A Modern La Jolla Home with Sculptural Furnishings


Modern White Seating Area with Lime Green Chair

A hanging Leucos fixture from Urban Lighting hovers above Last Resort, an artwork from Designers Resource Collection, and a Moroso table and chair from Unisource Solutions. On the balcony, a chair from Niche affords a snug location to watch the waves.

Modern Neutral Bathroom with Pebble Flooring

The master bathroom has a pebble floor from SpecCeramics and custom back-painted plate-glass walls from Genesis Glass Installations. The custom walnut vanity by CTT Furniture boasts a super-white-quartz countertop from Florentine. The faucet, sink and tub are all from Ferguson.

Modern White Seating Area with Modern White Armchair

Gauzy drapery fabric by Allure in a seating area lets natural light flow in. The Fjord armchair is by Moroso; the white table is from Minotti.

Modern Neutral Bedroom with Blue Circle Rug

In the master bedroom, sconces by Artemide from Urban Lighting flank an upholstered bed from Nathan Anthony. Below them are custom side tables by CTT Furniture. Paola Lenti’s custom rug made of interlocking circles, from Niche, adds a touch of whimsy.

Modern Neutral Outdoor Seating Area with Built-in Bench

A built-in bench in Perennials fabric from Harsey & Harsey, covered by Stan’s Custom Upholstery, makes for a comfortable place to gaze at the floating fire pit—softly illuminated from below.

Modern Neutral Dining Area with White-Quartz Table

Bonaldo chairs from Functions surround the great room’s custom white-quartz dining table by CTT Furniture. Continuing past the building envelope, the ocean blue basalt wall strengthens the relationship between the interior and exterior. The oiled French white-oak plank flooring is by Cut & Dried Flooring.

Modern Neutral Great Room with White Quartz Fireplace

A rug from HD Home & Design grounds a cozy seating area in the great room near the absolute- black granite and super-white quartz fireplace. A velvet-covered sectional by Bonaldo from Functions offers a casual spot to lounge. The table lamps are by Studio Italia Design from Urban Lighting.

Modern Neutral Great Room with Pocket Doors

Accessed through pocket doors featuring glass from Pulp Studio, the kitchen features rift-cut white-oak cabinetry by CTT Furniture. It provides a warm complement to the custom back-painted plate-glass backsplash by Genesis Glass Installations. The Studio Italia Design pendant fixture is from Urban Lighting.

Modern Neutral Great Room with Blue Furniture

Sculptural B&B Italia chairs and a sectional and ottoman, all from Diva, create a comfortable seating area within the great room. Above hangs Torrent, an acrylic and epoxy artwork by Christopher Aaron. The silk rug is from Minotti.

Modern Neutral Front Elevation with Succulent Walls

Builder Armando Flores collaborated with the home’s architectural designer, Elena Goutnova, on the landscape design, which includes a living wall planted with succulents to soften the exterior of the modern abode. The Fleetwood windows from Builders Window Supply look out to the ocean.

Modern Neutral Entry with White Chairs

A pivot door of reclaimed wood and glass by CTT Furniture opens to a La Jolla home with interiors crafted by Anita Dawson. The Hinkley sconce from Urban Lighting is mounted above a pair of Gervasoni chairs from DDC.

Modern Neutral Exteior with Pool Bridge

The highlight of this house is how the interior flows into the bridge leading to the pool area and how the living and dining rooms flow into the barbecue zone.

Like the shifting sands on the nearby beach, a dynamic La Jolla neighborhood overlooking the Pacific Ocean has evolved through the years, with new structures slowly altering the landscape. One such example is a stunning contemporary renovation of a midcentury home designed for a family. “The owner was pushing for something that was modern and sophisticated, without feeling too stark, so there are a lot of textures and organic elements,” says Anita Dawson, who was called on to design the crisp contemporary interiors.

The process began with the project’s residential designer, Elena Goutnova, and builder, Armando Flores, collaborating closely on a revised structure that would strike the right balance, combining a chic contemporary feel with a design that made the most of the exceptional climate. To that end, the exterior is clad in beautiful yet weather-resistant materials such as stucco and quartzite. The quartzite material continues into the interior, which strengthens the connection between inside and outdoors. “The architecture and landscape are very interconnected,” says Goutnova. “The highlight of this house is how the interior flows into the bridge leading to the pool area and how the living and dining rooms flow into the barbecue zone.”

As Dawson points out, “There is a much longer process to build from scratch, and we felt that the existing footprint would work,” which meant Flores had to be meticulous when it came to building the structure. Because the project is considered a renovation, for example, they were required to retain at least 50 percent of the original walls—no easy feat when raising the first-floor ceiling heights from 7 feet to 13 feet. “We were very careful during the demolition,” Flores notes.

The results, however, were well worth the effort. The transformed home’s larger windows, open layout and higher ceilings create a light-filled space that is an ideal backdrop for the mix of materials and furnishings that Dawson helped the owner to select. “This is her baby,” says the designer. “We just helped her to realize it.”

In the great room, rift-cut white-oak cabinetry and a white-quartz and absolute-black granite fireplace hearth create a counterpoint to the kitchen, an adjacent space dressed in the same materials (it can be closed off with a laminated-glass pocket door with a patterned film sandwiched between the panes). “Those rooms are opposite of each other, and their materials and shape are designed to be reflective of each other,” Dawson explains. “This house is about symmetry and form. Everything speaks the same language.” Likewise, the furnishings in the two spaces complement one another. The dining table, for example, is a larger 10-foot-long version of the custom quartz table that Dawson selected for the kitchen.

A medley of blue hues adds contrast and interest to the white walls and light wood cabinetry that can be found in the home. “There are subtle differences in the colors throughout,” Dawson explains. “It was harder to pull off, but it feels more sophisticated.” In the main living area, the sofa is covered in a dark teal fabric while a sectional in front of the fireplace is covered in a marine blue one. In order to create discrete seating areas in such a large space, Dawson incorporated a pair of sculptural chairs with high backs, which are covered in an inky blue fabric. “This is a big room, and it needed pieces that could carry their own weight,” she says. “Being tall, they feel more intimate, and they also add whimsy.”

That lighthearted sensibility extends to the master bedroom and a small family room across the hall, which both have rugs made of interlocking circles, and the children’s bedrooms, for which Dawson selected simple cabinetry and bedding that’s fresh and lighthearted. “I don’t like to take things too seriously,” says the designer. “This is a really fun house.”

Indeed, a bridge with a glass railing leads from the bedrooms on the second floor to the upper level of a tiered outdoor area. From the glass railing, one can look over the elevated pool and spa, the waters of which spill over a gray sandstone wall and into a basin near the outdoor living area on the lower level. “Engineering that wall was quite a challenge,” explains Flores, who drilled steel moorings 8 feet into the ground to stabilize it. “This wasn’t your average pool construction.”

With such a spectacular setting, it’s no surprise that the owners are thrilled with their new home. That said, they are not content to rest on their laurels. Dawson is at work on the rooftop deck, because, as the wife points out, “A house is like a living organism that lives, breathes and changes. There’s no limit to perfection.”

—Tate Gunnerson