Tired of the neutral decor trend? Not only is this mini-estate in the Sycamore Canyon area of Montecito swaddled both inside and out in every shade of the rainbow, but it also carries a colorful past. Once home to the late Santa Barbara artist Standish Backus — probably best known as the official civilian artist on Admiral Byrd’s landmark 1950s expedition to the South Pole — this one-of-a-kind spread was built in 1999 and designed by Tom Meaney, in what the local master architect has referred to as a “tropical plantation” style.
Originally listed back in May by Backus’ daughter Virginia — who subsequently owned the place with her deceased husband, longtime NBC News correspondent Sander Vanocur — the multi-hued digs recently sold to husband-and-wife vineyard owners Bill and Cindy Wenzlau for $10.5 million, a hefty $1.5 million discount off the original ask.
Nestled on a gated hilltop parcel of just over 2 acres, highlighted by sweeping coastline and mountain vistas, the main green stucco structure features five bedrooms and six baths spread across 5,333 square feet of living space punctuated by rooms boasting vibrant accents and finishes, and interiors that meld into the outdoor spaces via abundant glass windows and doors. A detached guest house also can be found on the premises, complete with mustard interiors crowned by a unique etched-wood ceiling.
A columned portico tops the front door, which swings open to reveal a green and red-trimmed great room resting underneath a rattan and wood-beamed ceiling, and displaying a fireside living room with French doors that open to the backyard and an adjacent dining area. The yellow eat-in kitchen is outfitted with open shelves and has French doors leading to a wraparound patio ideal for al fresco dining; and there’s also a stylish green office sporting rich hardwood floors and a nook of built-in shelves, plus a cozy family room warmed by a fireplace.
Upstairs, the sumptuous master retreat has a niche carved out specifically for the bed, a spacious sitting area and dual baths — one equipped with a vintage clawfoot soaking tub, and the other a walk-in shower. Perhaps the property’s most striking aspect: the picturesque grounds, which contain lush Frances Shannon-designed gardens spotlighted by a winding pathway traversing a bright red bridge, and an infinity-edge pool overlooking a grassy meadow — possibly the perfect spot for the new owners to plant a few grapevines.