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Technicolor Dream

Nick Churton of Village Properties Realtors' London office gets all dreamy-eyed at an A-list house on the ocean-view slopes above Montecito, California.

The Property: 818 Hot Springs Road, Montecito, California

The Broker: Village Properties Realtors

The Agent: Patricia Griffin

I half expected Cary Grant or Grace Kelly to meet me at the door of 818 Hot Springs Road, Montecito. In my mind, I was easily transported to the set of To Catch a Thief or any number of rich, Technicolor 1960s movies set in the South of France. By the time I reached the ocean-view rear terrace, I was a little disappointed that David Niven wasn’t lounging elegantly in a deep-cushioned recliner, sipping a Martini.

But the house did not disappoint me - far from it. Here is a French-inspired home designed in the 1930s by celebrated local architect, Lutah Maria Riggs. It oozes style and class. But, better still, it has received the sort of attention in the last year a buyer could only dream of.

Seemingly, without compromising the integrity of Riggs’ original design, the layout has been reimagined for a different age. This new, modern interior answers all the requirements of a modern family while retaining the effortless style of the original home.

Outside is a masterpiece of garden design. If it hasn’t featured in the pages of House & Garden, then it should have done. The French influence continues with the striking boxwood partier and beautifully tended rose beds. The terrace and pool area could not be more Cote d’Azure if it tried. Except this is not the Mediterranean. It is the Pacific, and it is Montecito, and this home is all the better for it.

This is a grand house of mature design and serious specification. But it is also light of touch with delightful moments of levity. I particularly enjoyed the octagonal anteroom that has become a black and white marble bar area. Here my imagination intruded once again as I fancied I saw CoCo Chanel mixing cocktails.

Reverie aside, this house is a dream.