A Bit of Old Italy in Montecito, CA: Garden by Grace Design Associates

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Start with what Grace Design Associates calls a “grand old Italianate estate” in Montecito, remodel the house, and what are you left with? A place that has grand vistas, beautiful mature oaks, and a ton of historical charm — with a yard that also needs to work for a growing family: space for kids to play, secluded places to relax, and spots where friends and family can gather. What emerges from the plan is this expansive, pillared haven full of greenery and grace, but one that’s also eminently livable; it happened, as Grace attests, through “an intricate process of discovery and enhancement” that, first of all, preserved the “beautiful bones of the grand wisteria allée” (you’ll see it draping over those wonderful columns) via a quick “facelift.”

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Upgrading the pool with an outdoor kitchen and patio gave the family a genuine entertaining space, and a spot at the end of the lawn with a gorgeous old oak now holds a bocce court — not only a game the whole family can enjoy, but a real preservation of the Italian and European “feel” of the estate. Around the driveway and entry court, you’ll see “old-timey” shrubs and ivies climbing the stone pillars — both climate and era-appropriate. Last came the addition of perennial borders and herb gardens to the already-existing rose garden and orchard, which were updated with “tender loving care” to bring them back to the glory they deserved. The space now is full of pleasant surprises (see the ivy-covered grottos!) — but most of all, it’s a space that truly serves the family’s needs and purposes with style.

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