On a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a 1980s ranch-style home was dark and cramped and had little connection to its site. This remodel and addition preserved the home’s original layout around a courtyard but broke down barriers between indoors and out, connected each point of the home to ocean views, and created ample space for shared experiences. The result is an open and airy retreat.

At the heart of the home, the sliding glass walls of a combined living and dining space open fully to the west and an infinity edge pool with the ocean beyond, and towards the east opens to the softly landscaped courtyard, tying the two expansive spaces together as one. Updated with a lush Mediterranean plant palette, of dark greens such as Ceanothus, Rosemary and Westringia ‘Mundi’ and pale blues such as Leymus, Lavender and Romneya coulteri the garden calms the spirit and washes away the stresses of the day. The star of the show is a grove of Torrey Pines that stand in opposition to the high coastal cliff and frame views of the Pacific beyond.

The gardens are home to several smaller, more intimate spaces that create an opportunity for respite from hectic lives. These spaces are integrated within the garden and further act to blur the line between indoor and outdoor. Adjacent to the guest wing of the home, an intimate patio is placed within an informal fruit tree grove. The divine scent of spring citrus blossoms and comfy furniture entice residents and guests to spend time enjoying the serenity of the space. Crushed stone pathways entice a visual journey through the garden and connect the space to the larger garden beyond.

For the owners—frequent hosts of parties and charitable events—it was important that their home be a spacious gathering place, with ample opportunities for guest to effortlessly spill out into the gardens. A loggia runs the length of the courtyard, into the common space, and out to the bluff’s edge, where a cantilevered terrace stretches outward toward ocean and sky. At this culmination point, a carved stone firepit designates an inspirational spot to sit and take in the vista. The long, covered porch, with its light steel columns and basalt tile, recalls the garden corridors of Roman villas but is decidedly contemporary in its geometry and material use—as much a modernist pavilion as a classical union with nature.

For moments of privacy, a system of dark metal louvers—keeps sightseers out when necessary and make open spaces within the property more intimate. Dark steel frames around glass walls and windows frame views outward to the gardens, so that even with the doors closed, nature remains a permanent household member.

The home’s materials were carefully selected not only for their visual qualities, but also for their tactile ones; walking off cool grass and onto warm tile forges a connection that is not just seen, but also felt. Passing through the front gate and seeing the ocean on the other side forges a different, equally strong connection.

Location: California, USA

Design year: 2018

Year Completed: 2022


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