A Designer’s Provencal Farmhouse in Santa Barbara

by hookedonhouses on April 16, 2011

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.

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Karena April 16, 2011 at 10:14 pm

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

Sarah April 16, 2011 at 10:23 pm

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.

Ricki Jill Treleaven April 16, 2011 at 11:14 pm

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! :D

Nita@ModVintageLife.com April 16, 2011 at 11:40 pm

Love the house. Especially the outside and all the vines.

karen ho fatt@ fire pit reviews April 17, 2011 at 12:36 am

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!

Jennifer April 17, 2011 at 12:36 am

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!

Maaike Quinn @ Life with FlyLady April 17, 2011 at 2:12 am

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.

Tee April 17, 2011 at 5:07 am

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.

Susan April 17, 2011 at 6:31 am

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

Emily@remodelingthislife April 17, 2011 at 6:36 am

I love it and I love that the kitchen is “authentically cozy” and not Americanized gigantic.

handbright April 17, 2011 at 6:58 am

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

Allison Hall April 17, 2011 at 7:04 am

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….

Jane April 17, 2011 at 7:14 am

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.

Liz@VioletPosy April 17, 2011 at 7:35 am

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

'Aunt Amelia' April 17, 2011 at 8:11 am

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,

hookedonhouses April 17, 2011 at 9:19 am

It’s a deal! :-)

IAMSNWFLAKE April 17, 2011 at 8:12 am

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.

karen ho fatt April 17, 2011 at 8:41 am

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

janet April 17, 2011 at 8:42 am

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.

Pat April 17, 2011 at 8:51 am

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

Danielle April 17, 2011 at 8:53 am

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!

Patience April 17, 2011 at 10:13 am

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.

Karen April 17, 2011 at 10:44 am

The house stunning.. the old world and rustic feel.. I love it!

Toni Dunaway April 17, 2011 at 11:00 am

I think I’m in Love!

karen@family fire pits reviews April 17, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Beautiful home.She sure got the details right- her trips to France were definitely worth her time! Love the outdoor loggia and climbing vines- incredible character.

Jackie W. - Kanasas April 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm

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

delouvrier cécile April 17, 2011 at 2:34 pm

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!

Holley April 18, 2011 at 7:20 am

You could always e-mail pictures to Julia! (I hope it’s okay to volunteer you, Julia.)

hookedonhouses April 18, 2011 at 7:33 am

Absolutely! :-)

velvet and linen April 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm

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 :)


Marta April 17, 2011 at 4:48 pm

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

Lori-Anne April 17, 2011 at 6:32 pm

It’s not easy being green (with envy)!!!! I love this. I want to marry it.

ShabbyChick April 17, 2011 at 7:40 pm

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.

The Little Red Shop April 17, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Interesting gate….I’ve been wanting to make gates out of branches for my garden. Thank you for the inspiration!

: )

Julie M.

Cameron (House Sale) April 18, 2011 at 1:56 am

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.

etta April 18, 2011 at 2:46 am

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!

Hanri Shaw April 18, 2011 at 4:49 am

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!

Holley April 18, 2011 at 7:22 am

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.

Etcetorize April 18, 2011 at 10:09 am

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.

Erin @ epiCURIOUS ERIN April 18, 2011 at 11:45 am

I just LOVE the yard. I’m a sucker for turquoise furniture!

Kim April 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm

What a gorgeous farm house! I love the rustic feel of it.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy... April 19, 2011 at 5:48 pm

The decor is not my deal but the house and exterior are downright dreamy!

Chantelle April 25, 2011 at 2:04 am

I would LOVE to live there! *sigh

Grand D July 17, 2011 at 9:54 pm

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

Radisha October 30, 2011 at 3:36 pm

The Most Excellent

Mochelle November 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm

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.

Voluptuous Vegan November 30, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Your home looks like a slice of heaven! I wish I was there right now.

Penelope Bianchi February 25, 2013 at 4:33 am

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!!


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