While not every writer or artist requires seclusion for focus and/or inspiration, it seems award-winning cartoonist and children’s book author Berkeley Breathed has benefitted well from the relative (if luxurious) isolation afforded him at his long-time mountaintop estate on the outskirts of Santa Barbara, California. Squirreled away at the end of narrow road that makes a dizzying wind up through the foothills, Breathed’s secluded spread is newly for sale through The Ebbin Group at Compass at $6.875 million.
The cartoonist and children’s book author is best known for his seminal 1980s comic strip “Bloom County,” which at its peak appeared in 1,200 newspapers around the world and earned Breathed a Pulitzer Price for editorial cartooning in 1987. “Bloom County” ended in 1989 and was followed by the spin off strips “Outland” and “Opus.” Breathed effectively retired from cartooning in 2008 but revived “Bloom County” several years ago, and now regularly posts strips via Facebook.
Besides cartooning, the avid outdoorsman has not infrequently dipped his professional toes into showbiz waters: Three of his ten children’s books have been turned into films; he’s consulted for the TV show “America’s Most Wanted”; and he’s listed as a character designer and story writer for upcoming animated film “Hitpig,” which will feature the voices of a slew of stars including Rainn Wilson, Hannah Gadsby, RuPaul, and Peter Dinklage.
Set heaven-high on a secluded mountaintop above the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, Breathed’s enviably sited and spectacularly private estate rambles over 25 scenic acres with dreamy, everchanging 360-degree mountain and ocean views. The property incorporates deer meadows and horse trails that wind through hidden oak groves and lead to quiet glens, thick forests, and a creek that runs through the valley below the home. Just below the swimming pool, there’s rustically quaint writer’s cabin.
Berkeley acquired the property in 1997 for $1.135 million and it wasn’t’ long before the existing residence was razed to make way for a sprawling, warmly contemporary and eclectically appointed home of almost 6,100 square feet with four bedrooms and four bathrooms. A separate, fully self-contained guesthouse adds another bedroom and bath.
Interior spaces are airy and voluminous with interesting custom details such as a black and white checkerboard marble floor in the foyer and a Balinese style wood ceiling in the bi-level living and dining room, where an antique carved wood mantel makes a striking statement, while steel-trimmed glass doors frame a cinematic view. Throughout, wide-plank French oak floorboards and Moroccan- and Egyptian-style light fixtures add global bohemianism.
Flooded with light thanks to a zig-zagging wall of frameless glass that runs behind a long counter, the kitchen is chock-full of all the snazzy appliances and features any wannabe gourmet chef would appreciate. A cozy lounge with a simple fireplace adjoins the kitchen, and glass doors open to a grassy patio where a charming porch swing hangs from the eaves in an optimal position to take in the awesome views.
Extra added luxuries include a big stone fireplace in the professional-quality home theater, and a wood-paneled office with a built-in cartoonist desk beneath a soaring, barrel-vaulted ceiling. Without question, however, the home’s peak moment is the primary bedroom, a light-filled aerie that, thanks to floor to ceiling windows on three walls, feels like it’s hovering magically above the landscape. When the view gets to be too much or the afternoon sunshine too glaring, automated shades drop down at the mere touch of a button.
Outside spaces are no less breathtaking with postcard-perfect coastal views from the stone terrace and solar-heated swimming pool. (There’s an array of solar panels affixed to a slope below the house.) A grassy area of the backyard extends out over the flat roof of the guesthouse, which provides optimal privacy for both homeowner and visitors with a separate driveway, a full kitchen and a bedroom with built-in bunk beds.
This is not the first time Breathed has tried to sell the estate, which feels remote yet is in easy proximity to the villages of Montecito, Summerland, and Carpinteria. In 2013-14 it failed to find a buyer, first at $4.95 million and later at $4.475 million. But, given the new-found desire people have for getting out of dodge during a pandemic, there’s probably a much better chance this time around the supremely private spot will entice a deep-pocketed buyer looking for a remote spot to hideout swaddled in relaxed luxury.