Friday, September 6, 2013

How can 227 year old Mission Santa Barbara inspire interior design today?

In  posts about Whitehall, The Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, I wrote about the Gilded Age and how that might influence today's interiors.  On my recent trip to California I toured the incredible Mission Santa Barbara in the town of Santa Barbara.
I realized that it too can provide great inspiration for home decorating in today's world too.
This beautiful structure is rich in history, art and architecture. The mission is a mingling of Hispanic, Roman, Grecian and Moorish design.

The architecture of Colonial Mexico had a great influence over the style of homes and buildings in California and continues to this day.

A vintage California home across the lawn from Mission Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara City Hall
The mission was established as part of an effort of New Spain (Mexico) to occupy and conquer California. It was undertaken  jointly by the State and the Church.  Mission Santa Barbara was one of  of twelve built in California.  It's purpose was to Christianize  and civilize the  Native American population who lived there.  It was founded in December 1786.

The walkway around the courtyard is covered to shield from sun and rain.

assorted Mexican  patio items
I am struck at how similar this porch looks  like the passage way above at the mission.

The mission became the center of Christian Indian life serving the needs of all who lived nearby. It was a complete village assuming the economic, social and cultural burdens of mission life.  Over the years it has has been a home for Franciscan friars, a seminary, a school, church,  and a center for spiritual renewal.

Sketches show the various stages of construction over the early years.
I was captivated by the history of this mission. The art and architecture were beautiful.  I wondered how we could ulitilize these elements in our own home decorating today.

Interior view of a window in the church.
One thing that stood out were the thick walls. The construction was incredible. The mission suffered damage from two earthquakes but it was not destroyed. I can see why.

Here is the same window! The first thing that stood out was the shape of the window. Can you see how this shape and the one of the doorway below could be used in designing a cornice for a window or a headboard on a bed? What do you think? What about painting a pattern around a door, window or even as a headboard painted on the wall?

Young House Love - The Story Of Two Young People Falling In Love With Their Firs eclectic bedroom

red interiors eclectic bedroom

Presidio Heights apartment traditional bedroom

Eclectic + Romantic Bedrooms eclectic bedroom
What a creative idea and so cost effective!

Mediterranean Architecture rustic family room
This is the perfect example of a painted design around a doorway and on a wall being used in the decorating a home today.

The alter in the church was surprisingly decorative and formal. It was even more beautiful in person.  This reminded me that a home is a personal sanctuary and could also have a private sacred place to spend quiet time.

Al Fresco Dining mediterranean patio
What a beautiful outdoor scene at the Pasadena CA showcase house.  It  reminds me of the inside of the mission church.

Interior asian living room
People today are finding ways to incorporate a space in their home for meditation and yoga.

Meditation room modern media room
This could be in the corner of a living room or bedroom.

Global Living / Bluefish Home - Showroom transitional living room
Is there a corner of you home you where you would like to create a sacred space?

The ceiling in a passageway is painted in rich colors made from natural pigments.  A pattern such as this could be reproduced in fabric or wallpaper.

  I have seen similar desgns painted on the ceiling of a breakfast room, porch and foyer.
Showhouse Butlers Pantry traditional kitchen
Bathroom eclectic bathroom
Italian Style in Newport Coast, California traditional dining room
Wine Lounge mediterranean living room
These ceilings are true reminders that a ceiling is another surface that can  be incorporated into your decorating plan.  They can be handpainted, stenciled, trimmed with molding or as this lounge shows, it can be a stunning work of art!
Hand carved decorations were used in many areas of the mission.  Just the shape and color of this inspires me to create a  medallion to hang drapery panels.

Drapery photos client installation, Picture Pretty Interiors
 A pattern like this star could be used in multiples to form larger patterns or borders.  An old painted wood carving like this is wonderful all by itself on a shelf  or hanging on a wall.

Carson Poetzl, Inc. rustic patio

A replica of the typical kitchen found at the mission.
While this might not inspire a kitchen in a home today, there is opportunity for inspiration.  I love the idea of a cooktop recessed into a wall of stone.  I have even seen examples of this recently.

Mediterranean Kitchen rustic kitchen

Vintage Kitchen traditional kitchen
Kitchens pictured above courtesy of

I also love the whole color scheme of worn muted colors. The textures I see in this picture would give so much character in today's home decorating.  
Now we use stained concrete for not only floors but countertops in our kitchen.  It is beautiful when used appropriately. 

Riverside Basement Renovation contemporary basement

Cat Mountain Residence modern media room
This interior with it's concrete floor has a bit of a Spanish mission feel, don't you think?
Images of concrete floors courtesy of
Concrete counter tops are a great solution for a contemporary kitchen.

Brown Concrete Countertop
Concrete counters are perfect for outdoor kitchens!

Blue House rustic kitchen
I  see a definite nod toward a Santa Barbara Mission style here.

A monk's shoe....platform shoes are not a new style after all!
Valley View remodel eclectic bathroomThe color palette and texture of the painted walls is so lovely.  It could be translated to furniture, floors, fabrics, as well as walls and ceilings.

Mountain Living traditional kitchen

Bar next to media room rustic media room

The massive front doors to the church at the mission.
Isn't this a beautiful color scheme? I love muted blue mixed with a bit of aqua, surrounded by taupe and bone white.  These doors are beaufiful too.

Bestumveien traditional living room

 Living Room Chic contemporary living room

 Here in Florida our architecture is so similar in many ways. It was influenced by the designs of Spain as well.

This is The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach Florida.  It was coincidentally built by Henry Flagler.

Did you enjoy this Queen of the Missions?  Southwestern design was popular in the l980's but in a more contemporary way.  This classic Southwest style when used with  rich color and texture along with the authentic designs of  handcrafted materials will never go out of style.
Southwestern Landscape mediterranean landscape
 Private residence contemporary living room
What do you think of the Southwestern style? Can you see how it could be used in either large or small doses to give character to your own home?
 (Much thanks again to for most of the images used in today's post.  My appologies also for the inconsistency in the sizes of the photos. There seems to be a formatting glitch in my blog site.)
I would love to hear from you and as always I invite you to share your ideas in the comment box below.  You can also email any questions to me at


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