This greenery-graced hideaway featured on HGTV was designed by USC-trained architect, John Lawrence Pugsley (best known for his mid-century commissions in nearby Pasadena), as part of The Cliffs, a modernist development of “startling originality” built in 1964. In a further expression of the home’s artistic character, the work of Guatemalan muralist Cache adorns a bright interior stairwell, the painter’s signature “Cachickens” delighting visitors with their whimsical shapes and shades.
An open floor plan accentuated by wood floors and skylights is equally suited to elegant entertaining or relaxing, both made even more user-friendly by an updated kitchen with quartz countertops and stainless-steel appliances.
Balconies on both levels open to verdant hillside views — the “montecito” in “Montecito Heights” is Spanish for “little mountain.” Its rugged terrain gives the neighborhood a rural feel only five miles from downtown L.A. and Dodger Stadium. A generous (and low-maintenance) Mangaris Diamond hardwood deck astride the side yard likewise invites communion with nature.
The property boasts not only mature ash, camphor and laurel fig trees (a canopy of shade that helps cool the house) but peach, apple, cherry, orange and lemon varieties. Professionally landscaped with California native and other drought-tolerant plants, the garden provides habitat for wildlife while keeping water and electricity consumption to a minimum with drip irrigation and low-voltage lighting.
From the garden, stroll over to Ernest E. Debs Regional Park, the 282-acre preserve that borders this urban aerie. Debs Park is renowned for its Audubon Center, which provides educational programs and native-plant-restoration projects. Hiking and cycling trails abound. Speaking of Audubon, celebrated for his seminal “Birds of America,” the hooting of Great Horned Owls is one of the few exceptions to the vicinity’s pervasive quiet (Griffin Avenue being its sole major thoroughfare).
Montecito Heights, established in 1910, is also home to the Heritage Square Museum, a living-history destination set in the southern Arroyo Seco area, and was once home to a teenaged Jackson Pollack. The famed abstract expressionist has said he drew inspiration from the local Southwest Museum of the American Indian.
Inspiration is easy to come by in this clean-lined contemporary classic superbly situated in what lucky residents call their “wilderness in the city.”