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Allen Construction Gaviota Historic Renovation

The owners wanted to update their home, one of the last designed by renowned architect Lutah Maria Riggs, without changing its overall feeling. Interior designer Deborah Campbell worked closely with the owner and the Allen Construction team to modernize the kitchen and baths and freshen finishes throughout, with minimal changes to the exterior and floor plan.




Lutah Maria Riggs was the first licensed female architect in Santa Barbara and the first California woman named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Known for her Spanish Revival designs and, in later years, more contemporary projects, Riggs was made partner in the firm of noted Spanish Revival architect George Washington Smith in 1924. In 1931, she started her own firm and worked throughout the Southern California region until her death.

Riggs contributed significantly to the designs of many of Santa Barbara’s most well-known buildings. The clients inherited the home from their parents, who built the home in 1980. The fact that it was designed by Lutah Maria Riggs makes this both a locally significant and historic home.




“The home has a very special, nostalgic hold on the client,” states interior designer Deborah Campbell, who worked closely with the owner and the Allen Construction team on custom design elements including light fixtures and imported hand painted tiles. “Many of the furnishings in the house were custom built by her family, which we restored and used throughout the house, adding a few new pieces where needed.”

Key Spanish Revival elements were preserved and, in fact, enhanced. Windows, destroyed by moisture damage and dry rot, were replaced and the exterior re-plastered. With the house located on the top of a knoll, it was susceptible to the effects of wind and rain from all directions. As a result, when exterior walls were opened to install new windows to match the originals specified by Lutah Maria Riggs, significant and unexpected dry rot issues were discovered. This, along with the need to replace the original, poorly installed electrical system, caused the scope of the project to grow significantly.




The small, dark kitchen and dining rooms were opened into one large room, taking advantage of ocean and mountain views, and the kitchen ceiling was raised to 10 ft. Old carpeting was replaced with new walnut wood floors made from wood harvested from the owners’ childhood home in Ohio.






Two products were selected to provide a finished look to augment Lutah Maria Riggs’ original design – handmade tiles from Mexico and custom-made, engineered hardwood floors made out of previously milled walnut from their childhood property.




An important goal for Allen Construction during the renovation was to make the home durable and rebuilt to last for decades to come. With ongoing support from the homeowner, the end result is a project that is both timeless and updated with modern day conveniences.


SB Headquarters
201 N. Milpas Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93103  805.884.8777
Ventura Office
963 East Main Street, Ventura, CA 93001   805.641.0839
Santa Ynez Office
3640 Sagunto St. Unit 202, Santa Ynez, CA 93460  805.688.0777
LA/Malibu Office
24955 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265  310.755.6879





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