sneak peek: zelen home



now that memorial day has come and gone, i think we’re all ready for another vacation, and the home of dan zelen of zelen home seems like the perfect place right about now. dan splits his time between LA (near the shop) and san francisco where he is a senior interior designer at martha angus. but he and his partner have always gravitated to santa barbara where they recently purchased and renovated this home in a town called montecito (the 1940s home is not typical of the area) for weekends and occasional rentals (that’s what happens when you split locations). it’s the perfect getaway for them with ocean and mountain views from every room, and the added charm of the active railroad that races up and down the coast a few times a day (which they love, but probably deterred other potential buyers from completely tearing down the place for a mega mansion). he describes their style as a mix of new and old – much like the tone of their shop. click here more images of their weekend getaway home! [thanks, dan (and mike for coordinating)!] -anne

[above: The house has great decks on the ground level and upper levels.]



The lanai is a bright happy room, I used big rattan furniture linen pillows and hand made cashmere throws. The tole tray is from the Alameda flea market and the glass screen is made from 10’ tall turn of the century glass library cabinet
doors I found from UC Berkeley that are hinged together. We hang out in this room the most with the doors open, the breeze coming through and watch the Amtrack Surfliner race through the back yard a few times a day going each way up and down the coast… the sound makes your mouth drop and its gone within seconds

The railroad races past the backyard transforming the peaceful lull of the ocean wave sounds into a rush of steel and wind…in seconds it is gone and the peace is returned. For the first few times the train passed my jaw dropped in awe and excitement as the train flew by. It is a wonderful sound to hear the whistle and feel the motion of such a huge thing go by you. We absolutely love this thing going through the back yard and friends take the 2 hour trip from LA to come up for the weekend and love it.

I dried seaweed from the beach here in Montecito and framed them in vintage frames to hang in the upstairs bedrooms. I was intrigued with trying to make what I could for the house as opposed to just buying everything. This is one on the results.


our little love nest

I love the tray in the lanai room. The backyard is gorgeous. Love the idea of the train’s interruptions to the soft lull of the ocean sounds. It all sounds like a wonderful getaway.


I happened to see your post about Zelen and wanted to make a correction. Not sure where you got your info, but Mike Andrews is the current owner of Zelen Home and my friend Dan Zelen is the one who now lives in San Fran and who’s Santa Barbara home is pictured in your post.


I know I’ve seen those pillows (or that fabric) before, and I’d love to know where to get them, please… thank you


What a stylish home! I love the last photo…just beautiful design work..


I love the painting above the couch in the main living area…is that zoe pawlak? Your home is beautiful!


Montecito is my dream town. I love the idea of the train blowing past each day. Lucky ducks!

Jesse Lu

Um. Does anyone else feel like this is a little wicker overload? I love all the different wicker styles but one or two pieces of each would be more than sufficient to make a statement. Or maybe try not matchy matching everything, incorporate some of the wicker pieces into the modern sets and vice versa. And for goodness sake, do something about the tacky shell-collage accents… they aren’t cutting it. I do love your lighting choices however. The dining pendant is fabulous and the wooden table lamps on the lanai are totally neat. Also, totally dig the bare bones of the places, that wood paneling is to die for.


hi Jesse lu,
Yes there is a lot of wicker right now but we had it and I used it. The only place I will remove it from is the dining area as it doesn’t work for me either but I had it. The shell mirror looks great in person and when your other half makes it you gotta go with it sometimes as a happy home is a happy home. Thanks for the honesty of your comments and I had my reasons for doing what I did …there is something to be said for getting in with what you have and then when you find the perfect solution whatever you get it. The house, as our lives, evolves.


for Jenn,

The fabric on the pillows is by Kelly Wearstler for Schumacher with simple linen backs.

for Cara,

The painting in the living room is huge and has no signature on it, it reminds me of a Yes album cover by Roger Dean.

Jesse Lu

Hi Dan,

I so totally understand about the “when the person you love made it” conundrum. Please don’t tell her or him what I said! ;) And really, I do love the wicker… I forget that these ‘Speak Peaks’ and ‘House Tours’ belong to real people, too, with real budgets and constraints to work within. I’m so used to the Eammes-everything tours we’ve been seeing so much of recently, and actually, your home was a great relief from that. Thanks for sharing.


Dear Jesse Lu,

I wont take offense against your comments about my tacky shell mirrors….I have tough skin!!!

Still, if you could see the quality of my workmanship up close, I think you’d be surprised!!

And I agree with you on the wicker…the dining chairs are next to go!!