A Hillside Cedar-Clad Rancho Santa Fe Home


Modern Cream Curved Master Bedroom

A curved wall and floor-to-ceiling headboard conceals a storage area in this contemporary master suite.

Modern Exterior with Hidden Terrace

This hillside home features a largely hidden terrace off the master bedroom, that serves a private place to enjoy the home's surroundings.

Modern Exterior with Heated Pool

Geometric lines and calming water features create a sense of peacefulness outside this contemporary home.

Modern White Hallway Half Staircase

Every room in the house is on a different level than the one next to it, each separated by small groups of steps throughout the home.

Modern Cream Kitchen with Sloped Ceiling

Clerestory windows flood the kitchen with natural light.

Modern White Dining Room Buffet

In this modern dining space, a mica panel rises from the buffet that is between the dining room and kitchen, creating visual privacy and a more intimate feel.

Modern Neutral Poolside Exterior

Travertine floors flow from the outside in, uniting the interior and exterior of this contemporary home.

Modern Glass Corner Window

A lower-level living area sits behind the L-shaped butt-joint glass of this contemporary home.

Modern White Living Room Clerestory Windows

In this open, airy home, rooms are defined by floor elevations and ceiling heights, as opposed to walls.

Modern Wood and Stucco Exterior Water Feature

Large stepping stones connect this reflecting pool with a private terrace which wraps around the bedrooms of this contemporary home.

Modern White Cedar and Stucco Rear Elevation

Liberal use of cedar, both on the ceilings and exterior, where it’s complemented by cream-colored stucco, further connects the house to its sylvan environment.

Ever since Rebecca Gremore and her late husband moved to San Diego in 1986, they dreamed of living in Rancho Santa Fe. She lost him in 1993, but the dream lingered, and five years later she bought a two-acre plot with stunning views of the countryside. Gremore had never liked the gray, foggy mornings of the busy coastal communities. Here the climate was mild, and cool breezes swept the hills virtually every afternoon.

On the hunt for an architect, she set out to examine a friend’s newly remodeled home. Along the way, she spotted a beautiful footbridge and took note of it. Her friend’s remodel had been designed by architect Taal Safdie, and when the homeowner opened a magazine to show Gremore more of Safdie’s work, “Lo and behold, there was the footbridge,” Gremore says. She later visited other homes Safdie had worked on. “When I stood in those properties, I felt a sense of belonging and peacefulness,” she says. “It did something to me on a very deep level.”

Sensitive to how buildings mesh with their built and natural environments, Safdie and her husband and partner, Ricardo Rabines, of San Diego-based Safdie Rabines Architects, favor warm woods, huge windows, and in an apparent contradiction, rooms that are open enough to flow into each other, yet still form intimate spaces. Gremore needed a family-friendly home for her three daughters—and eventually, as it turned out, a new husband. “We’re not real formal people,” she says. “The living spaces are very open, which suits our lifestyle, and yet there’s a rec room downstairs where the kids can be noisy.” They also needed an abundance of outdoor space.

Safdie and Rabines designed a sprawling, 10,500-square-foot home with numerous public rooms that hug the hill it sits on. Every room is on a different level than the one it abuts, each separated by a few steps. “We wanted them to feel like they were sitting at the top of the hill and stepping down to follow the contours of the land,” Safdie says.

The terracing also prevents the home from turning into a cavernous space that dwarfs its occupants. “The house feels transparent and airy because the rooms aren’t divided by walls. They’re defined by different floor elevations and ceiling heights, and they feel like different spaces.”

Liberal use of cedar, both on the ceilings and exterior, where it’s complemented by cream-colored stucco, further connects the house to its sylvan environment. Interior designer Robert Wright, of Bast/Wright Interiors in San Diego, took his cue from the home’s clean lines and light hues in Builders, Inc., took over, and the family was able to move in less than two years later. “It’s a highly technical house, very architectural,” says Bill Robershaw, Wardell’s jobsite superintendent on the project. “Everything had to be very precise.

It pleases Gremore that her home is unlike more typical Rancho Santa Fe residences. “Here, you come into the foyer, and you don’t experience how huge the space is. You look at the lines and the view. There have been nights here when the moon has lit up the clouds that are rather low, and you feel like you’re floating in them.”