Privilege Blog

A Few More Shots Of My Mother’s House, Santa Barbara Casual Elegance Meets Swedish Folk Empire


A couple of you have referred to my mom’s house lately, and Leslie, the blogger at Hostess of the Humble Bungalow, asked for more photos, so I snapped a few when I last visited.

I’ve already showed you the living room, the guest house, a silver spoon, and the portrait of the 3 oldest kids that hangs in the master bedroom. This time we’ll start in the kitchen. The kitchen window, to be precise, with sunrise, and reflections.


The kitchen sitting room, if that’s an an actual thing, also at sunrise. The brick fireplace was in place when mom and my stepfather moved in, they had the saltillo tiles installed throughout public areas of the ground floor. You see the extra height added to one of the little loveseats; my stepfather is tall.


The dining area, or nook, really, sits between the large living room and the kitchen. Which works well, since it’s both decorative and functional. Damn I love a good chandelier. The painting, lighting, clock and table are all Swedish. The chest of drawers is from Mom’s side, whether English or American I do not know. By the way, we never pass food through that window.


Down the hall, Mom’s chaise longue in the master bedroom. She’s set up a similar perch in every house she’s lived in since, um, 1965 at least. Swedish folk art on the walls, mohair throw on the chaise.


Let’s go upstairs. How about one of the the guest rooms? Or at least its wall? Framed Alice in Wonderland illustrations.


And bedding? I rather like the lace shams against a green and gray-blue floral duvet.



From the other guest balcony, one can survey Mom’s planters. They are somewhat meager these days, the drought regulations prevent outdoor water usage. Usually they’re full of hibiscus, geraniums, and sage.


And down the Hall of Infamy, another shot of our family photos by the dozens. A gallery wall, I guess we call it now.


Among the pictures, one of my mother’s mother, who we called Grandmama, sitting by the fire with little blond Mom and her brother and sister.


That really was their dog.

Up one final half flight of stairs, is Mom’s little office. Here she mixes red patterns. The gingham is fading.


And finally, in that same office, the story cabinet. Mom collected curios, and kept them here. The grandchildren were allowed to come and pick one in the evenings, and my mother would make up a story and tell it to them.


Thank you for the photo request. I realize that in the taking, I have also caught the place where I came with my children for more than 20 years. They remember Granny’s house as part of their lives, even though the grownups have grown forgetful. Mom meant to make a home and a space for her whole family, and she did it with a generous spirit and eye.


65 Responses

  1. How lovely to see your mom’s house…I am so enchanted by the story cabinet. Were her stories factual or made up? I think I’d like a combination of the two!
    And that dog…what a charming photograph!


  2. This is a lovely post in every way…full of memories and a snapshot of time passing. I also tell lots of made-up stories to the grandchildren, so I was very touched by your mother’s custom of a unique storytime. Was the picture of Grandmama taken in a family home? I love old homes and family customs revisited. Thanks for sharing.

    1. @E. Jane, Thank you. Your grandchildren are very lucky. I think the photo of Grandmama and her children was in their house, but I really don’t know. I will ask my aunt, I bet she does.

  3. The light Swedish colors do well with the California architecture. I’m always surprised that it isn’t all that warm in California, I imagine the fire and the mohair throw are very cozy.

    1. @RoseAG, Yes, the mix of my stepfather’s Swedish furniture, Mom’s family stuff, and new Southern California artifacts was serendipitous, I think.

  4. Such serenity and order without a whiff of stiffness. I especially like the framed illustrations, ever so mildly askew, like the book! I have noted the white upholstery in LR; your mother must have very well-behaved grandchilddren!

    1. @Duchesse, Yes, I thought about straightening the illustrations, but decided, “Why?” And there’s a playroom off the kitchen, carpeted in old orange shag:). Shenanigans happen there.

  5. I love the idea of the cabinet of curios, and that the children are welcome to pick an item that would have a story told about it. No doubt a sense of wonder and much imagination would be ignited from that very act.

  6. I love your mom’s chaise! I dream of having a bedroom large enough to do that someday. And the Swedish furniture is lovely (Guest bedroom, too, right?) what a wonderful memory to have of the “story cabinet.”

  7. What a wonderful house! And I love the family photos and paintings, and the framed Alice illustrations. I looked at the earlier posts, too. I’m in awe of your writing. I feel as though I’ve been lost in another world for a time. Now back to my own (scientific) writing.

  8. luff it all esp the chandelier and the photo of your Mum with her mum and siblings is divine.

    Re decluttering I don’t have a garage so stuff goes from my home straight to the salvos. Putting stuff you don’t need in a garage is not decluttering, it’s hoarding! The thought of a garage filled with stuff I don’t want in the house makes my blood run cold.

    Luff your interiors posts xxx

    1. @Faux Fuchsia, I have to STAGE stuff for disposal, in the garage. Some stuff needs to be thrown away, some donated, some kept for my kids. I’m not hoarding, I’m just organizing for optimal decluttering:). And I will do it – my best friend and I are working on scheduling a date!

  9. Your mother has managed to mix several different styles to create such a beautiful and welcoming home. I love that it isn’t overly decorated or contrived, which ultimately makes it true “high wasp” style. The Santa Barbara setting is breathtaking. My pet peeve is a beautiful home set in a mediocre landscape (not that all homes require THAT setting). And yes, damn that chandelier…it’s the icing on the cake like a great pair of shoes!

    1. @Janey Ann, Ha! Shoes and chandeliers forever:). I agree, it is in no way overly contrived – so much was already in their possession when they moved in.

  10. Oh, I love this Lisa! The fine with the folk art. And how touching that making a place for family was a goal for your mother. I love everything about this house–the views, the furnishings and the sentiment.

    1. @Susan, Thank you. I think these mixes of fine and folk happen naturally with a strong aesthetic, travel, and the means to acquire quality. Maybe?

  11. Ooh, a chaise! I’ve yearned for one for years (like about 20+ years so far). Maybe I’ll end up getting on in our new house…

    Lovely photos, thanks for sharing.

  12. Just so beautiful in every way possible. It reminds me so much of my mother’s home in Montecito, just substitute some of the colors, and American folk art for Swedish. Even the view is the same. The grandchildren in my family will be very sad when the house has to be sold as it will inevitably some day. Thanks for sharing such personal photos and stories.

  13. Thank you for allowing us to poke around in your mother’s home, and please tell her thank you, also. I can feel your mother’s, and Santa Barbara’s, sensible and quiet elegance. I often made up stories for our children, who are about the same age as yours. When I’d be mid-sentence and hit a story teller’s block, their enraptured eyes would spur me on. The idea of having them choose an object is fabulous.

  14. Thank you for sharing your mother’s home with us, it is such a treat. The story cabinet is such a lovely thing, it reminds me of my great-grandmother telling us stories based on things around her house, although she did not have a curio cabinet that I recall.

  15. I am so delighted to see more of your mother’s home and thank you so much!
    I particularly like the dining space with the wood table, silver candle sticks and blue and white bowl in the centre.
    Your mother’s mementos, family photographs, artwork, coupled with a bit of one’s history come together so beautifully here….I’d love to wander through these rooms.
    As a grandchild it would be pure magic…
    something special for the memory book.

  16. The chaise corner is beautiful and that corner cabinet on the wall above the chaise is exquisite. I could spend a long time in that corner.

    It looks like a lovely house to spend time in.

  17. Charming home. Style yet lived in. Love the painting in the dinning room. I also love thefeeling of Northern Eupropean decoration. Everyone needs a chasie Lounge in their bedroom. We need it but may not have one. I wonder how many people do these days. Love the photos. Thanks for posting.

  18. Absolutely charming! How gracious of your mother to allow you to share her home with your readers. Her home looks so lovely and welcoming. I love that they raised the height of the loveseat for your stepfather – it shows that real people live here and comfort above all else, although the house is beautiful nevertheless.

  19. I forgot to mention that I just returned from spending 10 days in your beautiful city of San Francisco, including 2 nights at the Bardessono in Napa Valley. My favorites were the Saturday Farmers Market at the Ferry Building and touring City Hall. Dined at Boulevard per Chronica Domus’ recommendation as well as at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, where the diner at the next table brought his own wine decanted into a crystal ship’s decanter! I didn’t know you could do that but apparently you are allowed. Walking around and enjoying all the fabulous architecture was amazing. The weather was sunny and mild, not a drop of rain. I think I left my heart in San Francisco!

    1. @Jane, You hit the good spots! And, City Hall, I got married there, on the 4th floor:). The not a drop of rain bit is tough though, we’re really hurting and no end in sight:(

    1. @Flwjane, Oh, I can’t hold a candle to Mom when it comes to houses. I can only try, learn and try again. But I can tell stories, so yes, a point of connection.

  20. How this made me so nostalgic and homesick. I was so very close to my paternal grandparents and going to their house was magic. Thank you for triggering all that in me today. They have been gone a long time now, but I miss them each and every day.They are still with me and I often wish I could still ask their advice.

    1. I’m sorry they are lost, but glad their memory stays with you. My guess is that you often know exactly what advice they’d give you and it’s the sound of their voices that’s missing. xoxox.

  21. I love, in no particular order: the DIY furniture adjustment (my parents do that too!), the VIEW, the fact that the big bowl in the dining room is full of ephemera (mine is too!), the chaise, the little wooly sheep in the guest room and the curio cabinet full of stories!

    Thank you, and your Mom & Step-dad.

  22. Oh this is beautiful, your mum’s house is so chic. I love the idea of Casual Elegance meets Swedish Folk Empire – sadly, my family home is more Nicknackery on a Northern Council Estate.

    1. Aw, as long as it is happy. I’ve had to separate my mom’s good taste from my idea of love all my life. Not always easy.

  23. Without doubt, one of my favourite posts. Thank you and your mom/step father for such a loving tour of their home. I adore the light, the mix of clean lines with gold/crystal and precious details. I shall be referencing this post as it’s very timely. We are in the whirlwind that is buying a house and my goals are the same – a loving home for all the family, enough space for friends and hopefully our retirement.

  24. I love your mothers house. We live in Stockholm and it’s style and dignity really spoke to me. I meet and did a design project for an amazing stylist/designer called Martine Colliander. We traded work for 2 Gripsholm Arm chairs slip covered in white linen that I cherish.

Comments are closed.