Funk Zone shop celebrates ‘livable luxury’
Cabana Home, which is located at 111 Santa Barbara St., is a mainstay in the Funk Zone.
But there is nothing funky about the upscale home furnishings store and interior design studio that Caroline and Steve Thompson launched in 2006.
“We were here before there ever was a Funk Zone,” said Mr. Thompson, referring to the district between East Cabrillo Boulevard and Highway 101 and State and Santa Barbara streets.
Now the site of boutique tasting rooms, cafes, galleries and shops that cater to Santa Barbara’s contemporary side, the trendy Funk Zone also has converted warehouses and buildings decorated with graffiti murals and contemporary art pieces. Surfboard shapers, winemakers and up-and-coming chefs all practice their crafts here.
“What attracted us was the location and the size of the property. It was close to the freeway and easy to find, and it was 6,000 square feet, which allowed us to have 3,000 square feet for our outdoor furniture and the other half for our indoor home furnishings and interior design studio,” Mr. Thompson told the News-Press.
According to Ms. Thompson, Cabana Home’s goal is to help their clients “define a sophisticated look that is both comfortable and practical. We offer hard-to-find, one-of-a-kind furniture, textiles, lighting and accessories from designers and manufacturers in America and Europe.
“Our signature look is the Santa Barbara lifestyle — a celebration of living seamlessly indoors and outdoors,” she added. “We emphasize livable luxury.”
Every few weeks, the owners send out Eblasts to customers, vendors and others alerting them to special items in the store — an acrylic spray painting on board by Chris Trueman, a set of bone inlay boxes, a woven dot pillow, a chair with ottoman by Milo Baughman, a photograph of root vegetables by MacDuff Everton.
“We find that our customers gravitate to color,” said Mr. Thompson. “They react to the visual rather than taste or hearing. In our store, we group items according to the same color.”
The same idea is carried out in the Eblasts. For example, in July, it was the color of blue. Recipients were invited to “shop the blue hue” because “Who doesn’t love the color of a summer sky? Or a sparkling pool? Or Paul Newman’s eyes?”
During the phone interview, the Thompsons explained why it was a Southern tradition to paint the ceilings of porches light blue like the color of the sky.
“Houses were taxed according to the number of rooms, and the owners wanted to make sure the porches weren’t counted as a room,” said Mr. Thompson.
The couple, who have ended their marriage but remain amicable business partners, were eager to discuss some of the interesting aspects of conducting their business in the time of COVID-19.
“We have had a run on patio umbrellas, which are very hard to find. Restaurants and wine tasting rooms across the country have been buying them for outdoor dining. Fortunately, we have a domestic source that no one else has,” said Mr. Thompson.
“People working from home are realizing what doesn’t work for them. Using the dining table and chairs as an office doesn’t cut it. It’s not a long-term solution.”
Ms. Thompson said, “People are learning to use all rooms in the house, including the outdoor areas. They are reinventing spaces for multiple uses, for example living rooms for offices and outdoor areas for dining and small gatherings. Southern California has the ideal climate for that.”
The Thompsons have been assisting customers with floor plans via Zoom.
“We have a computer program that our staff operates in working with clients. A potential client who is building a home interviewed us on Zoom, and we got the job,” said Mr. Thompson, who is concerned with art and architecture preservation. He sits on the boards of the Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation and Casa del Herrero.
Another service offered at Cabana Home is project management, which is especially helpful for out-of-town clients.
“We are their eyes and ears, working with the local architect and builder, as we do the interior design,” said Ms. Thompson, who is active in the community with organizations like Girls Inc., Ganna Walska Lotusland, Domestic Violence Solutions, Lobero Theatre
Associates and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
Especially noticeable is the influx of people from San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago.
“While working from home during the pandemic, they have discovered that they can live anywhere and keep their jobs,” said Ms. Thompson.
“Santa Barbara has the space, temperate climate, blue skies and sunshine,”