Before & After: This spacious California beach house was once a weather-beaten seaside cottage
The first thing you notice about this modern house? There are two. A pair of houses designed to function as one. “Fraternal twins”, as the interior designer of the beach house Lucas puts it perfectly.
This huge, seven-bedroom property in Del Mar, Calif., Started out as a tiny beachfront cottage that the owner bought because the location reminded them of New Zealand’s surf beaches.
It was a pretty single storey house clad in wooden planks, which had all the charm one expects from a seaside house. But as the family began to grow, the owners wanted a space where they could all spend time together during vacations and weekends. So when the house across the street went up for sale, they bought it with the plan to completely rethink the two houses and bring them together. Create two totally separate spaces that could also function as one.
This property was built to be a vacation home, and heavily used, so the owners didn’t want to be picky or feel overly organized, the design and decor had to be classic, sturdy and stand the test of time.
Lots of natural materials have been used in both houses giving it a lovely earthy organic feel. The idea was that the house would stand up to time beautifully.
In the beautiful light wood kitchen, there is elegance in the space but you also feel almost cocooning with the wooden cladding on the walls too. These warm tones are found throughout the house, the idea was that the subtle and calming colors would provide a feeling of protection from the sea which is on the doorstep.
Adjoining the kitchen, with a window to merge the two spaces, is a barbecue terrace.
There is so much living space on both sides of the house, both inside and out, but this main living space or The Great Room, as it is also called, is used as main family room.
Again lots of lovely warm tones, it feels relaxed and laid back. Traditional artwork has been kept to a minimum in the home, but the owners have seen the space as an opportunity to showcase their own personal collection of Maori objects and contemporary New Zealand art. Chris Charteris’ beautiful “Meeting Place” hanging necklace is just one example.
This living room is on the other side of the house, and you can tell there is a contrast here with all those light neutrals happening on the beach side of the house.
The colors are deep, darker and the stained wood walls and a coziness you don’t get in the airy open rooms across the house. The idea was that these rooms would look more like a shelter from the sea.
There is still the same relaxed feeling here, the same style, low furniture and lots of texture too.
There are seven bedrooms in total. This is the master bedroom of the beach house.
There are a lot of Japanese influences throughout the house, both in the architecture and in the decor. In the master bedroom, this nod to Japanese design is found in the bedroom both in the hand-woven throw and in the custom headboard designed by Japanese textile artist Hiroko Takeda.
A terrace connects the top two floors of each house, with guest bedrooms located on either side. There is a real blur between the exterior and the interior, which was the key to the design of the whole house. The architect didn’t want spaces for each function separately, the idea was that all the outdoor spaces feel like a simple extension of the indoor rooms.
Inside, the bedrooms once again have that lovely light, seaside color scheme. Warm creams, white and just touches of dark wood to found the look.
There are ten bathrooms in both houses. Each has their own unique feel. This dark wood clad bathroom is filled with beautiful textures that despite the dramatic colors still have a relaxed beach feel.
Again, in order to create that seamless feeling between indoors and outdoors, there is an outdoor shower. Filled with lush greenery, a floating bench, and smooth pebble flooring, it has the distinct feel of a Japanese garden.
The en-suite bathrooms in the guest bedrooms combine the warm wood cladding with elegant gray marble to give the bedrooms a soft yet contemporary feel.
There are as many outdoor living and dining spaces as there are. A covered terrace, on the ground and first floors, is located on the beach side of the property. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors separate it from the interior, but there’s still that feeling that you can seamlessly switch between them.
A dining room takes up half of the terrace, the other half is an informal outdoor lounge, with an outdoor fireplace for cooler nights.
On the second floor, a smaller and more intimate outdoor lounge overlooks the sea. Again, there is a fireplace to create a cozy atmosphere.