Set in Summerland, Santa Barbara, GARDE House occupies the second level of the retail outlet GARDE shop, where visiting Angelenos can shop till they drop, then recover with a short-term stay at the fully furnished one-bedroom right above it. Maybe pick up the sofa as a souvenir on the way out?
A distillation of the L.A.-born brand, the quintessentially Cali-styled GARDE House exhibits effortlessly elevated design. Attuned to proportion, the “apartment” (perhaps if compared to a McMansion, but at 1,100 square feet, a good-sized bungalow) is exquisitely appointed with contemporary design pieces so that one can see how to curate the aesthetic. Even better, experience how it might feel to live with the environment for a day or two. (Spoiler: It feels great.)
“We wanted to have an extension of the shop/showroom space where we could show our collections in the context of a home,” says John Davidson, co-owner of GARDE with Scotti Sitz. “Of course, the bonus is that guests can purchase everything in the apartment for their own home, as well.” Shop the space and it’s likely to be a spree, because GARDE has all the goods, from furnishings and accents to textiles and gifts.
Both retail and residential spaces are housed in a 1921 barn-style building that is a bit of a showpiece, and key to the overall sensibility of the project. The apartment alone offers a one-bedroom with a living room, dining area, kitchen, bathroom, and outside deck. Look past the contemporary lines and find herringbone white oak flooring meant to evoke an early 20th century European aesthetic, blending eras and styles, not to mention realms.
“We are certainly not the first to combine residential and retail,” says Davidson, “but we believe that our mix of furniture, lighting and accessories is an outstanding presentation of the GARDE brand,” which draws inspiration for its apartment and stores from a wellspring of sources. Of these references, Davidson cites Belgian architects such as Vincent Van Duysen and Nicolas Schuybroek as top of mind.
“I am also constantly inspired by Joseph Dirand and Ilse Crawford, who are masters at giving older spaces a modern feel while remaining true to the architectural integrity of the original space,” he says. “Everything I select for GARDE is something that I would want in my own home.” Which is what makes the apartment cherry-picked perfection.
The location of Summerland was selected similarly. “We used to visit Summerland and were regular customers at the antique store that was housed in our building for 47 years,” says Davidson. Though not looking to expand their brand, when the opportunity presented itself, he and Sitz decided, in the parlance of the design maverick, to “go for it.” The serendipity likely stops here, though, with the Summerland concept the last of the duo’s planned expansions. “Two shops is enough for us” says Davidson, who is focused on refining the brand and bringing new designs to the United States. But customers? Well, we can’t get enough. gardeshop.com
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF SAM FROST