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Spanish Staircase Collection 1
Go behind-the-scenes to an exterior Spanish staircase project in Santa Barbara, CA. Transforming ugly concrete steps to a gorgeous Spanish-style showpiece!
In this episode, I highlight a beautiful renovation and expansion of a Riviera home Spanish style staircase. It was one project of many within a larger scope of whole house and landscape renovations.
Many years ago, the house was being sold as a fixer upper. The old staircase (above) was dark and dingy and needed some re-imagining. You can see how some potential buyers may not have had the energy to tackle something like this.
But years later, with careful thought and planning- artistic improvements turned an ugly duckling into a graceful swan. Here, a Santa Barbara painter applies the first coat of black paint to red primer on the iron railings being restored.
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Creating a Spanish style staircase
One of the first steps in re-imagining a beautiful Santa Barbara style Spanish staircase was to remove the outdated tiles adhered to the original concrete steps.
Demo can be like an archeological dig. Sometimes you can discover interesting things, like layers of remodels. Once outdated tiles were removed up by the front door entrance, we found cast concrete steps painted a terra cotta red color. Presumably, some family or painter made it a project- many decades ago.
The homeowner is a professional artist, and we immediately hit it off during our many collaborative design meetings together. Here, we look at thin and thick Terra Cotta clay tiles- new options for the stair treads.
Spanish Staircase Materials + Options
We also discussed the possibility of local Santa Barbara sandstone. We ended up choosing these 6″ x 12″ handmade Terra Cotta clay tiles as the stair treads, and combined them with inexpensive ceramic Spanish deco tiles for the risers.
When designing your own project: Consider mixing a more rustic hand made clay tile with inexpensive ceramic tiles. It is an excellent way to create an Old World look, while keeping within a semi-modest budget.
The original color of the handmade terra cotta clay tiles was more red than desired. With stain, the tile setting crew was able to create a brown red color which looks really nice with deco tiles. You can see the difference between the unstained clay stair treads with the newly stained ones, above.
Above: A wild mix of clay tiles- but all are the same material. Some in the stack were stained and many unstained. The installed ones on the patio in the foreground are not yet stained.
I love the many varieties and personalities within the landscape trades of the Santa Barbara community. One of my favorite things is to arrive at a project site when a busy stone mason crew is hard at work. The rhythmic sounds of steel to stone… as a group of guys chisel away. Dodging stray chips of stone as they fly through the air makes the experience interactive and fun.
Here, a favorite stone mason shapes small sandstone boulders and crafts them into a Santa Barbara sandstone garden wall. A perfect design element to incorporate into any classic Spanish home on the American Riviera.
Take a cruise through any part of Santa Barbara’s Riviera neighborhood and you will see stone walls throughout the many landscapes.
When grading land and property within the foothill neighborhoods of Santa Barbara- sandstone rocks will inevitably be unearthed. Historically, rather than pay to have them removed- Retaining walls, firepits, garden walls and borders are built with them.
These Spanish stairs start at the street, and work their way up through sandstone walls and all the way to the front door. Who said a Stairmaster can’t be beautiful?
Meanwhile, a painter restores the Spanish railing with black paint applied with a paint roller.
Spanish-style products on Amazon, and my project overviews where they were installed.
More Spanish Tile Stairs Photos
I have a lot of great images of this completed Santa Barbara Spanish staircase, but here are some more favorites.
I love these shots- captured on a day when everything seemed to be finally coming together!
A Designer trick for creating classic Santa Barbara style homes and landscapes include using the materials and finishes Santa Barbara is famous for. For yards, this includes local quarried sandstone garden walls, gravel pathways, adding a Spanish fountain and planting a red bougainvillea vine.
The late afternoon sun catches the custom wrought iron railing to cast shadows on to the stairs.
It is always surprising who can be impressed with a high quality Spanish staircase renovation.
Again, lucky to be at the right place at the right time. The details of the newly designed and fabricated custom Spanish railing casts identical shadows on to the clay tile stairs. Another fond memory for a favorite Santa Barbara project.
Well friend, this wraps another site visit episode in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA. I hope you enjoyed learning how to infuse more Santa Barbara Style into your own Spanish home design project with decorative tiles. Scroll to explore more helpful links and resources for designing and building your own Spanish-style home and landscape. You can also visit Episode 3 for an interior Spanish-style staircase project.
* Important Note: I post favorite project photos and design/build information for their Entertainment Value Only. Please consult with your licensed architect, general contractor and local building department for anything related to designing and/or building your own project. Full Disclaimer HERE
Did you know the Jeff Doubét Spanish Home Design Blog started out as a Coffee Table Book? With over 1,000 images- it is expensive, and many people have purchased it worldwide. Thank you Readers for your many kind reviews!