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Ann James Updates Carpinteria Beach Cottage

This beachfront property, originally owned by Robert Louis Stevenson,  is a true family compound, reminiscent of properties on the East Coast. The family bought the property in the 40’s as a weekend escape from Pacific Palisades with their nine children. Interior Designer Ann James brilliantly blends Victorian-style architectural elements with updated interiors for one of the cottages on the estate.




The family originally moved into a large barn close to the water and created an upstairs dormitory for the children. The matriarch still lives in the house, surrounded by Robert Louis Stevenson memorabilia. In the ’50’s, they purchased a Victorian-style cottage in downtown Santa Barbara for $100.00 and had it moved to the property. This is now the home of one of the sons, who hired interior designer Ann James to oversee design and remodeling projects for the home.




“I’ve been working on the home for over 12 years, including a remodel on the house, which involved staying within the footprint, but raising the whole structure 4 feet to allow for a better view of the ocean,” James explains.  “We originally started with a fairly sophisticated scheme and recently, my client decided that he wanted to have a more beachy, informal look.”






“Once we decided on a blue and white theme, everything fell into place, from vintage pillows to durable blue denim that withstands wear and tear from the three dogs, who also consider this their home, ” James comments.




The art is diverse, from a portrait of the client’s grandmother over the living room fireplace, to works by a favorite Hawaiian artist and many local artists, including Fred Gowland and Tani Conrad.





The gardens that surround the cottage were originally designed by Santa Barbara landscape designer Eric Nagelmann and reflect the owner’s deep love of Hawaii.




A stroll through the tropical, plant-filled garden reveals Koi ponds, fountains, and a bird aviary and chicken coop.


aj backyard



The family compound’s back lawn extends to the beachfront. Lush plantings surround the home and the gazebo tucked away in a corner provides a restful setting for ocean viewing.






“My client allows me a great deal of freedom and the ultimate result is that the house totally reflects who he is,” Ann James comments. “This house and surrounding gardens are a refuge for him and a haven for his many friends. That end result is of paramount importance to me.”


A N N   J A M E S   I N T E R I O R S


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