06 Jul Playful Luxury
If you are in need of a break from the humidity and scorching temps of middle Tennessee, you may want to book a vacation at a home owned by a couple in Nashville who fell in love and had to have it.
Keith and I were lucky enough, along with two other couples, to be invited by Sadhna and Jim Williams to stay at their one of a kind retreat in Santa Barbara this past February. Sadhna is an interior designer who with her partner, Kristen, started Alabaster and Walnut Designs to share their passion of transforming houses into homes.
I interviewed Sadhna for this tour of her vacation home. Grab a glass of wine and enjoy, as we did when we were there!
We never thought we would own a second home, but we were smitten with Santa Barbara after a generous neighbor of ours in Nashville offered up their own Santa Barbara home to us to celebrate our anniversary a couple of years ago. We were drawn to the natural beauty of the beaches and mountains, year round temperate climate, world class restaurants and vineyards, and charming architecture.
We wanted a house that was cozy for the two of us, inviting for our family of five and welcoming for a number of friends that might visit.
What was it about this house that spoke to you?
The house is nestled in a quiet canyon with sweeping vistas offering privacy yet within ten minutes of beaches, hiking trails and downtown.
When was the house built and did it already have all the tile?
The house was built in 2012 on a piece of land that was a sliver of an old family estate by a single gentleman native to Santa Barbara. In 2013 a family from Los Angeles did extensive renovations to make it a family house. They had recently traveled to Morocco and brought back gorgeous handmade tile to cover the floors and the bathrooms.
How much renovation have you done?
We acquired the house in 2015 and knew it would provide the perfect setting for indoor outdoor livability that is inherent to Santa Barbara.
We didn’t change the footprint of the house but we did add a fourth bedroom and bathroom.
We took space from a vast living area on the second floor to create the suite. It was fun to be able to design the bathroom with thick slabs of carrara marble atop a handmade oak vanity, wood framed mirrors on sliding barn door hardware to offer privacy over the large window, modern plumbing fixtures, and American made tile in a textured Moorish motif.
The suite has become a favorite because of the abundant natural light and exquisite views.
Our energies in renovation were focused on the vastly underutilized outdoor space. We wanted to capture the spirit of playful luxury that is all over Santa Barbara. Our mission was to engage all the senses throughout the garden. Old oaks were festooned with string lights and a larger than life size sculpture to create a dining patio complete with a round table that seats twelve.
We built paths to take you to all parts of the garden for peaceful retreat and for playful relaxation. A path could lead you to the spa which is surrounded by dense wood decking for lounging and another for yoga under a large oak tree and yet another to house a 10’ diameter laavu which is a Scandinavian tipi like structure perfect for sneaking away to nap.
The upstairs living area feels playful with the horse and origami on the wall. Tell us about these features!
My mantra was playful luxury as I created spaces. The art is playful in scale and mood. The previous owners left us with a life size horse from Morocco complete with antique leather saddle, handmade reins and real horseshoes. We chose art with color and much of it by local artists. There is an origami crane installation taking up an entire wall.
Where do you love to lounge the most it or is it hard to pick a spot?
It’s hard to pick a favorite spot to lounge because there are so many and depending on mood I may want something different at different times. My favorite feature of the house is being able to open up the den completely to the outdoor space. One of the first things we do is throw open all the doors and windows. Rarely does anyone have air conditioning in Santa Barbara and there are no mosquitos so it feels good to open up the house to the outdoors.
Your master is ultra luxe and dreamy and the tub alcove is incredible. What led you to the decor in the master retreat?
The architecture of the master was mostly done when we acquired the home. We added luxurious towels from Peacock Alley and Ralph Lauren and high thread count, organic cotton bedding from Boll and Branch and Peacock Alley.
The tub is carved from a single block of marble and is the crown jewel in a glass conservatory.
As a designer, where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in the natural surroundings of a space, from my travels and from details of everyday living. There is no shortage of inspiration. First and foremost I try to think of a FEELING that I want the space to evoke.
A dream project or is this it?
I really get excited about all my projects because they bring new challenges and new joys. I feel privileged to be trusted in someone’s home so I want to get to know them and figure out how to get them what they are dreaming of.
Thank you Sadhna for this tour of your dreamy retreat and the next time we come visit, can we reserve the master suite?!?