Originally from the San Fernando Valley, Diane Sassen moved to Carmel in the early 1970s. She began working for Michael Nesmith (a member of the band The Monkees) who was filming Pop Clips – precursors to modern music videos. Through her time in the film industry, Diane met her husband Stephen. Together, they moved to Canada, raised two children, and eventually made their way to Montecito in 2002. It was not long before Diane found the Casa, volunteering to help at events, becoming a docent, and co-creating the widely popular summer art event.
“The first time I walked through the Casa’s front door, I felt like I had stepped into another world,” said Diane. “I have a real connection to this place. In some ways, the Casa is everything to me.”
The 11-acre property is home to beautiful garden spaces including a cutting garden, which provides fresh flowers and foliage used to create flower arrangements around the estate. Today, Diane is an integral part of the flower arranging volunteer team, whose artful designs bring a little something extra to the docent-led tours. She works closely with her friend, Gina Jannotta, who Diane credits for teaching her much of what she knows about flower design.
“Diane is one of the most thoughtful, creative, and fun people I know,” said Gina. “Being her friend and working with her on the flower arrangements at the Casa has been a real joy.”
Diane is grateful for the connection she has to Montecito’s local history – one she received through the history, art, and architecture of the Casa. Her time at the estate has afforded great memories and friendships. She sometimes thinks about moving away but her love of the community and the Casa is more than enough to keep her in place.
“The Casa is special. It is hard to describe because there is nothing else like it,” said Diane. “Seeing the Casa for the first time changed my life, and it continues to change my life in so many positive ways. It opened a window to this beautiful world I never knew existed.”