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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.

✤ ✤ ✤


  1. Regina says:

    Staples and Bynes created a series of MUST HAVE books for the HISPANIC SOCIETY OF AMERICA…membership included Hearst, Huntington etc. Living in Spain at the time as antiquarian dealers who chronicled architectural history, they assisted in dismantling building elements to send over for the insatiable market of the time. The Bynes premier ensembles for Casa del Herrero and San Simeon are faultless in transporting one to another culture and time!
    I am glad you saw these treasures of California which really are World Sites of Beauty…as well as enjoying the Penny’s hospitality…

  2. Regina says:

    Mildred Stapley and Arthur Byne were married.

  3. James!

    Wow! This is fantastic! I love the portraits and the colours- and what a nice gesture on Penny Bianchi’s part- so gracious! Lucky you! Thanks for sharing-


  4. Wendy Woo says:

    The road trip was indeed ravishing! The sites, the architecture and people! Incredible.

  5. Hello James!

    It was such a treat to meet you and Scott. I only wish we could have spent more time together.
    The image of you and Penny and her adorable pups is classic!
    Penny and Adam have created a refuge for all animals and humans, don’t you agree?
    I look forward to your next visit to the West Coast.


  6. La Comtesse Lola says:

    James! James! James!

    It was so wonderful to finally meet you in person. And oh that jacket! The colour! You brought a style and panache to Santa Barbara that hasn’t been seen since Hearst left his castle! So, now we can say there’s a new King in town…Vive Le Roi!

    And speaking of style and panache, may we take a moment to speak about Mr. McBee? I just died sitting next to him at lunch! A wit and cheekbones you could cut yourself on! All that AND an amazing talent. Truly swoon worthy…

    Of course, you know the two of you shine so bright, you make my eyes hurt!

    I’ve decided I am going to have to find a way to take you up on that “Martini Research and Development” project in New York, that we’ve been discussing…and I think I am going to have to kidnap Brooke and bring her too! Can you imagine?!

    Much, much love to you both, and best wishes for your continued success in every thing you do, and every thing you wish for!

    And come back, come back…soon…


  7. James Andrew says:

    My Dear Regina,

    Thank You! I had been looking for these dealers who were instrumental in provided all these marvelous pieces for Hearst et al.

    I always try to incorporate antiques or salvaged pieces into new construction to add a bit more soul to a home.

    It is my goal while traveling to see as many great examples of architecture and design as I can- California was indeed a rich and rewarding aesthetic experience.



  8. What a wonderful description and pictures of everything, and everyone!!
    (Mr.McBee made funny noises so the dogs were at attention, everyone)!

    I think this California adventure would make a great book!!!

  9. Bravo!!! I forgot to say; everyone loves this outfit!!!

  10. James Andrew says:

    My Dear La Comtesse Lola,

    It was just beyond sublime to finally meet you in the flesh!!!

    So enjoyed being in the presence of your glorious energy field.

    Yes! You must come to NYC and you must start your blog:

    La Comtesse Lola

    Keep us posted!

    Love and Light


  11. James Andrew says:

    My Dearest Penelope Bianchi,

    You truly made our visit to Montecito quite magical on so many levels!

    Your blog is just tremendous and I can’t stop reading it!

    What a treat it was to share some treasured time with you and yours.

    Love and Light


  12. James Andrew says:

    Wendy you are so Wonderful!

    Ravishing indeed!

    It was just such a spectacular experience.

    Love and Light


  13. Thank the Lord! the dogs are back!

    a darling woman who was the best assistant ever wrote this:

    ” Aunt Penz – PLEASE let me know what magazine cover this will grace because I MUST get a copy!! xo”

    How adorable is that???
    50 minutes ago ·

  14. By the way; I have been so touched and complimented by many people whose taste I respect; but that one sentence (you are the Ernest Hemingway of bloggers); you describe our house……is the top compliment I have ever received! (maybe its “bravura”! it is the whole sentence. I have post-its all over saying “bravura”!!

    And it applies to absolutely everything in life!

    ps between “Splenderosa” and “Patina”, and YOU; I have a “raft” of new subscribers! Yikes! I have to ramp up!!!


    Thank you!

  15. James Andrew says:

    My Darling Penelope,

    I am so beyond thrilled to hear!

    It was a challenge in such a brief post to try to even begin to so richly and adequately describe our wonderful experience with you.

    I just can’t stop reading your blog – You are the Vreeland of Interior Design!

    So happy to hear we are able to share your Joie de vivre and bravura!

    Much Love


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