A Study in Courtyards With This Luxurious Santa Barbara Estate in Preston Hollow

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Santa Barbara Estate

“A courtyard, to me, is the best thing in life,” architect David Stocker said. “It’s an intimate space. It’s not quite inside the house, but it’s part of the house.” The culture of the courtyard is what inspired Stocker to design this luxurious Santa Barbara estate in Preston Hollow for Jane and Mike Nicolais.

Courtyards have been around since dwellings began. They are found in every corner of the world, and there’s a reason for their popularity. They provide the things we want most: security, privacy, light, air, and tranquility.

“A big house can be thought of as a village with connecting pieces,” Stocker, principal of SHM Architects, said.

This Santa Barbara estate, at 9946 Rockbrook Drive, is 7,722 square feet with four bedrooms, four bathrooms, and two powder baths. It’s easy to see the analogy. Award-winning builders Manning, Snelling & Mcllyar worked with Stocker to bring this village to life in 2001 when Stocker was at Turner, Boaz and Stocker.
Santa Barbara Estate

Stocker brought in texture with Pennsylvania hand-hewn barn timber, stained Douglas fir, and limestone.

“I love the stone pattern in this house,” Stocker said. “There is a complete art to laying stone.”

You enter this luxurious Santa Barbara estate through the gorgeous central courtyard and cross to the front door. When you are inside, you must look up everywhere you go, because the ceiling detail is beyond belief. The dramatic vaulted great room shares the same Pennsylvania timbers you see in the hall and has an enormous floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace.

Santa Barbara Estate

Santa Barbara Estate


The dining room is what Stocker refers to as a connective space. “You look out onto not just one, but two courtyards, Stocker said. “It’s one of the best rooms in the house!”


Santa Barbara Estate

The same Pennsylvania timbers connect the kitchen and breakfast room, which is beautifully divided by a limestone wall. Appropriate updates have been made over the years, so the home looks as if it were only recently constructed. However, remember one of the many qualities of an architect-designed home is that they are timeless. This Santa Barbara estate takes inspiration from classic homes that have been around for centuries. It’s the reason we are drawn to them. They speak not only to tradition, but also to ease of living.

The rough-hewn ceiling treatments continue into the study.

That ease of living hits home when you reach the master suite. One glance at the classic Waterworks copper soaking tub set against that stone wall will have you reaching for your phone to call your banker!

Cast glass windows, in a progression from greens to blues, were inserted into the limestone wall.

The house is flawless, of course, but the courtyards and grounds will capture your heart. This Santa Barbara estate is nestled into over an acre of beautifully landscaped lawns and manicured gardens designed by Romeaux Landscape Company. The resort style pool is essentially another courtyard. It’s anchored at one end by a vine-covered pergola. Covered porches run along two sides providing plenty of space to rest and relax.



Jane and Mike had raised organic beds installed, and Jane designed the elaborate chicken coop.

As if that’s not enough, the property has a sizable guest house over the three-car garage and a sports court!

The principal of a home’s design story does not change. You want to draw people through it, enticing them to venture into the next space. This Santa Barbara estate tells a lovely story. It not only says, “Hey look at me,” it also says, “Sit down awhile, stay, and enjoy.”

Compass listing agent Amy Detwiler has this timeless classic at 9946 Rockbrook Drive listed for $5.799 million.

Broker Open: Tuesday, April 9, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Karen Eubank is the owner of Eubank Staging and Design. She has been an award-winning professional home stager and writer for over 25 years. Karen teaches the popular Staging to Sell class and is the creator of the online course, The Beginners Guide to Buying Wholesale. Her love of dogs, international travel, history, white paint, champagne, artificial turf, and Tudor and Midcentury Modern homes, and any house designed by Clifford Hutsell knows no bounds. Her father was a spy, so she keeps secrets very well! Find Karen at www.eubankstaging.com



Karen Eubank

Karen is the owner of Eubank Staging and Design. She has been an award-winning professional home stager for more than 25 years and a professional writer for over 20 years. Karen is the mother of a son who’s studying for his masters at The New England Conservatory of Music. An ardent animal lover, she doesn’t mind one bit if your fur baby jumps right into her lap.

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