Residential estates in Santa Barbara, Montecito and Hope Ranch have long held a fascination for locals and visitors alike. Stories about the owners and their habits — and the designers responsible for their décor — fill volumes of coffee-table books and architectural magazines.
With Huguette Clark’s historic Bellosguardo getting national attention, the public has had the opportunity to take a virtual tour of the mansion, getting a glimpse of what’s behind its mysterious walls and hedges. It’s an aspirational voyeur’s dream, shedding light not only on the owners but how they lived and how they entertained. Whether is was the dishes and silverware in their butler’s pantry or the grounds they used to set up al fresco dining events or formal dinner parties, it is great fodder for one’s imagination.
Gracious entertaining, whether on a small, intimate scale or a full-blown bash, inspired Nancy Kimsey and her friend, Cindy Sapienza, to open Legacy in 2011. The shop at 1137 Coast Village Road in Montecito is tastefully curated to show off beautiful accessories for the home.
After four years, it’s safe to say they’ve found a niche in the community that Kimsey said “has given Legacy great support” since it opened. People here, she adds, love their homes and entertaining for themselves or others.
Expanding their extensive collections of dinnerware, linens, serving pieces, crystal vases, frames, hand-hammered stainless serving pieces and flatware, they’ve added women’s and children’s clothing, silver jewelry, Rattan handbags, gourmet food items and a bridal registry.
The duo has also enlarged their coffee-table books collection. Two of Kimsey’s favorites are by New York City author Michele Keith, a regular contributor to The New York Times, Departures, Traditional Home and O Magazine.
Kimsey says Keith’s books stand out because they bring the designers’ personalities and styles to life. On Tuesday, locals will get a chance to hear Keith share her stories of peeking into the homes of others. She’ll be at Legacy from 1 to 3 p.m. for a book signing, champagne and dessert.
Keith’s 2013 book, Designers Here and There: Inside the City and Country Homes of America’s Top Decorators, satisfies the interest in how the people who are hired to transform the residences of others design for themselves.
Keith also authored Designers Abroad: Inside the Vacation Homes of Top Decorators in 2010. The book features 22 vacation homes, with lush photography accompanying each profile of the designers expressing their personal style.
Included in the Designers Abroad book is a feature on Sue Firestone’s 171-foot yacht, The Tamsen. “Designed for residential ambience,” Firestone docks her maritime masterpiece in Santa Barbara.
“While vacation homes offer an opportunity to escape the office, for decorators, however, vacation homes mean just the opposite,” Keith said. “They provide the opportunity to bring work home as they roam the globe, honing their design sensibilities and expanding collections of treasures.”
— Judy Foreman is a Noozhawk columnist and longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at email@example.com. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.