Inspired by Tiled Staircases

By Kate Riley August 5, 2013

Hello all – how was your weekend? It was go go go for us and we got a lot done but  still managed to squeeze in a few hours of lounging-around-the-house time, soaking up the bliss that exists in these last few weeks of summer before it’s back to school and all things fall. 

Last week we traveled back from Southern California on a family vacay, stopping in Santa Barbara for two days and if ever there was a beautiful place to be, Santa Barbara is surely it! It’s a cool coastal scene with a youthful vibe because of the University. SB has the best of everything: great eats, fab shopping, a gorgeous Pacific Ocean view, a mellow hip atmosphere, and stunning architecture around every bend, much of it inspired by the missions of California.

Matt’s favorite architectural style is Mission Revival, he loves the iconic combination of pale stucco, a tile roof, iron fixtures, and porticos, so our long and lingering drive around town was equally as thrilling to my DIY/design eye and it was to his appraisal expertise.

We talk about building that “forever home” someday when the kids are grown, nothing too big, just a sweet and small Mediterranean style villa in Sonoma on a few acres, one where he can putter around on a tractor tending to the orchard and vineyard and I can spend my hours in the garden. I’ve always dreamed of a tiled staircase (it ranks high on our list with a sunroom) and I was so inspired by the many versions I saw while walking around Santa Barbara.

tiled staircase in santa barbara


I absolutely LOVE how these staircases combine symmetry with creativity, blending multiple patterns by riser with steadfast horizontal repetition. There are fountains that repeat this style, rotating tiled patterns in their design too, here are a few more favorite snaps captured on our walk (and drive) around town.

arched entry santa barbara cg


symmetrical staircase santa barbara


tiled fountain


stone and tiled staircase cg


arched door tiled staircase cg


blue tiled staircase cg


curved tiled staircase


tiled side staircase cg


multi tiled staircase santa barbara cg


I’m reminded that great design can always be found online or in print in our favorite shelter magazines with our exposure to it daily with the internet. 

But how true is it that when you take the time to travel to different places and explore the back alleys off the beaten path, inspiring design appears right before your eyes. 



  1. They’re all beautiful, but my favorite is the last one. A little more subtle.

  2. It’s so funny that you posted this today-we were in SB at the end of last week too-taking our teenaged daughter on a tour of UCSB! It is so beautiful there-I hadn’t been in years. And even though I now live in San Diego, which is lovely also, I had forgotten all the tile everywhere in SB. We stopped at some random shopping center in SB to go to a Starbucks during our road trip and even the fountains there were covered with that gorgeous tile. I actually snapped a pic and emailed it to my mom saying, “you know it’s SB when you see all the tile!”

  3. Thank you – I cried looking at these pictures. I know – it sounds sappy, but I grew up in SB and just over the mountain in the Santa Ynez Valley. When I see pictures of those two places, I’m home again. Seems like a world apart from my current location in South Texas but I’m comforted knowing that my family is still there and I still get to go home once a year. SB architecture is my favorite!

  4. I was soooooo excited when I saw your instagrm picture of the tiled staircase last week. I have been talking to my husband regarding doing that to our staircase for months now!!! I am definitely going to do it, specially after seeing all this inspiration. Thank you!

  5. My favorite inspiration is indeed found while wandering! Thanks for the reminder… and for the gorgeous tiles, too.

  6. You should visit Palm Beach! There are some beautiful tiled staircases…especially in the via’s off of Worth Avenue. I wish I could upload a photo!

  7. Hi, I just wanted to tell you that you have EXCELLENT taste. Your place is BEAUTIFUL.

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