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DMHA Architecture Designs Fire Resistant Homes

Mike Wilson returned to his house at dawn, hoping that he still had a home. Instead, he found flames still flickering on the last remaining embers of his Sycamore Canyon residence. Along with most of their neighbors, Mike and his wife Diana had evacuated the night before, as the Tea Fire raged to epic proportions. The Wilsons are forty-year Santa Barbara residents, and their house had narrowly escaped the Sycamore Canyon fire in the early 1970’s. This time they were not quite so lucky.




“The idea of rebuilding in a high-fire area is not a trivial thought,” says Wilson. In less understated fashion, his wife Diana recalls the experience as “a storm that wreaked havoc” with their lives. Then, the Wilsons found architect Michael Holliday, now a partner with DMHA Architecture + Interior Design, who had himself lost a house to fire. After helping the couple with their insurance claim, Holliday set to work designing the kind of house that would make sense to rebuild on the site. “Good design adds value,” says the award-winning Holliday, with an authority borne of experience.




In the Wilson’s case, that meant not only building a structure to withstand fire, but also the kind of house the couple truly wanted. The Wilsons had very clear ideas about a contemporary, minimalist aesthetic, which they affectionately referred to as a “Zen Hacienda Style.” The name stuck, and the newly-rebuilt structure is a dramatic departure from the design and construction of their prior home.

Holliday made the most of the site’s fabulous ocean and mountain views. Sunlight floods the interior living spaces from every angle through large dual-pane high efficiency windows and sliding glass doors. Natural interior finishes and materials abound, creating a style best described as “California casual.” The floor plan is both comfortable and functional, and the smooth-finished integral colored concrete floors are surprisingly beautiful.






Whereas the Wilson’s old house presented a highly flammable wood material to the exterior elements, the new design consists entirely of fireproof materials like integral color plaster, sandstone, metal fascias and cold rolled steel trellis elements. The striking metal roof design creates interesting exterior shapes, set at rakish angles, and creates spacious interior volumes that make the most of the exceptional views.




Thanks to several outdoor shaded patios and BareFoot Design’s attention to drought-tolerant, fire-resistant landscaping, the home’s indoor and outdoor spaces complement each other and flow together to create a seamless integration of interior and exterior living spaces.

The Wilsons’ home was one of eight houses presented on “ArchitecTOURS 2012,” the Santa Barbara AIA’s annual architectural tour.




DMHA Architecture + Interior Design is an award winning design firm based in the Santa Barbara area for over 25 years. The firm is currently working with innovative and progressive clients throughout the sate of California on a wide range of hospitality, commercial, retail, restaurant and residential projects.

Recent DMHA team designed projects have won a number of awards, including the 2015 Green Award from the US Green Building Council Central Coast and two 2014 Green Awards from USBGC Central Coast, 2013 Best Architecture & Design Award from National Student Housing Business Magazine, the 2012 USGBC C4 Best Overall Award and the 2011 State of California Governors Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for the LOOP Student Housing Project in Isla Vista.  The firm’s architectural offices are located within the SYNERGY Business & Technology Center, an innovative office project that the firm designed to accommodate the needs of local entrepreneurs and startup companies.

DMHA Architecture + Interior Design

805.965.7777 /

1 N. Calle Cesar Chavez, Suite 102, Santa Barbara, CA, 93103


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