AnnaMaria Stephens 2015-02-21 02:31:55
HIGH LIFE A NEW DEL MAR MESA HOUSE BREAKS FREE OF MEDITERRANEAN MOLDS, PAYING HOMAGE TO MODERNISM FROM ITS HILLTOP PERCH. When you build a house on top of the world—or at least perched high on a hill above San Diego’s picturesque Del Mar Mesa—panoramic vistas are a given. But this house does it one better. A modern standout among the neighborhood’s Mediterranean usual suspects, the home is as worthy of stares as its spectacular surroundings. The homeowners, a civil engineer and retired marketing exec, initially approached architect Mark Silva (silvastudios.com) with a different vision in mind for their empty lot in Del Mar Mesa. Bordered by Rancho Santa Fe and Carmel Valley, the semirural community— which includes 900 acres of protected open space—features multimillion-dollar properties and large swaths of land crisscrossed by horse-riding trails. Spanish architecture—like the nearby and oh-so-opulent Grand Del Mar resort—tends to be the default. “It’s an area with a lot of Santa Barbara-style homes,” Silva says. “But once they explained what they wanted out of their dream house and I saw the site and fantastic views, I suggested that something more contemporary would fit the lifestyle they were trying to create.” Among the couple’s biggest wishes? Expansive windows, an open layout, soaring ceilings and seamless indoor-outdoor living spaces. Silva knew exactly where to turn for inspiration. “I grew up in a post-and-beam William Krisel house up on Mount Soledad that I thought was so cool,” says the architect, who has become San Diego’s go-to source for restoring classic midcentury modern houses to aesthetic splendor while incorporating new technologies and finishes. “I truly understand the lifestyle, and I’m trying to modernize the modern,” he adds. For the Beach House—named for its residents, not a nonexistent ocean view—Silva called on familiar touches, from the striking cantilevered roof to the warm, organic mix of wood and stone cladding. Set into the gently sloping site in steps, the airy home wraps around a 2,000-square-foot courtyard. An eye-catching gate with a substantial brass circle, fabricated by local artisan Zoran, serves as a front door while keeping the home’s visible spaces private from view. “I tend to lean a little Asian,” says Silva, who follows in the footsteps of midcentury modernists—admirers of Japanese design in particular. “The circle balances all the geometric angles.” Paved in a mix of flagstone and acidwashed concrete, the ample courtyard features a built-in fire pit, outdoor kitchen and plenty of seating. Large glass doors slide open to connect the interior rooms to the outdoors. “The glass is strategically located so that when you’re in the courtyard, you can see through the entire house to the best views of the mountains and city lights at night,” says Silva. The sun even sets through the opening of a jutting wing wall, which is wrapped in Sunny Beach, a sandstone veneer. The earthy color calls to mind the sandstone bluff s at nearby Torrey Pines and complements the clear red cedar that clads sections of the exterior. Silva, who worked closely with interior designer Anita Dawson (dawsondesigngroup.com) and McCullough Landscape Architecture, Inc. (mlasd.com) from the project’s start, continued the stone inside, where it contrasts with a variety of wood tones, from the gleaming chestnut floors to the pale rift-sawn white oak kitchen cabinets. Unique features abound, like a Zen garden off the master bedroom and bath that is shielded from the courtyard with a suspended piece of sculptured glass, custom-made by San Diego’s Cast Glass Images. Translucent but textured, it allows light through but not prying glances. In the garden and beyond, the homeowners splurged on lush coastal-desert landscaping, which lends pops of color to the neutral palette and connects the home to the 2-acre site. The vertical fireplace in the great room solves a problem that’s plagued designers since the advent of the flat-screen TV. “People always want to stack them,” says Dawson. “And then you have two big black holes when they’re not in use, and it’s never proportional.” Instead, Dawson and Silva placed them side-by-side and used one of the architect’s favorite accent materials—ipe wood, which also lines niches in the courtyard—to create a recessed backdrop that anchors the room. “Every time you see a feature like that, it repeats itself,” says Dawson. “It makes the whole house feel very comprehensive.” And although the modern Beach House doesn’t look like a standard Del Mar Mesa build, there’s never been a hint of dissent from the neighbors. “The owners get so many compliments,” Silva says. “They’re very proud.”
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