Beach Perfect in Solana Beach


Soalana Beach Home with Eclectic Influences

Seamlessly merging a mix of influences, a design team fashions a Solana Beach bungalow into a stylish, comfortable abode for a family.

Beachy, Eclectic Hallway in Solana Beach

The owners wanted an aesthetic that was a mix of modern farmhouse, clean coastal and tropical plantation.

Beachy, Traditional Living Room in Solana Beach

Interior designer Kari Arendsen chose reclaimed beams from Vintage Timberworks for the living area. Around an RH coffee table, Ralph Lauren Home armchairs, a sofa in Perennials fabric and Noir armchairs with cushions in a Schumacher linen make for stylish seating.

Traditional Dining Room with Beachy Influences in Solana Beach

Contractor Travis McCaw oversaw the installation of the shiplap paneling that runs throughout the home. The dining area’s antique sideboard is from C’est La Vie and is topped with a pair of lamps Arendsen found while antiquing. The artwork above is from the owners’ existing collection.

White Kitchen with Beach Vibes in Solana Beach

Weiland doors open up to a breezeway adjacent to the kitchen. The space’s sleek surfaces—Calacatta Crema marble on the island countertop from Tutto Marmo and poured-concrete flooring by Surface Designs—merge beautifully with Arteriors pendants and RH bar chairs.

Beach Vibe Breakfast Nook in Solana Beach Home

Off the breakfast nook, Ashley Norton hardware from European Bath, Kitchen, Tile & Stone punctuates the white kitchen cabinetry, which is topped with butcher block by Butcher Block Co. An Arteriors pendant hangs above a Noir table and chairs—found by the owners on a trip to Santa Barbara.

Custom Wine Closet in Beachy Solana Beach Home

Metal, concrete and reclaimed-wood accents, which appear in the rest of the kitchen, pop up in the design for the custom wine closet nearby. Uplit iron-and-glass shelves illuminate the couple’s wine and spirits collection.

Vibrant Touches in Beachy Solana Beach Master Bedroom

The vibrant Serena & Lily rug grounds the four-poster Noir bed and geometric bench by Oly in the master bedroom. Dark-stained bedside chests hold sculptural lamps—gifts from a friend’s estate—with custom shades by Arendsen’s company, Intimate Living Interiors.

Beach Glass Chandelier in Solana Beach Master Bedroom

Crowned by a beach-glass-beaded Ro Sham Beaux chandelier, the master bedroom’s seating area includes custom white-linen slipcovered swivel chairs by Lee Industries. Reclaimed-oak floorboards from Vintage Timberworks provide a handsome base for the hide rug from SoLo.

Beachy, White Master Bath in Modern Solana Beach Home

In the master bathroom, etched-glass mirrors from RH and Ro Sham Beaux sconces hang over a dresser by Bliss Home & Design, which was transformed into a vanity and topped with stone from Tutto Marmo. MTI sinks are outfitted with Newport Brass faucets, all from European Bath, Kitchen, Tile & Stone.

Organic Touches in Beachy Solana Beach Master Bath

On the walls, marble slabs from Tutto Marmo serve as a serene backdrop for the master bathroom. A freestanding Cheviot Products tub looks out to the sea. The Newport Brass plumbing fixtures are from European Bath, Kitchen, Tile & Stone, as is the herringbone-patterned marble flooring.

Sophisticated Beach Vibe Master Bedroom in Solana Beach

Architect Jim Sneed worked to open up the spaces in the home, giving it more light. A vestibule leading to the master suite was moved to add a more sophisticated entry into the room. A chest with cabriole legs and a glass vase anchor the space, which is a favorite of the designer.

Beach Cool Bedroom in Modern Solana Beach Home

The beachy feeling throughout the home extends to one of the sons’ bedrooms. Beneath a Thomas O’Brien light fixture from Visual Comfort & Co., a spindle bed by The Land of Nod rests atop a Pottery Barn rug; the custom draperies are in Cowtan & Tout linen.

Brett and Christie Combs’ wish list for their dream home—where they could raise their three young sons near family and longtime friends—was specific down to the house itself, a Solana Beach abode they had spotted years before it became available. The Combs, who are in the real estate business and had seen their fair share of homes, had set their sights on the 1987 bungalow with high ceilings— a rarity in the area—and unobstructed views of the Pacific. The couple liked it so much that when they heard the owner was finally ready to sell, they abandoned work on another project and immediately purchased it. “It was like finding an old classic car that needed to be rehabbed,” says Brett. “It had the potential to become something great.”

To create an open, airy environment where no room was off-limits to their boys, the couple turned to interior designer Kari Arendsen and architect Jim Sneed—whose firm, Bokal & Sneed Architects, is the successor to Bokal Kelley-Markham Architects, the original architect for the house. Having the drawings from that project “was a huge help,” Sneed says. “We had all the structural, foundation and framing plans, so we knew where the beams were. It took a lot of guesswork out of the equation.” Arendsen worked closely with Sneed to transform the choppy main level into one open space, remove slanted dropped ceilings to restore the original 12-foot heights, and create a seamless indoor-outdoor flow.

When it came to the interiors, Arendsen worked with design director Jennifer Bibay to achieve a multifaceted style. “The owners wanted an aesthetic that was a mix of modern farmhouse, clean coastal and tropical plantation— literally all of those things combined,” says Arendsen. Adds Brett, “Both coastal and farmhouse styles have been done plenty of times, but I haven’t seen the plantation style in this area. Much of the inspiration came from trips to Kauai and Fiji. That lifestyle is how we envisioned the way we wanted to live.”

To evoke the plantation look, Arendsen used a dark stain on the home’s wide eaves, a shade that’s repeated along the mahogany countertops off the breakfast nook and on all the windows and door trims. “It’s something subtle—you don’t really notice it at first, but your eye catches it,” she says. Those warm wood accents juxtapose with the concrete floors throughout the main level, a pleasing tension between traditional and modern. Other elements play up the same contrast, such as the 9-by-16-foot sliding wall panel in the kitchen that faces a bank of paned windows, which are original to the house. “It’s traditional and modern directly playing opposite each other,” Arendsen says. “That effect gave me chills.”

Arendsen sought to differentiate the main-level spaces once the walls were removed, so the mood changes slightly in the kitchen, dining and living areas. She chose an antique sideboard and rustic farmhouse table for the dining area as a way to embrace a traditional feeling in the space where the Combses’ family members and friends gather for meals. “For them, it was incorporating what they hold precious,” says Arendsen. For the living area, the designer opted for cleaner lines and made a statement through texture. There, the rich feel of the beaten-leather armchairs and a jute rug answer the smooth, crisp surfaces of the white shiplap paneling on the walls and ceiling, which general contractor Travis McCaw milled himself to give a deeper groove. “All that tongue-and-groove paneling was smooth with no knots,” he says.

The effect of that paneling is especially dramatic in the master suite, where the walls soar up to the roof lines. “It’s a smooth play on lines that doesn’t feel overwhelming or dizzy,” Arendsen says. “That’s probably one of my favorite spaces.” The vaulted ceilings amplify the ocean views through plate-glass windows that respond to the height and slope of the walls. Downstairs, the outside flows inside quite literally: A three-panel lift-and-slide glass door opens the living room to a west-facing balcony that runs the width of the house, while the kitchen becomes one with the breezeway through a 16-foot kitchen door, which McCaw says is the largest he has ever installed. “I’ve seen some big patio sliders, but this one takes the cake,” he says. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Outside, landscape designer Martha Dudenhoeffer enhanced the exterior views with a whimsical landscape plan full of shapely leaves and saturated blooms. Flame-colored croton plants mix with multihued passionflower vines, while lacy asparagus ferns mingle with the chartreuse leaves of mother-in-law’s tongue. “We wanted it to be really fun, not run-of-the mill,” she says.

Now that all of the work is complete, the Combses’ home has become a destination for both family and friends. “We have someone here almost every night,” Christie says. “Friends and family drop by, and there’s always a cocktail waiting.” Adds Arendsen, “Turning a once-traditional home into something that blends timeless and modern elements was highly rewarding. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

— Jennifer Sergent