In Coronado, where the temperature averages around 70 degrees and rainfall a mere 10 inches a year, the notion of indoor-outdoor living can be pushed to its limits. Take a recent house by architect Christian Rice. Designing for clients who wanted to recreate the open feel of their previous residence, “we set out to blur the lines between the indoors and out,” he says. From there, Rice recalls, “they gave me quite a bit of artistic license.”
Of his aesthetic approach, Rice says, “The owners really like contemporary design but also wanted the house to pull from traditional Spanish architecture. We skirted that line, bringing in traditional Spanish design and mixing in contemporary elements with a lot of open spaces, windows and light.” at the entrance, for example, where both owners and architect agreed on adding something special, they chose a double door of mahogany, carved in high relief, reminiscent of those found in a colonial hacienda.
Through those doors, the extent to which Rice played with notions of interior and exterior is revealed. “Right away, it’s a fun surprise,” says Rice. “It appears as if you are entering the house, but you’re actually in this garden courtyard and guided around a pathway that leads you into the main house.” there, glass doors on either side of the great room offer a view across a generous lawn to the pool and the rest of the 1/4-acre site.
To further ensure a seamless transition between inside and out, Rice went with consistency in both palette and materials. For the ground level’s flooring, he used Turkish white marble. Outside, he opted for a similar-looking crema marfil marble with a rustic sandblasted finish, the rougher texture chosen for slip resistance near the pool. All of the fireplaces—inside and out—are made of Jerusalem limestone. Natural limestone clads portions of the house, including a balcony over the three-car garage, along with the entry courtyard. And, of course, there’s the glass.
All that glass—in the form of retractable sliding glass walls—did require the utmost precision, builder John Gillem says. “Because it’s such a large opening, you have to make sure it is structurally sound. They have to be absolutely perfect.”
For the clients, who often host cooking parties with friends, Rice provided a generous pair of kitchen islands, both topped with Calacatta gold marble, with ample room for seating. Sleek stained-oak-veneer cabinetry was built into one wall, which also contains an industrial-size sub- Zero fridge. With all the stone in the house, the architect sought to create a sense of balance in the kitchen by employing stained white oak. Look up, though, to find it: he lined the recessed ceiling with the material. The same wood carries into the living room and upstairs, where the architect employed it more traditionally—on the floors. Though thoroughly contemporary, “the spaces still have the sense of warmth with the wood,” Rice points out.
The homeowners took a hands-on approach to the furnishings, sourcing some of the pieces themselves while also calling on designer Casey Browar and her design associate, Ana Cristina Diaz de Sandi. The neutral shades used prominently in the architecture became the basis of the palette, which includes tan and driftwood hues, with dark contrasting tones “to give the space an organic, contemporary feel,” says Browar. “We brought the outdoors in with natural materials such as honed stones, raw wood tones and textured wallcoverings, and blended them with solid linens, minimal-patterned fabrics and leather.” in the living area, for example, two leather Barcelona chairs from Knoll face a pale upholstered sectional by BoConcept, which contrasts with an espresso-stained custom console.
With a design as open as the house’s, the landscape design was a top priority. “The owners had a real desire for lots of fragrance and color,” says landscape architect Katherine Stangle, who satisfied that request with plants such as purple lavender, white calla lilies and rose geraniums. She also had Meyer lemon trees and herbs such as bay laurel and rosemary—ingredients the wife frequently cooks with—planted steps from the kitchen. From the curb, climbing Boston ivy “provides year-round interest,” says Stangle, because the plant changes from green to red as the months pass.
For Rice, the project turned into a special opportunity. “It’s a unique home with a fun interplay with the architecture,” he notes. “Luckily, we have a beautiful climate that allows us to push the limits.”