The owners of this coastal Carpinteria house had a couple of simple interior design requests: among them - go easy on the blue.
"It's funny, because when you think of a beach house, you often think of blue," said Santa Monica-based interior designer Tim Clarke, who worked on the house with architect Mary Andrulaitis. "But the client doesn't really like the color, so we tried to avoid it."
The two-story vacation house encompasses some 4,500 square feet of living space, with a 670 square foot guest house. The neighborhood, located between the Pacific Ocean and a salt marsh preserve, is largely a mix of older, small California beach cottages and newer and more spacious homes that have the same traditional forms and coastal feel, said Andrulaitis, partner at Carpinteria-based Neumann Mendro Andrulaitis. "The exterior aesthetic of the home was driven by the coastal/wetland location, the neighborhood context, and the owners' desire for a traditional East Coast feeling.
"We mixed the board-and-batten siding with shingles, all painted monochromatically, to add some varied texture and help further break down the massing of the long, linear structure. The warm, gray paint color helps the home quietly setle into the site. To keep the feeling of the home clean and simple, we simplified, and therefore modernized, a lot of the more traditional detailing."
Andrulaitis created an open-plan living/dining/kitchen space conducive to an indoor-outdoor lifestyle befitting of a coastal retreat. The first floor holds a free-flowing communal space as well as three bedrooms for the owners' children and guests. The upper level, however, is much more private.
"The second floor master suit occupies the entire second floor - a place for the owners to retreat in privacy, and get away from the activity downstairs," said Andrulaitis. "The master bedroom and adjoining ocean deck have that same feeling and expansive overlook of the sand, ocean, and distant Channel Islands."
Beyond that, the vision was to create a sanctuary of sorts, a warm and welcoming family-friendly home that would celebrate the striking setting; the house also overlooks the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve and Santa Ynez mountains, and a rocky sea wall separates it from the beach. While spacious, Clarke wanted it to feel cozy.
"Even if it was just the parents there for the weekend, I didn't want it to feel like a giant house where they are wandering around waiting for everyone to show up," he said. "And the sense of being lured between the indoors and the outdoors was one of the first things we talked about. When you open the doors, it feels like an extension of the outdoors. The design focused not only on the indoor/outdoor aspect, but also about family. The large communal room encourages spending time together, cooking, eating, lounging, thinking, playing and actually living with each other instead of hiding in your room."
Clarke, who had designed the family's primary home, adhered to a color scheme of easy neutrals and fuss-free materials. The family has three dogs that traipse in and out. The floors are in French oak finished in a matte open grain finish inspired by driftwood, close to the color of sand, so it is extremely forgiving to the indoor outdoor beach life.
"Low maintenance materials are used without sacrificing texture, pattern, style, warmth, or quality but to actually enhance the lives of the residents and their guests," said Clarke. "I am always inspired by nature, and the sense of place, and the palette here is directly taken from the coastal rocks, sand, and sky that surround the property."
Another important design directive - the quest for light, said Clarke.
"We added skylights and Mary popped up the roof in the master bedroom to capture not only the light, but the expansive view of ocean and sky. Surfaces are painted white with a bit of sheen to reflect light as where the materials used, such as the white 'cloud' tile on the walls of the master shower."
Ultimately, said Clarke, the property needed to embody the ideals of a beach house, the point of which is "more about the idea of simple spaces, that verge on minimal, that allow for life to happen.
"There is room for the inhabitants to actually "live" in the spaces without unnecessary clutter undermining serenity," he said. "This idea does not sacrifice style, and feels equally as comfortable and cozy with two people or twn. I believe our houses provide a new kind of wellness, where ease and comfort are part of the design."