Color me Santa Barbara!

Last week I spent 6 days in glorious Santa Barbara, dazzled by the sunshine and the riotous beauty of the vineyards, Bougainvillea and sea. And then there was the beautiful house and garden of my friends Mimi & Mark to enjoy….not to mention my own personal guesthouse), so for two days Mimi and I just basically wallowed in fun. But after 48 hours doused in the lushness of outdoor Santa Barbara, the house’s white walls were literally aching for color (in my humble opinion) so we proceeded to spend the next four days in an obsessive-compulsive search for the perfect hue for each room.

Our gorgeous palette!

Choosing paint colors is just about my favorite thing ever … especially with a new color convert like Mimi. She can put together the most sophisticated garden plan in no time flat, and assemble wardrobe outfits like a pro (which, in fact, she is) but when it comes to color on her walls, Mimi’s a true Mission purist and inevitably opts for white, cream and ivory (wake me when it’s over).

Okay, I'm inspired ...

Whereas once I slapped the first coat of ochre on my walls back in 1992, I was hooked on color and have never looked back. So… Mimi and I had to tentatively negotiate our plunge into a walk on the saturated side.

Hey. let's try 'em all!

Four days, 70 trips to Home Depot (that has stopped carrying Ralph Lauren paints–the best colors in the world – Why? Why???), countless mini-brushes, 16 coats of paints, and about a dozen trial colors later, we had 5 rooms Mimi loved, a bathroom she hated, the real painters on their way, her darling and remarkably laid-back Mark due home in three days – surprise!!! – and we were both exhausted, paint-drunk and color -blinded.

Why can't we match that color rojo??

All in all, it was another perfect week of service – although unlike my week in Guatemala, this one featured excellent Pinot Noir, supremely high-thread count sheets, and the vastly entertaining company of Mimi. Along the way to near-perfect color satisfaction, we two born workhorses laughed our way through soggy brushes, gallons of Kilz, paint-flecked nails and filthy knees… and here’s where we landed:


Living Room: Martha Stewart’s Precious Metals “Kiwi Peel” (currently being re-negotiated)

Dining Room: Grenada Red

Downstairs Hallway: Ora de Maya

Guest Bedroom: Atmospheric Blue (was Sueno)


Downstairs Bath: Grenada Red (and tile)

Upstairs Bath: Tried four different shades of green, now cream

Upstairs Hallway: Was Cenola Brown, now being re-negotiated

Upstairs Study: Nairobi Dusk

Ktichen: TBD … after it’s renovated/ Guest House:  Next visit!

This week I’m in Denver working freelance and giving a talk to the AWARE (Alzheimers’ Foundation) here – see my post on December 31—  and then I go home for good (or at least for awhile). Happy Spring!

8 thoughts on “Color me Santa Barbara!

  1. Right up my ally, Betty. Choosing colors is stressful enough, let alone strong color…let alone for someone else! You are brave in so many ways!

  2. What a joyful “job” – picking paint colors for an entire fabulous house. It reminds me of my non-color friend’s response when discussing the color of my to-be-remodeled bathroom, “Buy towels.” she said and pointed to pale beige on the color chart. Huh? I love that red!


  3. I’m with you that Santa Barbara’s a beautiful place, and that one needs color on the walls, and I love the new dining room color – it makes the room so much warmer 🙂

    So what did Mark “due home in three days” think of the *SURPRISE!!!*

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