In her former life as graphic designer, Jill Seale’s client roster included the likes of the White House, the Kennedy Center and Paul McCartney. It was a fateful trip to Florence (where she mastered the ancient art of marbling) that turned the tables. “I told my husband: you don’t have to agree with it, but this is what I’m doing; I’m going to take 100 pillows to High Point and see what happens.” That calculated risk beget exponential opportunities, and today the Charlotte artist and entrepreneur has textile-based products in top retailers and trade showrooms nationwide. Most recently, her collaboration with Chicago-based Port 68 soft-launched at High Point Market and hints at several new SKUs for spring. Seale shared the details with Luxe.
How did this collection with Port 68 come about? I met co-founder Mark Abrams at dinner in High Point. We connected over our mutual love of marbling and wanted to do something made-to-order with real artistry. We landed on silk scarves in four different looks. Hand-marbled with free-wheeling motifs, each one is unique.
Why do you love marbling? I collected marbled paper from Florence my whole life, but when I tried the method myself, I found religion. I immediately rearranged my studio and left my graphic design business. I knew I’d found my voice in textiles.
What feeds your creativity? Everywhere I go, I run things through a design filter. I see the world in color stories—mushrooms on a morning walk, chopping vegetables to make an omelet. It could be the simplest or most obscure thing, but when I see a striking color palette, I capture it. I probably have 27,000 photos on my phone.
WHO: Based in Dallas, Seattle and Los Angeles, Pulp Design Studios co-owners Beth Dotolo and Carolina V. Gentry pride themselves on creating livable interiors with a flair for the unexpected. This aesthetic translates into a unique yet approachable Instagram account that keeps followers coming back for more.
WHAT: Scroll through their feed for a smattering of completed projects, scheme photos, behind-the-scenes and installation shots. You’ll also find posts shared in support of the design community and causes most important to Dotolo and Gentry.
WHY: Pulp Design Studios wants its followers to feel inspired, not intimidated, and to realize everyone deserves a beautiful space and surroundings. Look to what they post as a guide for going bold with your interiors and making your home a reflection of you.
IN THEIR WORDS: “Our feed is really a documentation of what we’re working on and telling our brand story. It’s important to inspire and communicate the problems we’ve solved for our clients, authentically. If we aren’t communicating our vision, value or trust, then it’s not Insta-worthy.”
Architect William Duff joined the couple for many backyard discussions, trying to figure out if it was possible to do their future life justice by merely reconfiguring their longtime home, which he describes as an “unremarkable” 1950s tract house. “Taking into consideration their wish list, we decided it would be best not to ‘Frankenstein’ the home by simply grafting new stuff onto it,” says Duff. All agreed it was better to tear down the old home and start from scratch.
Of the designs for the new house drafted by Duff and his team, architects Jim Westover and Michelle Liu, it was a three-level dwelling with a distinctive butterfly roof–a Le Corbusier hallmark of postwar American residential architecture–that resonated most with the homeowners. “That asymmetrical wing span is a very compelling way to give the home distinction, expression and energy,” says Duff.
But the design’s sentimental high note is the courtyard–an exalted version of the one found in the wife’s ancestral home in India, which also featured a solitary tree. “We both have immigrant backgrounds–my husband was born and raised in Ireland–and we wanted our home to integrate elements from our cultural heritages,” says the wife.
When the accordion glass walls enclosing the rooms flanking the central outdoor space–living room on one side, family room on the other–are folded away, the area becomes the heart of the home. “The landscape was designed to create a seamless transition from the indoors to the outdoor living spaces,” says landscape architect Richard Radford. “We blurred the lines between the two, and expanded the home’s living area into the garden environment.” On sunshine-drenched days, the family–who, by the time the house was completed, had added two children–moves effortlessly through this indoor-outdoor expanse, with ipe decking that’s nearly flush with the white-oak planks inside to make a smooth surface for tricycle wheels and small bare feet. At dusk, this area is particularly magical, thanks to Duff’s minimalist approach to illumination. A few strategically placed up-lights and recessed lighting are designed to let the pretty twilight take precedence over high wattage man-made lights. “I didn’t want anything distracting you from feeling the openness and cleanliness of the space,” says the architect.
When it came to the interiors, designer Robbie McMillan took a “less-is-more” strategy. “That meant incorporating fewer pieces of furniture, which are larger in scale, to anchor the rooms, as well as working with a range of textures and materials to provide an organic warmth and softness to each space,” he says. The concept is illustrated in the family room, where a low-backed sectional with strong lines and a chunky-wood coffee table are able to hold their own in the high-ceilinged space. “The rooms demand furniture groupings with clean lines and a sense of weight and volume to define themselves,” McMillan says. The designer opted for low seating to accommodate clear views to the backyard.
Dinner parties usually start in the living room, next to the fireplace that’s clad in lava stone slabs that jut out at different lengths and angles, both for textural interest (a counterpoint to the smooth floors and low, sleek profiles of the furniture) and visual drama (the shadows created when light washes on the surface of the hearth give the room’s otherwise quiet demeanor more expression). Since the formal dining room is adjacent, it’s just a few steps to the table, where guests have the choice of enjoying two compelling perspectives: Facing the naturalistic landscape of the drought-tolerant plantings by Radford or the modernist glass-and-metal staircase. “The staircase is a very sculptural–and at times kinetic–element that connects the spaces in the house,” says Duff. “You really see the stairs come to life when people are moving up and down them. You get a very pleasant, homey feeling when you see the house in motion, so to speak.”
It’s an easy thing to witness here, given the relaxed flow from one area to another. While natural materials take the edge off this modern floor plan, it’s the movement within the home that gives it true warmth. As the wife puts it, “Living out the story we imagined for our family and our life has been the home’s greatest gift to us.”
So enticing was the prospect of waking up each day to the sight of the sand and waves that the couple decided to find a beachfront property and start again. When they did, they put together a dream design team: architect John Cooney and the couple’s longtime designer Bruce Palmer Coon, who together created a residence that satisfies the owners’ desire for an elegant and comfortable coastal abode that embraces the site’s views in every possible way—and fits right into its beachy environs without falling into seaside design tropes.
“[The owner] likes the West Indies-inspired, clean, tropical style,” Cooney says, “and he wanted me to get as many rooms on the view as possible.” The architect dreamed up a three-story concept with authentic detailing and materials: On the exterior, Cooney specified tabby shell stucco, mahogany windows and doors, and large overhangs with tongue-and-groove soffits and outrigger brackets and corbels. Even the gutters and downspouts—zinc-coated copper—align with the home’s distinctive style. Cooney prioritized the use of windows and sliding-glass doors; using as much glass as possible on the north and west elevations allows for ample views of the water and floods the interiors with natural light.
That sunlight illuminates exquisitely detailed interiors. The front door is at mezzanine level, splitting the difference between the exterior grade and the first habitable floor, and opens to a dramatic three-story-height entry. Coon designed a pair of handblown, Murano glass “sea bubble” chandeliers, one of which extends from the second-floor ceiling to the first floor, while the second fixture extends 31 feet through all three levels of the space. “We did countless drawings to ensure the space would be sufficient for what is, essentially, an art installation,” Coon says. “And we had to be sure the grandkids wouldn’t swing off of it,” he laughs.
The owners asked for main-floor living so they could reserve the second floor for those grandchildren and their parents, as well as a plan that fosters entertaining. Among the ways the design team delivered: the glowing dining room with a gorgeous pecky cypress ceiling treatment. “I’ve always loved pecky cypress, probably because it reminds me of Addison Mizner’s houses in Palm Beach. It’s very ‘old Florida,’ ” Coon says. To accommodate the HVAC grills and preserve the integrity of the ceiling’s design, Cooney worked with the mechanical engineer to create a hidden reveal—which appears as a shadow line in the ceiling details—behind which the ductwork resides. The room’s other elements, including gold-threaded grass cloth on the walls, sheer ombré curtains and a smoked-glass mirror, give the room an inviting feel.
This level of detail is omnipresent throughout. “The wood-clad walls, the millwork, the columns—it required a very high level of craftsmanship,” says builder Dave Rogers. His team, led by project supervisor Andy Warner, oversaw the installation of the architectural paneling and millwork that Coon specified throughout the home. In the living room, for example, paneled walls make a handsome backdrop for the coquina-limestone fireplace, and a silk Phillip Jeffries wallcovering defines the ceiling’s coffers. Even the powder room exudes elegance: Venetian-plaster wallpaper panels with a polished nickel trim complement a single-slab marble floor.
The interior beauty is matched, of course, only by its site on the Gulf. Cooney designed expansive outdoor, west-facing living spaces on each level, which provide privacy from beach-goers and protection from the afternoon sun. Landscape architect Koby Kirwin nestled the pool below the dune so the owners “have unobstructed views of the water breaking on the shore,” he says, “and the pool is protected from the winter winds off the Gulf.” To landscape the property, he used a small plant palette inspired by the site’s coastal setback, including native sea grape and clusia, railroad vine and coastal grasses; a wall of Sylvester palms and hedging gives some privacy from the public beach access. “The owners invested in the view and in a home that embraces it,” he says. “We all just wanted to give them a place that they never want to leave.”
The mission, dubbed Transporter-1, carried 10 satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink internet network, and more than 130 satellites for a variety of customers including Planet, which operates a constellation of Earth-imaging satellites, and ICEYE, which develops small radar satellites for monitoring ice and tracking floods.
Boulder may be more than 1,200 miles to the closest ocean, but that didn’t stop architects Annette and Dennis Martin from building their dream beachfront-inspired home there. But in this house, the vistas are of undulating hills and noble mountains—a panorama rivaling any seaside view.
The Martins, partners in both business and life, are travel enthusiasts who love vacationing in waterfront locations designed to embrace the beach landscape. One house in particular, however, became the broad-brush impetus for their mountain abode. “We were inspired by a waterfront home in the Hamptons that allowed a glimpse of the ocean through the main room,” Annette says. “It was so inviting, we wanted that feeling here.” The memory of that drove the architects to recreate the look and feel of it on a site perched among the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Using the New York dwelling as their benchmark, they designed a house that wholeheartedly celebrates alpine views from the first room.
Built around a central courtyard to allow privacy from the street, the home welcomes guests both formally and informally. Exterior materials—gray Kansas limestone, rich brown vertical siding and light-painted wood—come together to create a warm, textural first impression. Refined architectural elements and contrasting rustic details feel more carefree than staid.
A limestone path guides guests through the courtyard to a beguilingly ornamented entry porch and large, wooden door. But when stepping into the entry and around a mirrored wall, the view is revealed, and that’s when the magic happens. “The entry sequence offers an anticipation of the view beyond,” Annette notes. “From there, guests are led to the great room, which is designed to be as transparent as possible, with oversize doors framing the amazing scenery.”
The great room acts as an elegant epicenter as well as a floor plan intermediary, graciously linking the kitchen, living and dining rooms while simultaneously insulating the master suite from the more public spaces. Design devices—statement lighting, built-in bookshelves and varying ceiling planes—delineate the large, open room into utilitarian subspaces, while white oak floors with a whitewashed gray finish throughout the home connect the dots.
In the living room, two seating areas provide further spatial cues. Center stage, a smattering of smoky-hued furnishings plays off the dark tones of the kitchen cabinetry and form an entertaining-friendly space for gatherings. Nestled up to generously scaled sliding doors that open to the terrace, the interior space blends seamlessly with the outdoors.
Across the room, a trio of seats dressed in blue velvet and nailhead trim form an intimate seating vignette created for fireside tête-à-têtes. Four kaleidoscopic Andy Warhol lithographs bring to mind summer flower gardens, colorfully crowning a streamlined concrete fireplace with a herringbone detail. This small but mighty gathering spot packs a vibrant punch, energizing the otherwise neutral palette and offsetting verdant views. “We wanted this room to become part of the outdoors,” Annette says. “The artwork and accent pieces really pop with their touches of bold color.”
Elegant and composed, the adjoining kitchen is a unifying element. Reminiscent of the home’s exterior, with the same contrasting tones and mix of materials, it feels equally light and dark, formal and relaxed. The 14-foot-long island is a study in yin and yang, its ebony cabinets topped with glowing Calacatta Borghini marble that’s seemingly lit from within. Jewel-like, champagne-hued ceramic tile balances the more casual painted paneling above. Translucent pendant lights over the island provide a hint of sparkle—subdued yet expressive. “We brought the exterior palette, which is light and neutral with dark accents, inside,” Annette says. “The kitchen is very calming, which we love.”
Equally comforting is the master suite, clad in an earthy hue that Annette refers to as an all-encompassing “brown, gray and green.” Separated from the great room via an ante room, the bedroom feels secluded and hushed—a private oasis punctuated with confident pattern that’s quieted by a cream-colored upholstered bed and shapely lacquered bedside tables.
The scene stealer here, however, may just be the floor-to-ceiling windows and doors that open to a generous rear terrace that runs the length of the house—though “terrace” may be a bit of an understatement. The space was envisioned to be a well-used outdoor room, complete with intricately designed beams, curvaceous brackets and lofty proportions equally appropriate for espying mountains or sandy beaches. “Coloradoans are outdoor people,” Annette says. “We wanted to create a grand area that exemplifies everything about outdoor living.”
It’s that love of the landscape and classic style that relates this mountain home to the Hamptons dwelling that inspired it. Yet it possesses a personality all its own. “All of the details and finishes are modern renditions of traditional designs,” says Annette. “I’d call this house a contemporary classic.”
For years, realtor and serial renovator Mimi Collins admired a historic early 20th-century Tudor Revival home in Hinsdale, Illinois, by renowned architect R. Harold Zook. So when its owner decided to sell the house after more than five decades, Collins and her husband, Dan, swooped in and bought it. “Dan knew that I would fix it,” Mimi says.
Mimi has renovated more than a dozen other houses, so she used her expertise to assemble a skilled team to carry out her vision, recruiting designers Jennifer Kranitz and Aimee Wertepny, along with architect Michael Abraham. Abraham could arguably be considered an expert in Zook homes, as he’s revitalized several others in the area. “Zook’s work has been a source of inspiration over the years,” Abraham says. “His houses are all kind of funky and cool for the time.”
Like Mimi, Abraham had long loved the house, even touring it on several occasions, and he already had ideas about how to bring it into the modern era. For example, he eliminated a wall in the front foyer, opening up the curved stairway and creating a sight line between the front and back doors. He also eliminated a narrow back stairway altogether. “It was kind of a maze of little rooms and hallways that were difficult to use,” he explains.
Barely touched by the previous owner, the charming abode still boasted its original flooring and millwork, hand- forged brass hardware in the shape of animal heads and signature Zook touches like a small window with a spiderweb motif, which is hidden away in the foyer closet. “This home really has its own language,” Kranitz says. “We just had to show up and let it shine.”
To achieve that, Kranitz says the designers asked themselves, “How do we bring this house up to date without undermining the original intent, character and charm?” In one of the most dramatic changes, they converted the small original kitchen into a breakfast space outfitted with a wall-to-wall tufted banquette and a pair of intentionally mismatched round tables. At one end, Mimi’s office houses handsome built-in cabinetry. On the ceiling, a quatrefoil pattern in a motif taken from the home’s front façade elevates the look. “I call it SoHo House of Hinsdale,” Mimi says of the room, noting that she and Dan often sit in there all day long.
The original formal dining room is now a much larger kitchen with gray-stained walnut cabinetry by O’Brien Harris, honed white Lincoln Calacatta marble countertops and open metal wall shelving. When illuminated, the vintage Paris streetlights above the center island reflect off the original beamed wooden ceiling and the Venetian plaster-covered walls. “It’s alive with texture,” Wertepny says. “Buh-bye, subway tile.” Although the designers lobbied Mimi to open the spacious new kitchen to the adjacent living area, she resisted. Instead, a pair of doors integrated into bar cabinetry can either be closed off or left open, creating options. Nearby, a pair of contemporary sofas and more traditional wing chairs surround the original stone fireplace atop an elegant wool- and-silk rug that’s based on a painting by Francine Turk. “We push Mimi away from her comfort zone and make her spaces a little funkier than she would do on her own,” Kranitz says.
Mimi especially credits the designers for sourcing the many new light fixtures throughout the interior. A modern linear leather-wrapped bronze fixture contrasts the original moldings and beams in the living room. And a sculptural tiered glass medallion chandelier takes advantage of the newly lofted ceilings in the master suite, where a low-slung tufted headboard and a decidedly modern chaise lounge coexist with classic antiques from Mimi’s existing collection. “The room is humanly scaled, yet the volume allows the light to pour in,” Wertepny says. “It’s heaven.”
While Mimi sacrificed a bedroom to create a more spacious master bathroom with dual vanities and a spacious Carrara marble-clad shower, there’s plenty of room for guests in the new detached garage and second-floor coach house. Built with the same materials as the original and featuring the same unique roofline, the structure looks as if it’s always been there.
Dan and Mimi feel right at home in the newly revitalized house. “I have to give Mimi a lot of credit,” says Kranitz. “If any other client had said that she was going to do the renovation herself, I’d say, ‘We’re out,’ but I’d seen her do it before. Most people don’t have the vision. She does.”
The owners wanted this house to be fun,” says designer Ashley Goforth of renovating her longtime Houston clients’ new home, “with bright and colorful rooms, yet neutral tones on the larger furnishings for flexibility.” So that’s precisely the approach Goforth decided to take–and since she had collaborated with the couple on three of their previous homes, their friendship helped everything to effortlessly fall into place. When the couple–who had been on the hunt for a larger home but did not want to leave their neighborhood–first learned this residence was going on the market, they jumped at the opportunity to take a look at it.
Located just a few streets over from their prior address, and with all the extra square footage they would need for their three young daughters, it was a perfect fit. “Ashley was the first person I called after we bought our home,” recalls the wife. “She’s so good at really thinking things through before making big decisions.”
Goforth’s practical approach paid off for the clients when she determined the Tudor-style house would require only minor construction work. With builders Eric Finn and Jim Hardwick of Master Key Builders LLC also onboard, Goforth remodeled the kitchen with new plumbing, countertops, light fixtures and hardware. She also prioritized lightening the interiors, “which were originally very dark with lots of wood,” Goforth explains, by coating the walls with white paint for a fresh and airy feel while adding color strategically through art and accessories. “Since using color was a big departure for the owners compared to their previous residences,” the designer notes, “we created a neutral-hued zone in the center of the house to serve as a visual breather between each space.” This decision helped bring a sense of sophistication and continuity as well.
The idea to use a different palette in each room was sparked by a photo the wife spotted in a magazine. “She was the most vocal about using color,” Goforth explains, “and had torn out a picture of the multicolor fabric we decided to use on pillows in the living room.” The image also inspired the hot-pink fabric on the vintage chairs in the living room, as well as the lacquered teal built-in cabinets in the family room and the show-stopping Clarence House Tibet Print wallpaper in a powder room. Goforth kept the rugs and the primary pieces subtle, including the Oushak rug in the family room, the sofas and chaises in the main living spaces, and the armoire in the master bedroom.
With the new palette came new furnishings either selected or made specifically for this house–whether a traditional antique piece, custom design or more contemporary silhouette, such as a Jonathan Adler accent table–as well as furnishings repurposed from the family’s previous homes. “We tried to make sense of the existing furniture in its new surroundings,” Goforth explains. For instance, a table in the living room–flanked by antique fauteuils the owners acquired three homes ago–once served as the family’s dining table, while the armoire in the master bedroom formerly provided storage in a breakfast nook. “Through the years, Ashley has helped me acquire some amazing finds,” says the wife. “She has a great eye, whether she’s scouring local shops or the fields at the Original Round Top Antiques Fair.”
Goforth also advised the couple as they grew their art collection, which they started years ago with two treasured paintings by a favorite artist, Chris Andrews. “I love having them as centerpieces of our home,” the wife says. “I want to feel a connection with our art rather than buy it simply to fill a space.” This rule applies to all of the couple’s new acquisitions as well, including a favorite three-dimensional rice-paper work by Zhuang Hong Yi, “which looks different from every angle,” notes the wife. “When we have guests, our daughters walk them by this piece to see how it changes.” Other recent additions include paintings by Hunt Slonem and Robert Rea.
The process of carefully selecting furnishings, accessories and art resulted in a home that is both deeply personal and a refreshing change for the owners, who once shied away from anything too daring. Stressing the importance of relationships, Goforth credits her clients for having the confidence to trust their designer wholeheartedly in making bolder decisions for their interiors. “She likes to be involved,” Goforth observes, “but has complete faith in the process.” As for the owners, going out on a limb with more color and pattern was a welcome adjustment for their family. “Our last home was very monochromatic, beautiful and soft,” the wife says. “But this is such a happy place.”
It wasn’t interior designer Suzanne Childress’ preservation chops that landed her a job updating an 1890s bungalow in Ashland, Oregon—rather, it was her love of wallpaper. Her clients, San Francisco-based Kirsten Ziegler and her husband, J Frederick, had bought it as a second home a decade earlier and decided it was time to renovate. They were finalizing plans with general contractor Brad Youngs, of Brad Youngs Construction, when Kirsten saw a project that Childress had done. “I was searching online for ‘cool, modern wallpaper,’ and there was an image of a design by Suzanne that grabbed me,” she recalls.
Childress did more than select an assortment of dramatic wallpapers for the project, though. She proposed a series of structural changes that made the 1,000-square-foot house at once functional and inviting—from moving walls and reconfiguring rooms to outfitting the spaces with creative storage solutions. “I love old houses,” says Childress, who once worked as an attorney with the Environmental Protection Agency. Her side gig—redoing her historic home in Annapolis, Maryland—set the stage for a major career shift and an eventual move west. “If a house has quality bones, then I’m all about working them into a new design concept,” she says. “But this house was a real patchwork; there wasn’t anything worth preserving.”
Kirsten and J, who both work in the tech world, embraced her suggestions. “We were so enamored with the home’s location—we’re a block from the theater complex and can walk to downtown,” says Kirsten. “It certainly wasn’t because the house was so gigantic or because the interior was so darling.”
That meant a gut renovation and installing all new floors, windows and moldings. Childress tweaked the plans to transform what had been envisioned as a semi open-plan kitchen into a more traditional space. She also worked with Youngs, who has since retired, and his team to bump out a wall to include a small eating area. What the house lacked in size, it made up for in vertical space, so Childress capitalized on the high ceilings, tucking base and top cabinets everywhere she could. What was once a second bedroom became a cozy parlor featuring a two-sided fireplace that opens to the adjacent living room. Childress was also able to carve out two additional spaces for the couple: a tiny study and a nook that holds a sofa and a TV.
Finding a balance between old and new was her goal. “Kirsten and J were worried when I suggested dropping in more doorways,” says Childress, “but the spaces would have been too busy had we left them open. Now the rooms unfold as you walk through them.”
Taking a cue from what Childress calls “the rock-and-roll edge to Kirsten’s style,” the designer incorporated deep tones to dramatic effect. She set off the gray-painted walls in the living room and part of the kitchen with black moldings and window frames. In the parlor, she paired black gloss paint with a similarly hued imitation crocodile wallcovering for an atmospheric air, accented by touches of gold and brass in the furnishings and hardware. Finished in black paint with brown undertones, the kitchen cabinetry creates a striking foil to the marble-like porcelain counter and backsplash as well as the upper cabinets stained a rich brown. “It took a lot of rounds to get the stain right, but it plays so nicely with the tones of the brass and black,” Childress notes. “Brad had the knowledge and expertise to make it happen.”
Considering the diverse wallcoverings that Childress selected, Kirsten and J are hard-pressed to name a favorite. J leans toward the woodland animal paper in the study, while Kirsten says that though she was initially unsure about the enchanted-forest-themed print in the master bedroom—appropriately called Midsummer Night—she now loves it. “I wondered if I was going to hate it in six months because it’s so different, but J really liked it,” she says. “We looked at other ones, but I said, ‘Let’s just do it,’ and I’m so glad we did. It’s really sultry and ethereal with the lights on.”
Childress believes the fact that the couple lived in the house before they started renovating is key to the project’s success. “It’s nice if you can get the idea of the flow and what’s working and what’s not. I’m always curious when a client says, ‘Oh, we never go in there’ or ‘We never use that.’ Most of us can’t afford to have rooms you never go in,” she says. “You need to make the most of all your spaces. That was what I wanted to do here—to make all the rooms spaces they really wanted to be in and enjoy.”
My parents have always been drawn to the water,” says a Marin County executive who has fond memories of growing up on New York’s Long Island, also spending lakeside summers in New Hampshire and going to the beach in Southern California. Although he still visits his mother at her waterfront home in Santa Barbara, he’s always wanted his own place by the shore. He found it in the small town of Stinson Beach, just 40 minutes away from the full-time residence he shares with his wife. “It was a dream of mine to have a beach house—and to be right on the water is all the more special,” he says.
Designer Eugenia Jesberg was thrilled to be tapped for the project shortly after she’d finished decorating the couple’s more formal, Colonial-style home on the other side of Mount Tamalpais. In this case, the style would be decidedly more casual yet no less sophisticated. “We designed everything to bring in the views, colors and textures and to achieve the look and feel of what was outside,” Jesberg says.
The project involved taking down a 1950s-era house, and modern storm-safety codes required part of the new structure to be elevated. The higher vantage point, however, provided excellent design opportunities. “That view got amplified,” Jesberg says. “It’s pretty magical out there.” To maintain the focus outside, Jesberg and architect Steve Wisenbaker decided on a modernized version of a simple New England-style residence, punctuating traditional tongue-and-groove paneling with floor-to-ceiling steel-framed glass doors and huge plate-glass windows.
Wisenbaker’s first consideration was siting the outdoor living space. He then designed the house, and general contractor Larry Hadley and his team would build around it. “We found the sweet spot and left that area open. The outdoor connection enriches the spaces you live in,” Wisenbaker explains. That “sweet spot” is now the deck that intersects with the main living spaces and the master bedroom; it’s placed on an axis with the entry where Jesberg employed limestone to go up the steps, through the glass-enclosed foyer and out the other side. “It’s like a sky bridge,” she says, describing it as a place where the barriers between inside and outside seem to melt away.
Jesberg maintained a largely neutral palette within the main house and focused on texture to tell the story of its seaside surroundings. A tall fireplace is clad in marble with blue-gray veins, for example. “It has this rippled feel to it, and that was deliberate because the house is so linear and structural,” she says, noting that the feature also emulates the water. Crackled, pale blue backsplash tile in the kitchen reinforces that sentiment. The floor tile in the master bathroom resembles the cable knit of a fisherman’s sweater, and knotty oak accents throughout the house interpret the home’s rustic landscape.
The designer crafted a different narrative for the ground-level guesthouse. It’s a colorful extension of the owner’s art collection that includes pop art works by Ed Ruscha. “Color gives it some personality,” Jesberg says. “It doesn’t have the views, but it’s still a fun and light-filled space.” The structure opens into a courtyard that includes a large spa and bocce ball court. Landscape architect Corey Brooks transformed the flat area into a bas-relief of features that reach varying heights. He played to the narrow, rectangular space with a cedar-framed bocce court—a choice meaningful to the owner, who remembers playing the similar game of pétanque as a young exchange student in France. A few steps up from the court is a large spa with a prominent back wall and fountain. “To get the scale right, the spa had to have some substance so it would stand out from the garden,” Brooks says. “I did it to minimize its appearance as a hot tub and maximize its appearance as a water feature.”
Back on the main level, Jesberg ensured that her clients could enjoy the beach without ever having to step outside. She chose leather chairs in the living room, she says, “so you can just swivel around and get your binoculars out to watch the whales.” A furry chaise in the master bedroom provides a luxurious cradle from which to watch the waves crash beyond the deck. “It’s really about the tranquility,” Jesberg says. “You feel like you’re floating above the dunes—it’s a little compound in heaven.”