Santa Barbara, California

Situated on a skinny lot at the edge of downtown Santa Barbara, California, architect James Gauer’s 1,500-square-foot Brous-Scherer house is an anomaly in a town known for its code-enforced adherence to the Spanish Colonial style. Gauer’s clients, a couple who moved from New York City (Gauer had designed their Manhattan apartment), wanted to maintain the feeling of their contained, urban life in a California context.

Gauer, who lives in Victoria, British Columbia, worked with the Santa Barbara–based architect of record, Bildsten + Sherwin Design Studio, to devise a two-story woodframe structure covered in crisp-edged stucco. The house is composed of three increasingly smaller, well-proportioned volumes based on a 4-foot grid: The first, a rectilinear bar at the north end of the lot, contains the entry and kitchen; the second, a 16-by-24-foot box, includes the living room and two bedrooms above; and the third and smallest volume provides a loggia that connects the living room to the garden. “I really love the way we managed to squeeze a rather elegant sequence of spaces into a very tight lot,” says Gauer.

After parking in the garage or driveway adjacent to the street, a visitor must walk past the garden, loggia, and living room before reaching the entrance at the far north end of the site; the architect purposefully kept the garden intact with this procession. Gauer invoked Irving Gill’s reduction of the Spanish Colonial vernacular to convince the local review board to approve his design. “They see this kind of harks back to Gill, but they don’t understand that he was mimicking [Adolf] Loos, for whom I’ve always been a complete sucker,” he says. “He stands at that juncture between Classicism and Modernism.”


Mary Lane Scherer and Jim Brous

Completion Date:
May 2011

Gross square footage:
2140 including garage and loggia

Total construction cost:
Withheld at request of owner

Design Architect:
James Gauer Architecture + Design
315-68 Songhees Road
Victoria BC V9A 0A3
Principal in charge: Jim Gauer

Architect of Record:
Bildsten + Sherwin Design Studio
Architecture and Landscape Design   
1311 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara CA 93101
Principal in charge: Susan Sherwin

Structural Engineer:
Joe Padilla P.E.
Pacific Structures (formerly Harris Engineering)                   
P.O. Box 21112, Oxnard CA 93034

Bildsten + Sherwin Design Studio
(See contact info above)

Charles Starner
STAR Lighting Design
300 West 23 Street, #7H
New York, NY 10011
T 212-206-8537


General contractor:
David Chase Construction
1530 Chapala Street
Santa Barbara, CA  93117

Catherine Tighe



Structural system
Concrete slab on grade and wood frame

Exterior cladding
Stucco with integral pigment

Brick paving and plinth: Harmar, Olivewood Mat

Built-up roofing: Synthetic membrane

Wood frame: Loewen

Wood and glass exterior doors: Loewen

Wood and glass interior doors: TruStile

Steel garage door: Doors Are Us

Locksets: Ashley Norton, Challenger 6000

Cabinet Pulls: IKEA Strecket

Architectural Metalwork: Chapala Iron & Manufacturing Co.

Interior finishes
Cabinetwork: Elmwood Thermofoil Gloss (kitchen, living room) and IKEA Abstrakt

Paints: Benjamin Moore

Stone surfaces: Stone Source, Basaltina

Concrete floor: Anti-fracture surface membrane by Bellissimo Architectural

Bath wall tile: Ann Sacks, Metro Crisp Glass

Lounge seating and dining chairs in Living Room: Design Within Reach

Dining table: Custom design by James Gauer.  Fabrication by Oscar Garcia

Dining banquette: Custom design by James Gauer.  Fabrication by Booths R Us

Piano: Yamaha Avant Grand Piano, California Keyboards.

Garden Furniture: Fermob, Luxembourg

Photographs: Patrick Turner

Oil Paintings: Jennifer Scott McLaughlin

Downlights: Lightolier and Nulux

Exterior: Hess America

Dimming System or other lighting controls: Lutron

Energy management: Honeywell

Circulating water in-floor radiant heat system

Solar Power: SunPower 230 Solar Panel System, installed by California Solar Electric.

Ceiling fans: Modern Fan Company, Cirrus.

Other unique products that contribute to sustainability:
In-ground Drip irrigation system with rain sensor, low-water-use plantings

Water permeable paving in motor court

Heat-Smart® Window Systems with argon gas and Low E2 technology