Many months ago when I learned about Santa Barbara Living, I knew come November I would add it to my library since three Michael Smith-designed houses are included in the book. But now that I have one of the gorgeous editions in my hands, I'm finding myself equally drawn to the wonderful lifestyle shots. There's an unexpectedly joyful quality to this tome.
Mixed alongside lush photography of grand turn-of-the-last-century estates are pictures of kids playing in the sun: the American dream at its most ideal.
As you would expect, many of the houses are some incarnation of Spanish-inspired or Mediterranean-style. But look for surprises too, like Jules Allen's sleek modernist house perched above Butterfly Beach, or Bobby Webb's Caribbean Colonial.
Equestrians feature prominently in this book too. It would make a lovely volume to pour over on Christmas day, especially for the garden or architecture enthusiast. I'm trying not to spoil the surprise by sharing too many interiors, but here below is a small taste of the signature Smith style captured in Santa Barbara Living.
All images above © SANTA BARBARA LIVING by Diane Dorrans Saeks and the editors of Santa Barbara Magazine, Rizzoli New York, 2008.
Of course, the ultimate gift for your favorite equestrienne cousin or college friend is the book I mentioned last May: Horse by Kelly Klein. All proceeds from the sales will benefit Equestrian Aid Foundation.
Klein, a passionate horsewoman, wanted to go beyond pretty romantic images -- although some fall in that category -- and convey the strength of her favorite noble creatures. With artistic close-up views of muscles and veins, she shows the athletic, hard-working nature of horses as well as their innate kindness. What struck me as I flipped through the pages is the diverse range of scenes Klein includes, from the most humble to the very affluent.
Image of Jackie in 1967 by unknown photographer © HORSE by Kelly Klein, Rizzoli New York, 2008.
Pony Kid Red Ribbons, 2006, Kathy Russell
Crow Indians, Montana, 1908, Edward S. CurtisImmortal, Lipizzaner Stallion Siglavy Angelica II-1, Carmel, California, 2006, Lynn Rougeau
Kelly with her stallion Louvre, Bridgehampton, Long Island, 2000, photographer unknown