Soulful Retreat


House of Honey transforms a Colonial Montecito estate into a modern weekend escape

The wood-clad entrance sets the tone for the modern and organic design by the House of Honey team.
Photos by Victoria Pearson.

“I approach design as creating experiences that make a space more personal and soulful,” says designer Tamara Kaye-Honey, founder and principal designer of House of Honey. “I love designing intimate moments with personal touches that create a feeling of home, no matter where you are.” It was this sensibility that drove the transformation of a 1940s Colonial home in Montecito into a modern weekend retreat for a family of five from the Bay Area.

A custom flushmount by Jason Koharik dances along the entry ceiling towards a Croft House credenza.
Photos by Victoria Pearson.
A Forchette chandelier by Materia Designs hangs in the living room. Photos by Victoria Pearson.

Tasked with overhauling the interior architecture as well as the design, the House of Honey team collaborated with the contractor on the design direction of the architectural details and the facade. “Our goal was to reference the past in order to honor the home’s provenance yet update the feeling and make it more livable for the active family,” says Honey. “It was about respecting the history while reinterpreting for the future.”

Another custom flushmount sculpture by Jason Koharik illuminates the kitchen.Photos by Victoria Pearson.

Set on four acres, the 5,600-square-foot home had a myriad of traditional details that lacked identity. They began to reimagine the spaces by removing the layers of heavy decorative ironwork, brick, tile, moldings and traditional lighting. “The floor plan was very disjointed,” says Honey. “We opened the house up by installing custom bifolding steel and glass door moments at all the large west-facing rooms to provide an indoor- outdoor living experience.”

In the dining room, a Croft House table is surrounded by vintage chairs found on 1stdibs. The sconces are by Rich Brilliant Willing.Photos by Victoria Pearson.

The iron and brick were replaced with walls of steel and glass that granted more access to the expansive ocean views. “We originally planned to maintain much of the existing plaster walls and flooring in the back rooms, but in the end, we decided to start fresh and therefore we installed new European white oak floors from RMS flooring in Santa Barbara and Italian deco plaster walls,” she says.

The clients love to entertain, so flexibility and durability were critical when it came to finish and furniture selections. “On the weekends, this fun family might transform the entry into a disco for dance parties and the living room into a screening room,” says Honey. “Our overall direction for the home was to create a sophisticated vibe that was not too serious. You always need a sense of personality and humor.”

A mirror by Bower NYC hangs over a sink and faucet by Boffi in the powder room.
Photos by Victoria Pearson.

Interior selections began with the finishes. “Our clients’ aesthetic is very modern and minimal, so we wanted the wood and tile choices to follow suit,” Honey notes. Wood varieties throughout played a connecting role, creating consistency from room to room while carving out unique character. “We wanted each space to speak to the other,” she says. Custom millwork by Jerry Peifer of Peifer Woodworking out of Carpinteria resulted in rift-cut natural oak flat panel interior doors, quarter-sawn oiled oak cabinets in the hallway, bathroom vanities, oak slats in the primary bedroom and walnut kitchen cabinetry. “The walnut in the interiors connected with the Ipe outside,” Honey notes. “The Ipe slats were used for a custom pergola that almost disappears into the lines of the house while still being completely functional.”

In the primary bedroom, the bed is by Community MFG, the nightstands are by Croft House and the sconces by Brendan Ravenhill.
Photos by Victoria Pearson.
A Rich Brilliant Willing pendant complements plumbing fixtures by Dornbracht in the primary bathroom.
Photos by Victoria Pearson.

The subtleties in the finishes are balanced by the dynamic chandeliers, pendants and sconces found throughout. “The lighting fixtures are art pieces in and of themselves,” she says. “We collaborated with Jason Koharik, an L.A.-based artist and lighting designer, to create a custom entry lighting moment that was sculptural and would set the tone for the rest of the house.”

Like the lighting, the art throughout was thoughtfully curated to leave a lasting impression. “Art is so important to me for every project and obviously this comes from an emotional place, not whether or not it works in a space,” says Honey. When selecting each work, the clients responded to more contemporary pieces, full of organic colors, textures and movement. “The playfulness and sense of emotion in their pieces really set the tone for the interiors,” she says. “The home feels alive now,” says Honey of the final result. “I realize in order to find that feeling from design, we must consider the interaction, not just the look.”

Under the custom pergola, a dining table by Dedon is surrounded by benches by J Byron H and a sectional by Dedon.
Photos by Victoria Pearson.