Monterey Colonial!! "Progress!" "More Progress coming next" This is the "Interior progress" midway! UPDATE!!!

by Posted On


Well;  again, instead of just launching into the
” update” on our “Montecito Monterey Colonial”;  because of my new subscribers, I am repeating the “during” published in January!

With three children relocating from Europe; all the things I had done to the house in their absence, the progress now is slowing down!  But “slow and steady wins the race!!”  And our daughter

will not make any mistakes!  This is the post that was posted in January!

(I will make some notes along the way!)

Image 4

This is the continuation of the “restoration” of the Joseph Plunkett designed “Monterey Colonial”  house  we found (finally); in Montecito after a two-year

search for our daughter and her family to move “back to Montecito ” after 8 years in Switzerland!! I consider it one of the “magnificent houses built in the ’30’s!!!”;

by a premier architect in the  “Monterey Colonial”  Style!

First;  the architect!  Joseph Plunkett arrived in Santa Barbara and worked for the excellent  architect George Washington Smith; and then was

half of the firm “Edwards and Plunkett”.  Unfortunately, he died at 46!!

The fact that he is so famous and he died so young is a great testament to his talent!  The most important part was to restore the house!

Before my next installment of pictures (our daughter really didn’t want this installment….but gave permission with the caveat:

“it isn’t finished being decorated yet!”

Well;  in my world….nothing ever is!  Her choices (my advice;  but completely her choices) of colors, rugs, and finishes.  This is the interim…….but the restoration of this  house has been so educational for me!

So here it is showing a restoration in progress!

My philosophy (fortunately shared by my step-daughter and her husband) is to start with the house!

No complaints!  the “bones” of this house are as “good as it gets” , in my opinion!

You have seen the before!  And one installment of during!  Mostly the exterior!

Here we go!!!  The interior!

There were lots of things to be done before they arrived.

 Let’s start with the entry hall.  (I had been looking for two years;  and  when I first saw this house;  the front door opened;  I looked up and saw the sky!

I immediately thought;  “this wants to be blue!”  Our daughter agreed!  We tried at least 6 colors of blue!  emailing back and forth…….we waited until she

arrived…..we chose “light blue”;  Farrow and Ball”

(All paints by Farrow and Ball used for the whole house!!)

(I have been a decorator in Pasadena and Montecito for 43 years.,,,never have I stepped into an entry hall and looked up and seen “the sky”!!)

Never!  Here it is!


Here it is!  this is the window one sees when you step in the door!

I thought……”this entry wants to be blue!”

Fortunately;  our daughter    agreed! She ‘got ‘it when she saw it!

we both (and the painter);  learned so much from how colors change according to the “light”!!

One lovely reason to use “Farrow and Ball”  (do not believe one paint store who says they can duplicate these  paints!)

They cannot!  There are way more pigments than any American paint!


Here it is blue!  (Farrow and Ball,  “Light blue”)



By the way, this border looks orange in this picture! It isn’t!  It is red;  closer to the next picture!

Image 5

The daughter had always dreamed of this runner!  I suggested the red binding….she went for it!  She loves it!

This house has the lovely architectural feature of an “enfilade”!

One stands just inside the front door; ( it is a central hall floor plan)  and one can see through aligned doorways  from one end of the house to the other!  Each way. (very unusual in Southern California!) A beautiful architectural feature anywhere.


Looking into the living room!

 The view from the entry to the left!  (one can see through the far doorway the library fireplace !)

(If I were a better photographer)

Tucked under the circular staircase is a charming powder room (behind the white door in the entry hall).


I love the curving wall;  I think it gives it the best personality and charm!

Many people would consider it a “flaw”!  I simply adore quirky and brilliant things like this!

It is so obvious to me (even before I knew the architect)  that this house was designed by a brilliant architect!!

Joseph Plunkett!



The charming little sink was original to the house in 1934;  but it was pink!  She did not want pink (nor did I);  but we found

someone to refinish it!

I was delighted to be able to preserve it!


The Library transformed!!

One of the things that bothered us  was that a window in the beautifully paneled library

had been removed to make into a TV cabinet!  Thank goodness the window itself, and the outside shutters had been saved!


What a difference!!  This is when we removed the cabinet.  Great care was taken (by the  owner who made the tv cabinet!!)  not  to enlarge the opening;

 and so everything fit perfectly back together!   And look at the light!  And the view!!

What a difference!!!

Image 2

This, below, is after the restoration;  you will notice that we painted the backs of the bookcases to match the paneling.

The fireplace was an “antique” in 1934!  And the restoration of the “window”  was important!


Remember this bathroom?
It is between the library and the downstairs bedroom.
The boy twin has the downstairs bedroom; and this bathroom.
Fortunately, he never saw this!
But you may have; and if not, now you will!
Image 65
Image 71
Can you believe it?  We approximated the marble on the antique fireplace;  and our cabinet
man made all the new cabinets right on site!
We removed all the shutters from every window!   They blocked out the light and hid the views!
The views are beautiful from every single window!
The mirror is a hinged medicine cabinet.


this is the same view that showed the two sinks………We reduced it to one…….removed the tile…….

and our boy grandson made friends with the bathroom!



The antique pavers on the floor were left over from our guest house!   A bonanza!

Just enough!!



And the inside of the showers we did in “Brooke and Steve’s pool plaster”!  (of “Velvet and Linen” and “Giannetti Architects”) It looks beautiful!!

You can put pigments in it;  but this is just plain;  and there is a very interesting kind of “patina”!

Brooke and Steve let me bring our plasterer down to their house in Oxnard to see!

Below was the built-in dresser between the bathroom and bedroom.

Nothing wrong with the drawers;  soaked the shiny brass “lacquered ” hardware in some solution!  Painted  the cabinet Farrow and Ball  “Railings”

And “POOF!!”

Good lines make easy solutions!

There are two windows in this space.  The shutters shut out (interesting name for shutters)  light, views, and also made it impossible to open the windows!


She picked a lovely camel grasscloth wallpaper; and then the mirror was hung!

this above;  became this;  below!


Same knobs. they were shiny brass!  Soaked in turpentine;  they became understated and they

are the new “unpolished brass…..which will weather naturally…..the natural finish that is

fortunately gaining force into fashion today!


 The boy’s bedroom has three exposures;  and wonderful views into the gardens!

Our daughter found some lovely “grasscloth”!  and his room is getting better and better!!

The house is mostly one room deep;  which is one of the best of its architectural features!

Two of the four bedrooms have three exposures;  making wonderful light and views!

This  post was meant to  show;  and it may (appropriately be called) “The end of during”

Henceforth, “evolving”!


Back to the entry hall;  to the left is the living room with French doors opening to the front terrace and the back terrace;  to the right is the dining room  shown here!  The beams in the living room and dining room were formerly brown. We selected two colors of off-white for the woodwork and the walls.

Both the living room;  and the dining room have French doors on both sides;  opening to the north (this view) and to the south (onto the front terrace).


The view from the dining room!

I am so sorry about these pictures!  The beams and trim are a lovely off-white!  The color of the beams is the same color as the trim!

Going up the stairs, these charming wood valances are over the two windows on the curving walls!

These were also original to the house in 1934!  We plan to paint some detail!

(No curtains/ shades yet here and in the boy’s bedroom!)



Turn to the right is the master bedroom!

Now the Master Bedroom!  Here it was with these beams, shutters  and fireplace before.


The tile “sneaked”  in from the bathroom!

It is the same tile as in the downstairs bathroom!~

Image 81

 This tile was “much loved” by the truly darling family that installed it (I am guessing 40 years ago!)

(I do tell my clients;  and always have;  try to put simple “permanent” things like tile and plumbing fixtures  mostly white;  because when

you decide you are “tired” of patterns or colors;  paint and wallpaper are easy to change!)  ( This tile

all over the walls and floors of two bathrooms and sneaking into the bedrooms and dressing rooms  was not easy to change!!)

No more tile; painted the brick, and used some leftover marble from the downstairs counter on the hearth.

She loves carpeting in a bedroom;  it makes it very cozy and this carpet seems like an extension of the hardwood floors!

I love it!!!



Beams removed.  Such a pretty shaped ceiling!  Again, this room has 3 exposures and beautiful light and views!

It also opens onto the balcony that runs the length of the front of the house!


(I were extremely disappointed with the curtains…….)!
Same fabric;  new remake……..happy ending!!!
I love the bed alcove with bookcases!
Still working on the headboard;  and getting the curtains right!

Pool plaster shower and walls;  “borrowed light” ceiling ;  new cabinet

with a space for either a dressing table or a free standing  bathtub.



“Pool plaster”  shower, limestone floors and countertop of beautiful new cabinet!

A medicine cabinet on the left and the right! (behind the mirrored panels)



Thank you Brooke and Steve of Velvet and Linen and Giannetti Architects and Giannetti Home for the pool


Here is the view from the master bedroom, bath, other  bedrooms of the mountains and trees!

That redwood in the right corner is so

tall I can’t even estimate!


 These mountains are beautiful!

this is the view from every bedroom;  the living and dining rooms!

Back to the “central hall”

At the top of the stairs;  turn left and there are two “jack and jill” bedrooms  (in this case they are jill and jill’s)!

Two bedrooms that share a dressing room, two walk-in closets and a bath!  The girl twin and her older sister each have one!

Such a perfect set up!


 This bedroom had a  mural on all four walls!

They primed the walls before the ceiling and I came in!  I said;  “YIKES!!!  Save that ceiling!!  I LOVE IT!!!!”

Fortunately, my granddaughter did too!  Two hand-painted birds are building a nest!

And it is a lovely sky!



The second bedroom which shares the dressing room and bath!

Still awaiting headboard and a few things!


Two exposures;  facing East and South!

Farrow and Ball “Calamine”!



This daughter is 16!  She loves “pink!”

Their bathroom was done completely in “pool plaster!

A new bathtub;  and another cabinet made “on site”  (the way they did it in 1934)!!


Again, like the master bath;  limestone floors and counters;  in this case;  the splash had to have the faucets and spout come of of the wall to give more space!


Gorgeous!  (to me!!)

I hope you enjoy!

Funny story.  Our housekeeper was helping at this house;

and a man came in!  He said….”I saw this house on the internet;  I need to know the manufacturer, the colors and number of the paints on the outside!

( Our housekeeper is very, very smart!)

She said  “I will ask”!  “Mrs. Penny”  (I love that!)

So;  here’s what!  If anyone wants the names and number of the colors;  let me know!

I will list them all!

One of the greatest beauties of Farrow and Ball;  is their “sample pots”!

Colors changed from room to room more than I ever thought possible!

The painter and I thought we were losing our minds!

(this has been my painter for 16 years)  !!!

Critical in selecting a paint color! You

paint enough on the wall……and you look at it at all times of the day!

Take advantage, I suggest, of this feature this paint company provides!

(no I do no advertising)

I have no connection with Farrow and Ball!

“Old School”  (you should see him……he is the coolest looking ‘surfer’ you will ever see!!)

And he is of the “old school” when it comes to painting!  He subscribes to my bible…..and that is “preparation, preparation, preparation!!”

and another post is coming!

A house is NEVER finished…….and this, like all, is evolving!  there are just more posts!  and the next one will be in a day or two!

What a treat to work on such a treasure!!!



The repaired gate in the center of the back garden!

This is what Sara Dillard (one of my favorite bloggers and writers)!

calls an “axis”  It is in the center of the hedges in the back garden and creates

a lovely focal point on axis from the center of the house!  The entry hall!




 Steve Giannetti suggested this “cathedral ceiling” in the porte-cochere!

What fun it is!

This lovely, classic house will continue to evolve! It is a house that is not too small for five people;  and not too “big” for two!

Steve Giannetti has designed a terrific “playroom and guest room and bath in the garage space on the right in this picture!

(on his iPad to scale…it was a wonder to watch!)

When they can;  this will be the next project!

The most exciting thing of all is having our grandchildren back from Europe; and our daughter

and son-in-law so close!

Our daughter says, every time she drives in the driveway, she “pinches herself” that she really lives in this house!

We all feel incredibly fortunate!

I am especially grateful for my “team”!  None of this could have been done without my

absolutely amazing team!  Alfredo;  the most brilliant “jack of all trades” he made all the cabinets, the replacement french door screens,

repaired all the hardware; I could go on and on!

Joe;  the best electrician in the world;  (and the handsomest!);

Rick the best painter in the world,and all the wonderful subcontractors who fixed all the

things you could ever dream of!

It is now the “best of all worlds!  The quality and beauty of an “old house”;

and the benefits of a “new house” with all the electrical, plumbing and heating updated and


Hang on tio your hats

the most important changes were in this post!

the next one shows some more.  Chip away!!!;  it you do it right;  it takes a long time to  redo a treasure of an old house…….


I hope you enjoyed this “catch-up”!

The next installment will be the most recent!

Remember;  it takes a long time for a house to be “done”!  (it is never finished!!)

It remains a work “in progress!!”

I hope you will enjoy the “process”!  As our darling daughter and I do!!!

Next installment……..NOW!!!

9 months later!!!

October 26th!!  2013!!!


34 thoughts on “Monterey Colonial!! "Progress!" "More Progress coming next" This is the "Interior progress" midway! UPDATE!!!

  1. Cheryl

    What a beautiful family home. Love seeing the progress and I look forward to more!

  2. Sandra Jonas

    Penny, that is stunning!!!! How lucky they are to have your brilliant talent both to find the house and decorate it for them.
    Thank you for sharing so much solid advice in each post.
    I am very interested in the ‘pool plaster’ in the shower. Any chance you could elaborate on how its done?

    1. Penelope Bianchi

      From our experience; it is done just the same way plaster is done; but it is “waterproof” plaster that is used in a swimming pool! You change the texture; you can add pigments; I love it just the way Brooke and Steve did it; and It is just plain white. But it isn’t solid white!

  3. tara dillard

    Remember the epiphany of focal-point-on-axis.

    Years later, another, you must be able to walk to the focal point, turn around and see another focal point, Double Axis…..

    Written 5 books so far and I know I WANT to do a book only of Double Axis pics.

    Of course you KNEW the foyer needed to be blue. Intuitive.

    Ate my dinner reading this post, alone on a Friday night and so HAPPPPPPPPPPPY! having you with me.

    It is the paint pigments, cheap paint is not an arena to save money. Harmful to the spirit. Cheap paint & florescent lites. Should keep therapists in business.

    We both know why plantation shutters hit it big. Pure EGO. Years ago I had considered them but realized quickly my cats would hate them.

    Cannot wait for ‘after’.

    Garden & Be Well, love/hugs/ Tara

    1. Penelope Bianchi

      We knew each other in another life. I am positive of this!

      You simply must come out here!

      I will find you some venues to speak! It is a necessity! I will start working on this! Lucky people who can hear you!



  4. MaryBeth

    Where to begin…I love the entry as much as you, the pool plaster bath, that old sink might be my favorite, the views, the town, the paint. It is all wonderful and I would pinch myself driving up everyday too. And to think it isn’t finished. Please keep the info coming this is a dream come to for your daughter but me too.

  5. La Contessa

    Truely lovely…………everything!You all have been busy!
    Now go look at your phone cause I sent you a couple of pics!
    I loved your commentary!!!!!!!!!

  6. Tokyo Jinja

    Penny – This house is such a dream and watching you work to restore and update it to its full potential is so exciting. I loved this in-process post and you can really see the great bones and the quality of light on all sides. I think the little powder room downstairs is divine – so glad you saved the sink – and I love the Murano chandelier in there (I’m biased as I have one quite like it). The library window and panelling restoration is amazing too. And I love that you saved that ceiling in the girls bedroom – she’ll dream of those little birds forever. I hope your daughter has an easy time adjusting back to the US. We’ve been gone over 8 years and repatriation can be hard. Having this extraordinary home to come back to – and proximity to you – will make it all so much easier.

    1. Penelope Bianchi

      Oh! Thank you Jacqueline!(Of Tokyo Jinja) ( I loved that Murano fixture the second I went into that room (also!

      I also feel that way about those birds……I hope she will think of them and me long after I am gone!

      Thank you so much for such a lovely comment!

  7. Christine Hooker

    Yes, Friday night, by myself!
    Viewing, reviewing…loving every single view!
    Classic, Classy, Comfortable and all other superlatives I can conger.
    Simply lovely and livable wonder-full!
    I would pinch myself, too!
    Thank you, all, for sharing with us.
    xoxo, Chris

    1. Penelope Bianchi

      Thank you, Chris, so much! It means so much to me!!

  8. Bette (@Ideezine)


    Hi! This post has such value for a remodel. Great tips on where you start and finish with the “integrity” of the home. Open your eyes and get a sense of the space “read the rooms”. Invaluable!

    How wonderful it is to have found this gem of a home, work with your family, and restore it to embrace a new chapter in it’s life history.

    Excited to see and learn more…Cheers to progress!

    1. Penelope Bianchi

      Thank you so much! You explained what I try to do better than I do!!

  9. Marietta

    Once again, you are quite simply……the best!


    1. Penelope Bianchi

      To Marietta! Thank you , my dear friend! You saw it from day one! It has been such a fulfilling project!!!

  10. velvet and linen

    The transformation is coming along beautifully.
    You have a connection to this house… as if the house is telling you what it needs. I know that seems weird, but your decisions seem so natural… the colors, the textures… you are so intuitive.

    We are doing the plaster bathrooms in our new house as well.
    Our plasterer is suggesting a mesh layer over the brown coat of plaster and applying another layer of acrylic cement over it prior to the final coat to prevent cracking. I’ll also ask him what to do about crack. Will get back to you!


    1. Penelope Bianchi

      Thank you, dear friend!! I have learned all about these bathrooms from you! That is a very small step to add!



      ps it is a total “Pasadena House” As I said and showed in my first post about it; all of us said…….”It’s sooo Pasadena!!!”
      (I grew up “amongst ’em!!)

      1. Penelope Bianchi

        (In reply to Velvet and Linen)!

        Hi Brooke! I don’t think I have ever told you this; but I have told lots of clients over the years: “If a house has really good architecture; it will speak to you, and lead you to restore it and remodel it with respect.”

        There is just a “new group of ‘bigger and better'” who don’t even recognize good architecture when they see it! That makes me sad; however look at you and all your followers who want to learn to “do it right”!! Bravo!!!

  11. Gina-Willow Decor

    I adore transformations and this one is stunning!!! As a lover of great architecture and historic homes I think it’s wonderful you were able to save this house and restore it. The big box McMansions lack the warmth and soul this house has and your attention and details have made it even more beautiful! My favorite is the library. Returning the window to its original location is just perfect. Your daughter is so lucky-to live in such a gem and to also be so close to her family. We lived for several years in Munich, so I understand how difficult it often is to come back to the constant motion of the US. This house will give them some respite as they transition. One quick question, what is the paint color of the bath with the curved wall? We are painting our beach house in Farrow and Ball and I love the feeling of that room.
    Wonderful, beautiful job! So inspiring!!!
    xx Gina

    1. Penelope Bianchi

      Thank you for the lovely comment!
      I swear; I think she picked it for its adorable name! (not really, it is beautiful) “mizzle” It is gorgeous! Be sure to use the sample pots. I am not kidding; I would have bet a million dollars that some of those colors were not the same! And 100% of 100% of the time I was wrong!

    2. Penelope Bianchi

      Farrow and Ball “mizzle” is the powder room! (two bathrooms have curved walls because of that divine circular staircase in the entry!

      The master bathroom walls and shower, and everything is “pool plaster”!

      I think you meant the powder room! I hope you get this!

  12. Loi Tone on Tone

    Dear Penelope,
    I love that entry – what presence!! I love that you knew it should be blue. Also, the painted ceiling is divine. So glad you all kept it. And that handsome paneled library is my favorite. This house is beautiful and stately yet warm. Look forward to seeing more.
    Tone on Tone

    1. Penelope Bianchi

      More coming! Isn’t that library the best? Thank you for your compliments! When we got rid of that awful tv cabinet; it was shocking how much wonderful light poured in!

      The talent of the original architect was so evident!!!


  13. cindy hattersley

    I so enjoyed reading about the transformation of this lovely home. I too live in a Monterey Colonial (that needs it’s baths updated I might add). I loved seeing what you have done without changing the spirit of the home. Love it!

    1. Penelope Bianchi

      Where is your Monterey Colonial house; if I may ask?
      I am a total fan of this style of architecture!
      I was surprised to learn that it tran sversed the entire country!
      IN the thirties and forties!!


  14. Joni Webb

    Penelope – I loved this!! so much !! cant’ get over the changes, especially in the bathrooms, that’s amazing.

    i wish i lived nearby so i could take photographs for you! yours are just,well, it’s sad. truly sad! haha!!!!! I wish I could take them for you!!!!

    can’t wait for the next installment. love seeing it be redone.

    1. Penelope Bianchi

      I am going to have Brooke and Steve help me with my pictures!

      It seems to me; that most people who read our blogs are kinda patient with the photographs! (but you and Brooke “take the cake”!!!) Your pictures and your transformations are wonderful!

      I am happy you could see the transformation of such a beautiful house. Circa 1934!!! Not ruined by remodeling!

  15. chania

    I also have a Monterey Style home, so I enjoy the posts on your daughter’s house. Mine was built in 1936 and original photos of the house show it to have been painted pink with blue shutters also. It is in St. Petersburg Florida, so the colors are in keeping with Old Florida. It was painted by previous owners cream with Hemmingway green shutters, which I am going to change as I want something more in keeping with the house. I love the dark shutters you chose. I have been also reading Brooke’s blog and getting inspiration from her. You can see my house here if you wish.

    Love your blog!


  16. Marsha @ Splenderosa

    I’m laughing at what Joni said. She DOES take fabulous photos, I must say that. Lordy, woman, how do you have time to blog with all this work going on around you? But, I’m happy you continue to blog, seeing this house makes me want you to come here and speak to the man of the house who doesn’t be changed. YIKES! And, bless Steve & Brooke. You guys have got it all out there don’t you? xx’s

  17. Penelope Bianchi

    via email! from my dear friend from Dallas…….the superstar jewelry designer Rebecca Collins…..

    TO DIE FOR!!!!

  18. Poppy

    Hello Penelope,

    I. Am. Stunned. And. Speechless.

    Need some time to study the pics, and pour over the details, AFTER I pick up my jaw off the floor! Then, I will return for a proper comment!



    Poppy, in Crete

  19. Jennings & Gates

    Hi Penelope, Great job! I’ll just say “ditto” everything Tara said. 🙂 You breathed new life into that house, what a wonderful feeling that must be. xo, NG

  20. Michelle

    I live in the East Coast and just bought a Monterey Colonial where this style is not common. It took us a while to identify the style. Which brings me to your website. You did a beautiful job in restoring this grand house. I hope to do the same with mine.

  21. Penelope Bianchi

    Hi there! Thank you for your lovely comment; it is so interesting I am just about to write some more about how the “restoration” is coming along!

    I would be happy to help you with anything you need in the restoration of your house!
    And I would love to see a picture of it and hear where it is!

    I have been doing some online “projects”; with digital photographs and the internet it is quite easy!

    Years ago; I did an entire house in North Carolina for a client who moved there from California; (even before faxes) from the plans and the mail, and photographs, and samples! She built the house from the ground up; I picked all the tile, light fixtures, wallpaper…..really something!

    I never even saw it!!

    Silly of me not to have it professionally photographed! Oh well!!!

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