Mar Monte Hotel: Beleco Reviving a Santa Barbara Icon

Los Angeles-based interior design firm Beleco recently revealed the result of an ambitious task consisting of remodeling a Spanish revival beachfront hotel, which opened its doors along the coast in 1931.



In Santa Barbara, the Mar Monte Hotel Starts a New Chapter of Its Life Thanks to a Recently Completed Renovation That Honors the Past While Looking to the Future

With its five individual buildings influenced by Colonial architecture and art deco, the Mar Monte Hotel in Santa Barbara is a jewel that needed to be both preserved and revived. Original features such as the grand staircase and the painted beams were naturally protected by the Beleco team, who looked at the DNA of the property as the starting point for their intervention to bring it back to its former glory.

“The rough stucco on the exterior and the textured plaster walls and ceilings on the interiors made clear that the design had to embrace the quirky and less refined qualities,” says Christian Schnyder, principal at Beleco.

“The material and color selections were chosen to work with what existed, rather than trying to force the building into something it could not become.”

Character and authenticity prevail throughout, including in the guest rooms adorned with Moroccan-inspired carpets as a reference to the Moorish influence of Spanish colonial architecture, among other elements.

In the poolside Café Lido, the Moroccan zellige tiles also celebrate the hotel’s past while hanging plants introduce fresh touches.

“Located in what used to be the main entrance, the iconic arches and ceiling are part of the building’s original architecture and now act as a stylish focal point to expose its significant history,” describes Christian Schnyder, who also used custom hand-painted murals depicting local flora and fauna, as well as “pencil sketch” floor tile to evoke an artist’s studio.

Situated in what was a dining room in the 1930s, Costa Kitchen & Bar—an independent restaurant within the Mar Monte Hotel—was also transformed by Beleco, who took cues from Italy‘s Amalfi Coast to “bring a taste of the Mediterranean to the California coast” as Christian Schnyder says.

The space was completely reorganized to create different areas that connect to each other, a newly designed patio provides diners with exceptional views of the Pacific Ocean and a large wine room is now part of the intimate restaurant.

“The wire brushed ceiling paneling, white-washed brick walls, and dark hardwood floor add texture and depth,” says Christian Schnyder.

The vibrant yellow chairs and the custom wallpaper with motifs of lemons—an ingredient often found in Mediterranean cuisine—add visual dynamism to the whole. 

With a combination of influences from several eras, all the public and private areas of the Mar Monte Hotel hold surprises at every turn.

“The interiors are an eclectic mix of modern, art deco and Spanish revival,” says Christian Schnyder. “The design unifies the hotel and gave it back its soul, charm, and relevance.”

Christian Schnyder | Beleco |

Photographer: Shawn O’Connor; opposite page: Bethany Nauert


Jensen & Skodvin’s Bold Vision: Juvet Hotel as a Gateway to Norwegian Nature

The Landscape Juvet Hotel, designed by Jensen & Skodvin in northwestern Norway, offers a unique and authentic experience. Owner Knut Slinning's deep connection to the land inspired the sustainable and nature-focused design. This innovative approach to architecture blends seamlessly with the surrounding landscape, creating a truly immersive experience for guests.
  • May 31, 2023
  • Jenn Thornton

Specht Architects: The Modernist Marvel of New Mexico Residence Sangre De Cristo

The New Mexico Residence Sangre De Cristo, designed by Specht Architects, offers a modernist twist on Santa Fe's traditional adobe style. Situated on a hilltop, the house harmonizes panoramic mountain views with the need for shade and climate protection. Specht Architects creatively embraced the region's architectural restrictions while infusing fresh elements.
  • May 17, 2023
  • Jenn Thornton

Sparano + Mooney Architecture Crafts a Sustainable Retreat near Salt Lake City

Designed by Sparano + Mooney Architecture near Salt Lake City, this home seamlessly combines privacy with a connection to the community and nature. With a focus on sustainability and openness, the house features stunning views of the landscape, stylish interiors by cityhomeCOLLECTIVE, and thoughtful design elements.
  • May 17, 2023
  • Karine Monié

JM|A+D and TAP Studio Empowering Women

The former puppet theater located at La Cienega and Melrose Place in Los Angeles has been transformed into a 14,000 SqFt space for powerful women in business. Designed by JM|A+D and TAP Studio for the architecture, and AvroKO for the interiors, the space is designed to encourage collaboration, with spacious and airy rooms that provide the ideal environment for discussion.
  • May 4, 2023
  • Karine Monié

Bruno Gaudin Architectes Redefines the National Library of France with Stunning Renovation

The Bibliothèque Nationale de France, or the National Library of France, located in Paris, is a historic structure that has undergone a modern facelift. The project was carried out by Bruno Gaudin Architectes, and it took 15 years and two phases to complete the renovation of the structure. The library was initially founded during imperial times, and it has survived calamities, including two world wars, and various scattershot repairs.
  • April 19, 2023
  • Jenn Thornton
Sign Up for DIGS Newsletters