Overlooking a canyon in a quiet San Juan Capistrano neighborhood, Scott and Katie Lamming’s California property is dotted with 100-foot pines and native pepper trees. Rather than building something traditional on the site, though, they decided to take a different path–a modern farmhouse with an industrial edge. “To go for a more contemporary application in this area was so much fun,” says interior designer Audrey Dunn, whom the Lammings tapped, along with her partner, Ladd Lambert, to conceive the home and furnish its spaces. “Some people like to blend farmhouses into the hillside where they just kind of disappear, but this was quite a modern statement within the rural environment.” Katie, who, with Scott, acted as the general contractor, adds, “We didn’t want that kitschy, old-fashioned look but something very clean and simple that brings the outdoors in.”
To make the most of the views, the team located the house against the hillside. Utilitarian spaces such as the pantry and other storage were placed facing the hill, while most of the bedrooms and the main living spaces, including the massive great room–a combined kitchen, dining and living space that opens to a generous covered terrace–were situated to take in the canyon vistas. “We wanted to create an extended living area to expand the square footage for entertaining family and friends,” says Lambert. Separating the terrace and the great room are large glass pocket doors, just some of the ample glazing that fosters that indoor-outdoor feel. “We knew we needed lots of large-format windows to let in as much natural light as possible,” adds Dunn. “So the owners can see the landscape and feel like they’re living in a big tree fort.”
Inspiration for the two-story home’s look came via a small carriage house on the property. Its board-and-batten siding, exposed aircraft cables and corrugated steel roof called to mind the rugged yet industrial vibe the couple was after. The team replicated those materials on the exterior (though they opted for a standing-seam metal roof) and chose a similar mix for the interior finishes as well. Warm wood abounds, beginning with the beams on the covered terrace’s ceiling, which also appear in the adjacent great room. There, they cut dramatic lines across the pitched ceilings for that classic barn-like feel. This contrasts with the horizontal nickel gap siding on feature walls painted in fresh white throughout (it softens to a pale gray in the master bedroom). Additional colors remained neutral, like the basalt tile on the fireplace surround, which helped “pull in all that dark gray from the stone outside,” notes Dunn. And decorative tiles behind the range add some pastoral personality to the airy open kitchen, where “there’s a place for everything, and everything in its place,” notes Lambert, pointing to a walk-in pantry concealed behind panels and the generous island’s own storage capacity. “It allows for a clean, uncluttered kitchen with minimal upper cabinets.”
Tempering the notes that read more rural, Lambert and Dunn introduced industrial elements, such as blackened steel railings, and exposed hardware and bracketing. Inspiring the foyer’s distinctive, raw concrete walls was a large retaining wall already installed on the property along the hillside, “so we continued that exposed concrete all the way inside the house,” says Dunn. “We wanted to celebrate these features instead of camouflaging them.”
When choosing the furnishings, Katie was also hands-on, teaming with the interior designers on selections. The process was “a very eclectic and collaborative effort,” says Lambert. “We worked with them using some of their existing furnishings, as well as new purchases.” The family pared down items from their old home in favor of stylish new pieces with a contemporary bent, like the dark gray sectional in the living room and the minimalist dining table. Countering this streamlined style are bright brass fixtures, which contribute a dash of glamour, while softness comes from the plush carpets.
Landscape designer Ryan Prange’s approach also veered modern, while still honoring the property’s natural terrain. He preserved as many of the native trees on the site as possible and instead of florals used fresh green foliage to maintain a clean color palette along the pathways of concrete slabs and crushed stone. The terrain itself proved tricky, with steep slopes and challenging angles, but, Prange says, “We responded to the site’s grade changes with natural elements like landscape timbers, boulders and wood to help the built landscape feel grounded.”
It’s this harmony of design indoors and out that the couple most enjoys about their new home, spending time together in the great room overlooking the terrace and the spectacular view. “My favorite thing is feeling outside even when I’m inside,” says Katie. “And I do feel like we’re outside all the time. Our doors are always open.”