovers,” she says. “In all the small hotels where we stayed, I kept asking about all the incredible walls and learned about lime-washing.”

The kitchen looks authentically cozy:

The title of the HB article was “Patina.” In it, Bianchi says patina is what moves her most:

“I’m crazy for antique toile. The one on our bed is an 18th-century toile that shows George Washington and two cheetahs being led to the Temple of Fame. It cost $140 and it’s the best thing I ever found on eBay. A professor friend is horrified that I keep it on my bed. He thinks it should be in a museum.”

The bedroom sitting area has a fireplace, with drawings by Marcel Vertes on the walls and caned armchairs from Brenda Antin.

The bathroom features a zinc-lined copper tub dating from the 1860s:

There’s a romantic spot for dining on the pea-gravel terrace:

The Loggia is an enchanting space for indoor-outdoor living. She told HB, “That’s where I am 90 percent of the time, on that little sofa reading or at the stone table, where we have breakfast and lunch.” There’s radiant heating under the Mexican tile pavers.

The vines that climb all over the house and inside the loggia are Virginia creeper.

Bianchi explains, “It comes in pots on sticks — I bought 200. If you take the vine off the stick and Scotch-tape it to the wall, it will cover the house eight times faster. People think vines hurt the stucco, but deciduous vines do not. This one is always turning colors, and in winter, it’s just tracery with no leaves. Right now, I’m trying to train it to come inside the house.”

I wonder if the new owners would let me move into the charming guest house? I wouldn’t be any trouble…

You can read the interview with Penelope Bianchi in House Beautiful. When I was researching this house I found a lovely post about on Velvet & Linen, and you can see many more photos there (I used a couple of them). For more info: Montecito Farmhouse.

On Sundays I Feature Interesting Properties For Sale:

I have a thing for old stone houses, so when I saw this one for sale in New Hope, Pennsylvania, my heart skipped a beat.…
On Sunday afternoons I like to search the real estate listings, and the ones in Montecito and Santa Barbara, California, always have some amazing homes…

See More


  1. says

    Julia I am very familiar with Rancho Santa Fe and an amazed at the stunning, authentic properties found there! Adore!

    Come and enter my fashionable giveaway from The French Basketeer!

    Art by Karena

  2. says

    That house is TO DIE FOR! Just the exterior makes my heart go pitter pat. I may be moving into the guest house with you:) Hope you don’t mind.

  3. says

    I also read the September issue of House Beautiful, and I also enjoyed Brooke’s tour of the home. I would love to live in a house like that but on a much smaller scale. Thanks for posting about the listing, Julia! 😀

  4. says

    Wow, her trips to Provence sure paid off as it looks very authentically French. Love the loggia and all the crawling vines and plants. I imagine this home on a movie set, set designers would not have been able to do a better job!

  5. Jennifer says

    I’ve always enjoyed Penelope’s posts on Decorno and all of the love/hate comments that followed. I think she is Amazing! Brooke Giannetti at Velvet & Linen had a great post, “An Evening With Penelope Bianchi & Lars Bolander” that was well worth the read. Thanks for the post…I envy the new owners!

  6. says

    Wow, this house is sooo cluttered! It would drive me crazy in no time. That being said, I do like the pea-gravel terrace with that gorgeous dining table. The outside of the house itself is stunning too.

  7. says

    I love the outside of it, and the long table in the garden.. other than that I am not so crazy about it.. I think it’s too much, too decorated… the house itself gets lost in decor and nicknacks.

  8. says

    I could live in this house–oh wait a minute, I don’t have the $5.95 million. It really is seriously gorgeous!

  9. handbright says

    Oh, oh oh oh oh… This house is so wonderful its enough to persuade me to play the lottery- thank you!

  10. says

    Ooooh, now this is my kind of house….Even looks like mine with all the antiques and clutter only mine has a bit more…Lol…I love the four red chairs that surround the small table in front of the fireplace….

  11. Jane says

    That house is only 15 years old? They did an amazing job of aging it. The exterior looks truly ancient. I love that red kitchen cupboard and that they used a ring of chairs instead of a davenport in front of the fireplace. Most of the decor is too fussy for my taste but it does fit the architecture. It would be a nice place to visit.

  12. says

    Sorry not to have commented of late life has been getting in the way, but I’ve been reading faithfully on GReader. Wow, what a gorgeous home – just amazing xx

  13. says

    Oh that loggia!

    I’ll make you a deal! You move into the guest house for one month, and I for the next month. And over and over! -giggles-

    Gentle hugs,

  14. says

    It’s adorable. They really managed to get the real look of Provence. If I hadn’t been told this house is in USA, I’d been fooled.

  15. says

    Absolutely lovely. She really captured that French feeling. Her research truly paid off for her. Love the loggia and porch areas outside especially!

  16. says

    Location location location. It’s in a beautiful place, the grounds and exteriors are wonderful, but the interior of this house is messy and haphazard., not for me.

  17. says

    I love this house! I would need to take away a large amount of furnishings to keep my sanity, but the house is amazing!!!

  18. says

    The decor is a little to fussy for my taste but the house itself is beautiful. I love the copper tub though.

    Also, Santa Barbara. Yes, please!

  19. says

    I like the blue paint she chose for the living room doors and the kitchen cabinets. Love the copper tub and the tiled shower, the outdoor dining table and the loggia with vines. The exterior is fabulous too. Not so crazy about the dining room and the bedroom.

  20. Jackie W. - Kanasas says

    Not sure I would want the vine/branches IN the house.

  21. delouvrier cécile says

    Hi everyone! I’m from Provence myself so I have to tell you about that house and maybe ruin the dream! That house is beautiful-especially the outside- but reminds me more about Tuscan country houses than a real “mas” from Provence. As for the inside, it’s a bit too much even if most of the furniture is beautiful, expensive and real antiques; but it’s an idea of Louis XIV meeting La Provence. Plus there are a lot of combinations of french and american in the assembling of everything. It’s very difficult to explain cause I don’t know the exact translation of the words I should use. I wish I’m an expert in computers so I could send you pictures of really amazing houses around me. Bye bye!

  22. says

    Penny has created something truly amazing! I felt at home the minute I walked up her gravel driveway. I know once she leaves this house she will be onto another wonderful project. I can’t wait to see what is next.
    Thank you so much for the mention, Julia :)


  23. says

    Julia, I adore it. The outdoor spaces are heavenly esp the outdoor dining area. Sadly I wasnt excited about the kitchen – but the bathtub made up for it. Just a lovely country estate. thanks, m

  24. ShabbyChick says

    Julia, Julia, Julia…very few houses leave me speechless with awe. Not only do I love everything about the house, but the fact that it’s in Santa Barbara??? Instant love coma.

  25. says

    Someone please lend me $5.95 million so I could buy this and live here asap. This house really is a good one. I’m kind of scared with the vines all over the place but if Bianchi designed it to wiggle through the whole house then I’m up for it. Besides, I think that if the vines are gone then it wouldn’t be a rustic setting.

  26. says

    I really love this house!! The interiors are beautiful but the exterior is STUNNIG… Il love the way it look like “vecchio borgo”…
    Happy monday my dear!

  27. says

    Oh my, that Loggia is amazing. It reminds me of the film ‘What Dreams May come’, one of my favourite films and I have longed since dreamed about having a house like that. Now that I’ve found it I just need to find 5.95 million. It might have to just stay in my dreams.
    PS: LOVE love love your blog!

  28. says

    I love the exterior, the kitchen and the loggia. With my two kids, I’d be worried about the safety of everything else!

    Truly lovely though.

  29. says

    Wow, I am in love with this house. The way that she uses textiles is amazing. I love the look of fabric in doorways and unexpected places. I don’t know how anyone could stand to sell this home, it’s a treasure. If only I had an extra $6 million.

  30. Grand D says

    Love the house – but I would take half of the cutter out – takes away from its beauty.

  31. Mochelle says

    I don’t blame her for not selling. Who would want to sell heaven on earth?
    If she feels she needs a change why doesn’t she just edit some things that she may be tired of and change out for something else? Maybe clear out a few, not all of the vines? I would never sell this place, It is what so many of us long for.

  32. says

    Oh! What a delightful find! Thank you again and again!

    How lucky I am that when it was on the market; it did not sell! It was a case of “temporary insanity”!!

    What a lovely compliment! Thank you soooo much!!