Riviera Residence Santa Barbara backyard pool view.


Design Challenge

How did the architects resolve a 16-foot height difference between the garage entry court to the front door?

Design Solution

In redesigning the Riviera Residence, a hilltop home in Santa Barbara’s historic Riviera district facing the Pacific Ocean, AB design studio created an elegant entry procession to eliminate the demanding change in elevation required to reach the front door. The ascent from the lower garage and driveway brings visitors through a series of spaces, interactions, and views that offer a graceful transition to the new pool-side entry inspired by a meandering pathway through an ancient hillside village corridor. This series of turns and elevation changes creates a dramatic unfolding of events as one ascends from the street level upward toward the home, and finally to sweeping views of the California coastline with the city of Santa Barbara sparkling below. A two-car garage, fitness studio, and an L-shaped swimming pool and jacuzzi with waterfall element, were strategically stacked directly in front of the existing home to reorient the residence’s focal point toward uninterrupted views of the ocean. The architects created additional square footage by recapturing land that was previously unusable, leveraging complex engineering and foundation issues. These upgrades created a sophisticated Mediterranean-style hillside retreat inspired by the coastal architecture of Lisbon, Portugal, and the Greek islands.

Backyard view of the pool and Santa Barbara landscape from the patio room.
Standing perspective of the pool overlooking the city.

Project Data

10,390 sf
3,340 sf
Santa Barbara, CA
Josh Blumer, AIA
Eric Behr
Clay Aurell, AIA | Anthon Ellis | Joel Herrera | Aramis Arciga | Eric Behr | Karmen Aurell
Ribbens Construction
Structural Engineer
Taylor & Syfan
Soils Engineer
Pacifica Materials Laboratory
Poolside standing view of the backyard.
Gated entryway next to the garage leading to a staircase.
Late afternoon lighting arrangement of the pool, pathways, and patio.
Bedroom interior arrangement with natural wood color scheme.
Late afternoon lighting of lower level garage and backyard pathways.
Kitchen interior design with natural wood finishing and red accent furniture.
Personal office space with open windows facing a bamboo garden.
Living room and fireplace arrangement with custom light fixtures.
Lounging chair with personal bookcase designed to compliment the interior.
Front view of bedroom with antique furniture and wood ceiling beams.
Entryway wooden door detailing and metal light fixture.
Corner bathroom sink with mirrors and towel rack.
Outdoor fireplace with seating surrounded by expansive greenery.
First and second floor corner structural view from the lawn.
Intricate metalwork of bed frame and light fixtures of the bedroom.
Footboard view of custom metal bed frame inside bedroom.
Custom doorway to pool and lawn with interior seat made of ornate tiles.