An Interior Designer’s Guide to Santa Barbara

March 3, 2022

Santa Barbara is back! You can feel it in the air. People are taking to the streets to safely enjoy all that our beautiful home has to offer – including the food. I’m itching to make it back to some of my favorite local spots; and, sure, Santa Barbara is known for its delicious dining, but in true R+R fashion, I’m all about the interiors when it comes to a dining experience.

Bettina

“The American Riviera.” Santa Barbara gets its nickname from the Mediterranean influence that’s melting all over this city, and who brings it to life better other than Montecito pizza joint Bettina.

Bettina prides itself on delicately-sourced and culturally-inspired cuisine, which is wonderfully reflected in the design of their Coast Village location. LA group Bestor Architecture brought the space to life in 2019; their modern spin on mid-century design leaves you feeling inspired and invited as soon as you enter the door.

There’s a certain playfulness felt throughout the space, with a combo of hardwood, leather, and metal fixtures. The open-kitchen concept helps achieve their mission to cultivate community through hospitality; the design at Bettina is certainly something to see, but their pizza is something to behold.

Loquita

Local tapas restaurant Loquita, located right off State and Yanonali in the heart of the Funk Zone, is another one of my go-to’s. The name Loquita calls to a Spanish term for a wild, fun-loving young girl, a playful homage to the Spanish influence in Santa Barbara. You’ll feel exactly that, plus more, as you step into this Spanish-inspired spot. 

The space, created by Doug Washington Design, also features an open kitchen, bringing the dining experience a more intimate feel. Doug’s aesthetic also includes sharp lines and a mixture of light and dark wood, but don’t be mistaken: the clean, modern space doesn’t take away from the romance of it all. If you’re able to make a reservation, you won’t want to miss out on a romantic and exciting evening at their downtown location.

Palihouse

Imagine Grandma-farmhouse-chic, but better. Palihouse hotel and dining room will have you ooh-ing and ahh-ing at their exquisite take on boutique hotel-ing. Designed by their in-house team, the space “calls on European hospitality with a California point of view.” As you breeze through their lobby, cafe, and patio, you’ll be sucked into their wonderfully-whimsical atmosphere.

Part of their mission is to cultivate a one-of-a-kind experience through interesting places and people, and boy: mission accomplished. As you linger in their hotel bar, you’ll find a combination of delicious drinks and unique seating options, all in the shadow of bright, floral curtain panels. I can’t get enough of it!


Slow Down & Stay a While

From its beaches to its people, this town has so much to offer. As you stroll around the neighborhoods in Santa Barbara, don’t forget to remain curious about your surroundings. Keeping your eyes open is a huge part of the process. We live in a culture of busyness, and if we obsess over how much we’re doing versus how we’re doing it, we’ll miss out on so many joys and complexities that life has to offer.

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