Vivez Bien * Live Well

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cape Dutch in America

When I was doing some research on a previous post on Cape Dutch houses, I stumbled across this beautiful example and then to my amazement realized that it was not situated in South Africa, but in California, USA. I was intrigued as to how this style of architecture fairly unique to the Western Cape area of South Africa had made it's way across the Atlantic


This magnificent home, called Constantia, was built in the 1930's. Named after the wine region of Cape Town, South Africa, Constantia arose from the visionary genius of architect, Ambrose Cramer, who designed the pristine estate for his father-in-law, Arthur Meeker, Executive Vice President of Chicago’s Armour meat packing company. Cramer drew inspiration from the Cape Dutch homes that populated the southernmost tip of the African continent. The Meekers believed Santa Barbara and South Africa's Cape held appealing similarities in climate, vegetation, and scenery and commissioned Cramer to recreate the same plantation style amid the beautiful terrain of Montecito. 


The current owner purchased the property in 2006 and began the restoration that resulted in the masterpiece it is today. These small-paned sash windows are usually painted white and the half-shutters are very typical of most Cape Dutch homes.


This home has been impeccably restored and is surrounded by meticulous gardens, broad lawns, and majestic palms. Spectacular views of Montecito Peak rise over the prominent reflecting pond and the shimmering waters of the Pacific Ocean appear beyond the verdant landscape. 




Massive iron gates frame the entrance to the olive-lined drive that fronts the estate, while a swimmer’s pool and spa, a dramatic reflecting pond, and a sunken garden bordered by roses complement the natural beauty that surrounds the home.


The home spans approximately 10,000 square feet of living space and has six bedrooms and nine bathrooms! 

This is the living room as it is today...

and before the restoration with it's more traditional furnishings.

The Cape Dutch style houses very often have wide front and back doors that are directly in line with each other so that one can have a view right through the house to the gardens beyond.

This is the floor plan of the original home before extensions.

The heavy beams are very typical of these homes.

Magnificent dining room.

Beautiful bedroom and what a view!


So, my wonderful American readers, did you know that there was a little bit of my country in yours?

Till next time

Sharon x

Sources : here and here


  1. WOW!!!!!!!! This is utterly gorgeous Sharon. Outside, love how lush and green everything then you step inside and it does not disappoint, like the gift that keeps on giving, its a 10 for me! Love the after, the fresh light, airy and elegant interiors..truly breathtaking!!

  2. Sharon, I didn't know this was the name of this type construction. I've seen it in Mendocino too.
    I thought it was sort of Maine New England so I'm happy to know. This estate is absolutely beautiful, imagine being lucky enough to live there. xx's

  3. What a gorgeous house - and beautifully landscaped! Really lovely.

  4. Stunning home and surrounding property. I used to live about an hour east of there. I miss that area - the beaches, the gorgeous homes, dinning, and shopping.

    The living room is gorgeous!


  5. Hello Sharon

    There is an airy feel to this home. I love it. It has character, without the clutter

    Thanks for sharing

    Helen xx

  6. I am so coming back in my next life rich...;) The house is amazing and those views are to die for!
    Love the new decorating it makes more sense with a house that style.


  7. Sharon,
    Wow! What an amazing home and beautiful on the inside as well as the outside. I've been to Montecito and the climate and surrounding flora and fauna are unmatched...well, maybe except for South Africa, where I've never been. What a fun story you've shared. The details on this home are incredible.

  8. Hi Sharon. It is gorgeous and looks so much like Constantia! My word... Love the gardens as well. Funny about the Harmon post, I think its the second time that we have had a similar idea close to the same time! Great minds and I was hoping to find more of her work to share,,,lol! Looking forward to your post. Are you off to the Vintage Fair at Simondium this weekend?



  9. Sharon this place is breathtakingly beautiful;There is a 5 star spa retreat/hotel feel to this home (my dream!). except it’s home to just a family! how wonderful. it would be amazing to see what it looked like before the owner renovated it. thanks for making me dream...

  10. Hi Sharon, Hope all is well with you. Beautiful home and the views are breath taking.

  11. I just discovered your blog while searching online for examples of Cape Dutch Architecture. I've never seen a more beautiful home than Costantia. Sorry it took me so long to discover your blog!