“Above all, we wanted to complement the style of the house,” says Montecito interior designer John De Bastiani about the project featured here. “My motto is, ‘Work with the house, not against it.’ In this case, that meant traditional with a bit of an old-world feel, but not stuffy—it had to still feel current.” The clients were East Coast empty nesters who fell in love with the Montecito climate and lifestyle, and comfort was paramount. “If every room is usable and casual,” explains De Bastiani, “the house becomes easy to live in.”
Tell us a bit about the project.
The house is quite large—8,000 square feet on 12 acres, with breathtaking ocean views, a guest house, pool, and separate garage. The architect was Marc Appleton, and the original finishes are all the best, including the wonderful fireplaces and floors, the gourmet kitchen, and the stunning reclaimed beams used throughout the home.
Which part are you particularly pleased by?
I really love the living room, especially the colors. The antique rug we found was the first step in the design process; we built the room around it, and leaning into the rich colors, we used patterns and textures that complement it. We embraced color throughout, but in a muted way, so the house still feels soothing. We also acquired antiques that mixed well with new pieces.
What’s your design philosophy?
We’re designing for our clients, not ourselves, and a strong collaboration is encouraged. Also, I believe a house should be very usable, not full of “pass-by rooms” that no one ever enters. All rooms should feel so cozy, comfortable, and lived-in that they draw you in.
What advice would you give anyone thinking of hiring a designer?
If you’re doing a big project, a designer should be one of the first people you call, along with your architect, contractor, and landscape architect. Each person brings something to the table. A designer should be helping with style, layout, and interior architecture, not to mention choosing fixtures and finishes. Instead, we’re often hired at the end of construction, and we need to go back and fix issues or replace things.