Every once in a while a store comes along that has the potential to change everything. Cabana Home, Caroline and Steve Thompson’s new home furnishings store, may do just that, by casting off preconceptions about indoor and outdoor home furnishings and textiles.

A visit to Cabana Home is like a shopping experience usually reserved for professional designers, minus the LA traffic and credentials. Home furnishings and designer lines such as Baker, Donghia, David Sutherland, Blanc d’Ivoire and Ecole Furniture from France sit side-by-side with Cabana Home’s own collection of custom-made upholstery. Enchanting estate sale finds of garden antiques, English tea caddy’s and centuries old engravings, are juxtaposed with newly discovered and weather-resistant offerings of terrace furnishings, lamps, rugs and one of the largest collections of indoor and outdoor fabrics and pasmentary to be found in California.

I found many surprises at Cabana Home – the feel of new outdoor fabrics, with textures, patterns and colors fresh and perfectly suitable for our Santa Barbara outdoor lifestyle; the gallery-like look of the sleek shop, with its 14-foot ceilings, coming in off of a street with mostly warehouses and quansa huts; and Caroline Thompson’s down home hospitality that is as authentic as her charming Southern drawl.

Caroline and Steve took an old 3,200-square-foot warehouse on lower Santa Barbara Street that had been divided into rabbit warren workshops and its adjoining storage yard, and they transformed it into a light, open and sophisticated showroom while maintaining the area’s warehouse character.

Nestled between Highway 101 and the ocean, this area is a colorful, diverse community; a city within a city that is home to an eclectic mix of luxury condos, caterers, art galleries, eateries and light industry. It is, if you please, Santa Barbara’s own version of SoHo warehouse/loft chic.

Cabana Home features 3,600 square feet of showroom space, and private off-street customer parking with a garden area Palm Court that comprises an additional 4,000 square feet. They also have a 1,000-square-foot warehouse directly across the street from the showroom.

The “Great Reveal,” as the design lingo goes, takes place on the evening of May 4 when the Thompsons plan to host more than 300 invited guests, including Santa Barbara’s design cognoscenti, a splash of Hollywood and art supporters.

Meet the Thompsons

The design duo met while working at Neiman Marcus in Dallas, where they learned first hand from Stanley Marcus that “service is everything.” Grounded in a retail background, Steve followed a successful career in real estate brokerage. Together, Steve and Caroline continued their shared love of collecting contemporary art and pursued their talent for designing informal, elegant residential properties through their own development company. They were both active in the community and were especially fond of the Dallas Museum of Art, where they began a young collectors group.

They said they weren’t looking for a new career when they moved to California with their daughter Mary Caroline and began remodeling a home in Montecito, but that is exactly what they found. “It was frustrating not to be able to find the items we envisioned, in our own hometown,” Steve says. “We travel extensively to buy for our own home furnishing needs, and realized that if we had a need for a wider selection of home décor items, then others must as well.”

Caroline adds with a smile, “They say when you find a need, fill it, and so that is how Cabana Home was born.”

It’s a need that may need constant filling. “We wanted a store where customers could come in and feel comfortable looking around, where they can see offerings that are unique and that a real effort has been made to bring the best in design to Santa Barbara,” Steve says. “Our pieces are transferable from showroom to life.”

The husband and wife design team have built or redesigned 28 homes in Dallas, Santa Fe and Santa Barbara. Through the years their creations have been featured on the covers of national design publications.

The Thompsons have spent the past year traveling and searching for items that perfectly capture the essence of Santa Barbara life. They’ve selected hard-to-find, one-of a-kind furniture, textiles and accessories from designers and manufacturers in America and Europe. Their unique eye in sourcing out eclectic finds and unusual combinations will all be brought together in “petits arrangements” within the store.

In addition, Caroline and Steve are actively involved in the Santa Barbara community – Caroline with Domestic Violence Solutions, and Girls, Inc., and Steve at All Saints by-the-Sea Episcopal Church and the Montecito Home Owners Association. Both work tirelessly for the University Art Museum at UCSB and for the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the beneficiary of a percentage of Cabana’s opening weekend proceeds.

With Santa Barbara’s love affair of interior design that appeals to varied and international tastes, this will be the first stop for seeing what’s new in the design world. This store should be on every design aficionado’s list of places to shop regularly, have a coffee and see the week’s new arrivals.

Cabana Home is located at 111 Santa Barbara Street between Highway 101 and the ocean. After its grand opening on May 4, it will be open Monday through Saturday, from 10 am to 6 pm, and by appointment.