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Santa Barbara Friends and Estates

James Andrew - Casa del Herrero

James Andrew – Casa del Herrero

Yet another stellar suggestion by our dear friend Philip Bewley: Casa del Herrero – definitely a must see when one is in the Santa Barbara/Montecito area. It’s the legendary estate that once belonged to George Fox Steedman, and it happily remains very much intact. Considered one of the finest examples of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture in America, it is the result of a marvelous collaboration between Steedman and Santa Barbara architect, George Washington Smith.

Casa del Herrero

Casa del Herrero

Like Hearst and Morgan at Hearst Castle, Steedman and Smith incorporated many architectural fragments into their Casa del Herrero design—in fact, Steedman actually purchased many of said fragments from the same dealers that Hearst utilized. Certainly it was a labor of love and there is a real sense of Steedman’s passion and personal touch throughout this gracious Montecito estate. Do visit if you can.

Following our Casa del Herrero tour, the lovely Penelope Bianchi and Hollye Jacobs treated McBee and me to the most gorgeous luncheon at The Coral Casino, a super-chic private beach and pool club on Butterfly Beach, recently refurbished by Peter Marino. You’ll know Bianchi from her interior work and blog at Penelope Bianchi, McCormick Interiors and Jacobs, as author of The Silver Pen. We were also joined by friends, La Comtesse Lola and Brooke Giannetti (author of the Velvet & Linen blog) – as you might imagine, we had a pretty stimulationg conversation regarding interior design, design related blogs, and all things beautiful.

Penelope Bianchi and James Andrew

Penelope Bianchi and James Andrew

After our lovely luncheon, we headed to Bianchi’s home for a tour—I’ve seen images of Bianchi’s home on many occasions, but nothing could have prepared me for the actuality! Bianchi’s exquisite eye and a goodly amount of bravura make her home and glorious gardens the most perfect paradise…and all is enlivened by a delightful collection of beasts—from rescue corgi-mixes and cats, to ducks and Belgian Millefleurs d’Uccles chickens!

One of a pair of Madame du Barry sphinxes at the entrance to the Bianchi home

One of a pair of Madame du Barry sphinxes flanking the entrance to the Bianchi home.

Later, we returned to the Coral Casino where Bianchi and her husband. Adam, graciously treated us to a superb sunset dinner at the elegant upstairs dining room. What a way to end our stay in Santa Barbara. I simply cannot wait to return and see all of these gorgeous people again.

Channeling an old school “Hollywood” vibe, I’m sporting a Tom Ford tangerine silk basket weave “Spencer” jacket and dove grey silk pant, Gucci white cotton voile safari shirt, a silk “Disco Fever” pocket sqaure from Pochette Square, a Le Noeud Papillion orange silk polka dot ascot, Tom Ford “Cyrille” sunglasses, Rolex watch, orange suede tasseled loafers by Etro, and my fragrance is Creed Orange Spice.

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Big Sur and The Hacienda

James Andrew at the Hacienda

James Andrew at the Hacienda


After a lovely al fresco breakfast in the Cypress Inn courtyard we headed south along HWY 1 to Big Sur – around every bend there were breathtakingly beautiful views, and a leisurely itinerary provided us ample opportunity to stop here and there along the way and take it all in.

Our friend Philip Bewley suggested we make a stop at the cliff-side bar and cafe, Nepenthe in Big Sur. A destination for poets, artists, and travelers alike, it has been in business for sixty years. Designed in collaboration with student of Frank Lloyd Wright, Rowan Maiden, the building seems to grow out of the hill side. It is still a family run affair and offers the most amazing views.

We stopped for lunch at the Post Ranch Inn – a truly gorgeous treat. It’s a perfect combination of stunning vistas and equally delicious food, and as it turned out, it was a nice bit of luxury before the next portion of our journey, The Hacienda.

Our drive through Big Sur

Our drive through Big Sur

The Hacienda, aka the Rancho Milpitas, was built for William Randolph Hearst. It was one of the many projects completed by architect, Julia Morgan. Once part of Hearst’s massive estate, the Hacienda, along with a huge parcel of land, ended up being sold to the government to settle a tax debt, and said property became Fort Liggett. The Hacienda was recently opened as a B & B of sorts, and I thought it might be a brilliant addition to our itinerary – a way to experience the Hearst/Morgan collaboration as we ventured south on our way to visit Hearst Castle.

The Hacienda

The Hacienda

Long story short, this was one of those times when listening to my intuition and conducting a bit more research would have had us making alternate plans….

It was an unexpectedly long and winding trek from HWY 1 – about one and a half hours inland to get to The Hacienda from Big Sur – and as mentioned, it is actually on a military base – there was absolutely nothing nearby. Once you’re there you are TRAPPED.

The structure of the Hacienda remains intact, but sadly it currently has a rather institutional feel to it – the staff was lovely and gave us a tour of every bit of the building, but the place is in dire need of some proper decoration and landscaping. To add to our disappointment, some of our fellow guests were rather unwelcoming troglodytes (are you starting to get the picture?) and the only dinner option was supplied by the army base’s bowling alley!

As you might imagine, McBee and I thought it best to pack up our Vuitton cases and get the hell out of there. As I’ve learned, it’s often a good idea to listen to my intuition.

Perhaps only the most die hard Julia Morgan fans would want to include this on their itinerary. I certainly would never suggest it to anyone. We did however find a portion of the Hacienda that evoked its former glory, and we took a few snaps then turned in our key.

I’m sporting a Ralph Lauren cream cotton cable knit sweater with a shawl collar, orange silk shantung pants, orange suede espadrilles and a linen serape stripe scarf, Michael Kors ivory cotton knit top, Gucci sunglasses, Rolex watch, KJP Croffice Sailing belt, and my fragrance is Tom Ford Lavender Palm.

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Carmel by the Sea

James Andrew, Carmel-by-the-Sea

James Andrew, Carmel-by-the-Sea

The idyllic Carmel-by-the-Sea is just about two and a half hours drive south of San Francisco – It’s a charming little village with some truly unique fairy tale architecture. On our way there, we stopped for lunch at the legendary Duarte’s Tavern in Pescadero for a slice of old California. A serving of their world famous artichoke soup followed by a slice of scrumptious pear pie left us nicely sated for our scenic drive. We also managed to arrive in Carmel for another California classic pastime, the Carmel-by-the-Sea Concourse on the Avenue, a motor club event that showcases some pretty spectacular cars.

The Cypress Inn, Carmel

The Cypress Inn, Carmel

The Cypress Inn, owned by Doris Day became our base of operations for our Carmel visit. We took an easy stroll through town to the beach to stretch our legs and later we were guided to the rather romantic Casanova Restaurant for an al fresco courtyard dinner. This place was just so well done – the decor, cuisine, service, etc., all was simply perfection. Carmel-by-the-Sea is quite walkable, making our return to the hotel easily traversed by foot – a fact that we were grateful for after polishing off a martini or two and a bottle of wine!

Tile at the Casanova Restaurant  Carmel

Tile wall piece at the Casanova Restaurant, Carmel

Enjoying the beauty that surrounds, I’m sporting a Tom Ford jacket in grey linen, silk and hemp, grey and white cotton voile gingham shirt and saddle leather loafers, white uniqlo slim cargo pants, Gucci python belt with silver double horse head buckle, grey and white silk retro print pocket square by Charvet, Rolex watch and my fragrance is Tom Ford Lavender Palm.

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