Free-flower-power-spirit here meets craftsmanship know-how and falls squarely within the aesthetic sensibility of California’s sweet spot. ‘There’s a sense of decompression when you walk onto the property. You can feel your blood pressure drop. That’s followed by a swell of inspiration – to surf, make music, cook, and generally commune with nature – when you move through the courtyard, into the house, and out onto the deck overlooking the water,’ says the homeowner.
Dreaming of a home that fit naturally and sustainably into its beachy, eclectic locale and unassuming neighbourhood, the owners were aware of the feel and scale of the surrounding structures, as well as being well-versed on the nuances of the site.
The orchestrated interior mix encompasses signature pieces by established California masters set alongside works by a younger generation of West Coast talents, including Tanya Aguiñiga, Doug McCollough, and Estudio Persona.
For a dash of continental air, that Cali-centric roster is accented with elegant additions such as Gerrit Rietveld Utrecht chairs sheathed in Hermès wool, Josef Frank textiles, and lighting by Paavo Tynell and Ignazio Gardella.
Like the furnishings, the art program exudes fresh, cool vibes, with a particular emphasis on female artists as well as work influenced by 1960s and ’70s West Coast skate and surf culture.
One of the highlights of the collection is a textile piece by Kira Dominguez Hultgren, hanging above the bed in the master suite, which incorporates fragments of the dress that the wife was wearing when she first met her future spouse and the shirt her husband wore at their wedding.
The life-force of the house resides in the Monterey cypress that lines its walls, floors, and cabinetry. Says the husband: ‘It feels like we’re living inside a fine piece of furniture, crafted by artisans at the top of their field. I love to lie on the couch and just let my eye trace all the details.’ And his wife wraps that dream-like tone up by adding: ‘We don’t think about the house as a place. It’s an experience. It’s peace. It feeds our souls.’
Subject to a 100-year geologic setback requirement and the CA Coastal Commission, a site-sensitive solution that respected both the coast and the community became a design focus. The home is sited as a wind break: the rear yard and deck capitalise on ocean views, while the entry and front courtyard, tucked behind two separate structures (a customised surfboard storage unit and garage), sit where the sun shines most in the winter, acting as a warm, light-filled cloister all year round, protected from the coastal winds.
The architects then enlisted the help of Evan Shivley of Arborica, a sawyer that reclaims and repurposes Native Californian timber, to provide the project with locally sourced interior and exterior cladding. Monterey cypress, a robust, resilient, regal wood, is accustomed to the site’s coastal California climate and when left unfinished, weathers to a sophisticated grey – the wood also therefore quickly becoming a focal point of the home’s design.
The exterior is clad with board and batten slats, setting up an exterior and interior palette present throughout the home. Waste in the milling process and trunk use was minimised by holistically integrating every level of wood grade and their respective quantities into the design.
Surf House’s public spaces exploit the indoor/outdoor connection, seamlessly transitioning from the intimate front courtyard to the warm and open great room and kitchen, finally opening up onto the back patio overlooking the sea. Large sweeping doors open to connect the living space to the spacious back deck, which is fitted with an in-ground hot tub and outdoor kitchen perfect for entertaining visiting family and friends.
Upstairs, as the home transitions from public to private, Monterey cyprus dissolves into plaster, diversifying the palette and drawing attention to carefully designed architectural details. Thoughtfully placed windows weave surprising glimpses of blues and greens into the earth-toned interior finishes. The master bedroom features floor to ceiling glass walls facing the waves, opening onto a private balcony with views of surfers below.
- completed: September 2019
- location: Santa Cruz, CA
- size: 417 square metres
- architecture: Feldman Architecture
- landscape architect: Ground Studio Landscape Architecture
- interior design: Commune Design
- sawyer: Arborica
- art consultant: Allison Harding
- photography: Joe Fletcher