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A² Studios - Press

  1. 1. YYEAR BBATHS OF THE ANNUAL 10TH Best Small Master Bath Design: A2 Studios Design team: Tony Garcia, Vince Stroop and Anja Aigner-Morris Photography by A2 Studios Visual Magic Tony Garcia of A2 Studios of North Park says the design program for the remodel of a smallish master bath in Point Loma was simple: Maximize the visual space and storage options with- in the existing space while fusing the design with the master bedroom and the rest of the house, which also were being remodeled. Materials include cherry cabinets, porcelain tile floors, glass-tile and porcelain-tile walls. Fixtures include Porcher porcelain sinks, Jado faucets and a Hansgrohe shower set. Cabi- net hardware is from Sugatsune. To expand the small space visually, Gar- cia and team designed floating cabi- nets, hidden medicine cabinets and added a new linen storage cabinet per the clients’ request. Garcia says the project was particu- larly interesting because the clients lived on the East Coast during the entire design process and construction. “We mostly communicated via email and phone conference with intermedi- ate milestone meetings,” he says. 50 San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles March 2009 43_53_BOY_309.indd 5043_53_BOY_309.indd 50 1/23/09 12:43:48 PM1/23/09 12:43:48 PM
  2. 2. “A nice combination of form and function” — juror Ken Clark Juror comments: Jim Groen: “A strong reinforcement of horizontal planes that adds to a good solution to a relatively small space, which appears spacious and airy.” Robert Wright: “A great use of space. It is user friendly, clean, uncluttered and very inviting.” San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles March 2009 51 43_53_BOY_309.indd 5143_53_BOY_309.indd 51 1/23/09 12:43:58 PM1/23/09 12:43:58 PM
  3. 3. 50 San Diego Home/garDen LifeStyLeS | november 2009 Adab of sea blue on glass mosaic tile echoes the unobstructed ocean view just outside Timothy and Merrilee Ekstrom’s new kitchen in Point Loma. The reflection of color is striking but the main concept for the redo of this contemporary space was to create the kitchen as the heart of the home. “The kitchen is an essential point of gathering for the house,” says design- er Esteban Lopez. “We were able to use the kitchen as the nucleus for the house — that was one of the key fac- tors that the clients really wanted.” The home is U-shaped with an open- entry courtyard on the east leading to a series of French doors through which is the centrally located kitchen. On the west, beyond another set of glass doors, is an expansive ipe deck that looks out to the ocean. The kitchen is flanked by the living room on the south, leading to a wing of bedrooms, and the dining room on the north, also leading to a wing of bedrooms. “The Ekstroms have two young chil- dren and do a lot entertaining,” says architect Vince Stroop. “They wanted to be able to socialize with guests from any part of the home.” 2Center of Attention T h r e e K i Tc h e n s c o m e To L i f eCulinary Dreams 48_55_Kitchens_1109.indd 50 10/6/09 11:17 AM
  4. 4. November 2009 | sandiegohomegarden.com 51 continued on page 55 Although the kitchen embraces a modern style with clean, simple lines, the environment is family-friendly and casual. Materials were chosen with the children in mind. The strongest presence in the kitchen is the three-inch-thick charcoal-black custom concrete, poured on site to form the 36-inch-deep farm- style sink, washboard and countertops. Opposite: A soft palette draws emphasis on the Venetian stucco fireplace wall used in the kitchen and living room of this Point Loma home. Above: All palm wood veneered cabine- try was custom made for the space and all drawers and doors have soft-closing hinges. To create a sense of volume, struc- tural beams are exposed and over-scaled lighting was used. Right: As well as housing the cooktop, the custom concrete island serves as a casual community table when the more formal dining room is not in use. By EVA DiTLEr | PhoTogrAPhy By A2 STuDioS 48_55_Kitchens_1109.indd 51 10/6/09 11:18 AM
  5. 5. T H E M AG A Z I N E F O R C A P TA I N S O F I N D U S T RY www.architectureleaderstoday.com A2 Studios GLOBAL COLLABORATION Three friends from architecture school reunited to form a bicoastal firm with an emphasis on col- laborative design, eco-friendly building practices and international outreach. ARCHITECTURE LEADERS TODAY
  6. 6. Founded in Friendship For college friends Tony Garcia, Jessie Whitesides and Vince Stroop, opening collaborative design studio A2 Studios has been a dream come true. by Marylyn Simpson 2 Architecture Leaders Today west | hospitality May/June 2011 3 hospitality | west
  7. 7. Tony Garcia, Jessie Whitesides and Vince Stroop were fellow architecture majors at Arizona State University where they bonded over a shared passion for art and design -- creating a lasting friendship that would eventually lead to their bicoastal design studio collaboration. After graduating, each went on to pursue different design opportunities, and it was almost 10 years later, in 2004, that the friends found themselves working together again. They opened a design studio with a global presence, a concept that would allow each principal to remain in their current location; yet, empower them to work collaboratively with remarkable opportunities for future growth. “We really wanted to grow into a practice rooted in the notion of a globalized environment rather than a local environment,” Garcia said. “During our initial few years, Vince and I were living in San Diego and Jessie was in Santa Rosa. Before truly launching our studio, the concept of a global environment made us think, ‘Does it really matter where we are living?’ It expanded from there over the last few years with Vince relocating to open a new location in New York. With projects abroad and on a national level, we began to see the expansion of our ‘globalized’ studio.” Currently, Garcia manages the San Diego studio while Whitesides is in Santa Rosa and Stroop is in New York City. While establishing A2 Studios as a bicoastal architecture studio, Garcia, Whitesides and Stroop PREVIOUS SPREAD: Shores House, La Jolla, Calif. Nestled into the La Jolla hillside, this home underwent a complete remodel. To mitigate coastal requirements, the existing footprint remained the same, but the interior and exterior spaces were reconfigured with all new finishes and modern conveniences such as whole-house radiant floor heating. Limestone pavers surrounding the pool and a Meranti wood deck with an adja- cent cast-in-place fire feature provide an excellent area from which to admire the stunning coastal view. ABOVE, LEFT: The kitchen was reconfigured as the core of the home with direct access to all lower level spaces. Designed around a central island that functions as the main cooking space, it divides the informal beverage station from the rest of the kitchen. The Miele induction cooktop, steam oven and built-in refrigerator add to the sleek and efficient layout. Light colored surfaces, dark bluestone tile and the warmth of the walnut cabinets create a unique blend with the perfect amount of contrast. Seen here, beyond the kitchen, is the family room. ABOVE, RIGHT: The view from the entry provides a glimpse of what’s beyond while still allowing the spaces to unfold as you circulate through the home. The dark bluestone tile provides a high level of contrast and refinement against the rich woods and neutral wall colors. PHILCO WOODWORKING Philco Woodworking Inc. specializes in bringing architects' visions and designs to life through the custom fabrication and installation of doors, windows, beams, ceilings, architectural millwork and custom cabinets. Philco’s innovative approach to achieving a high level of detail allows them to excel at specialty work. They are always finding ways to achieve the toughest designs no matter the challenge. In working with clients, they understand the importance of cooperating as a team to complete quality work on time. Additionally, they have worked with A2 Studios on a variety of projects in Southern California, providing custom woodworking pieces and millwork. Philco’s quality work covers a broad range of eye- catching pieces that have caught the attention of design authorities nationwide. An accredited BBB member with honesty, Philco Woodworking stands behind their products and the craftsmanship and quality that goes into each piece. For more information, please visit www.philcowoodworking.com. See ad on page 99. 4 Architecture Leaders Today west | hospitality May/June 2011 5 hospitality | west
  8. 8. developed a philosophy that would guide them through the evolution of their future design efforts. Their belief in the high quality of service they provide to their clients has been the team’s number one motivator. They are focused on a principal-led delivery system where each of the three is directly involved in all phases of a project. “Our clients respond very well knowing that a principal of the firm knows their project inside-and- out,” Garcia said. “Our work does not represent a dictated style or aesthetic for which we want to be known, but rather a feeling or experience for which we want to be remembered.” Unlike other firms that have established themselves based on a certain aesthetic their clients must prescribe to, A2 Studios interprets each client’s personality and aesthetic preferences into a cohesive design concept. “At the end of the day, we don’t own the project when it’s finished. The client is ultimately the one who has to occupy our creation.” Whitesides said. Using a client-friendly approach has proven to be advantageous throughout the recession for this boutique-sized studio. Each principal’s unique skill set allows the team to take on almost any project. This has produced a diverse portfolio, including commercial, mixed-use, custom residential, winery, hospitality, ecclesiastical and public works, and has created job opportunities that would otherwise not exist. They continue to re-evaluate their business methods, implementing new approaches such as col- laborating with other design firms to take on new sectors, or teaming up with general contractors to form design/build teams. Marketing themselves towards recession-friendly niches like hospitality and small renovation projects has also proven beneficial. STAN JOHNSON POOL CONSTRUCTION In Windsor, Calif., specialty swimming pool design, construction and maintenance isn’t handled by a large corporation or an unqualified opportunist. All aspects are under the vision one man, Stan Johnson, and his company, Stan Johnson Pool Construction. Since the late 1980’s, Johnson has been working in the design and construction of complex, custom pool systems in the nearby area. With every single project, each client works directly with Johnson to achieve their dream pool system. Much more than just a passive owner, Johnson is on-site with the client every step of the way, helping to see the client’s vision come to fruition and to ensure that his top-quality standards of design and construction are met. Their vast range of design, supplies and services extend into the frequent maintenance, renovation and remodeling of the client’s pool system. With a focus on durability and aesthetics, Stan Johnson has maintained the experience, the portfolio and the dedication to quality service in order to stand proud as the premier local pool contractor. See ad on page 98. ABOVE: Healdsburg House. This Mid-Century Modern remodel captures the essence of its design era. The footprint of the house creates a courtyard to the interior that elevates the importance of the landscaping and the pool. The original pool was demolished and rebuilt by Stan Johnson Pool Construction and Renovation. A deep-blue plaster was selected to bring the water to life. The custom coping is a pre-fabricated black concrete tile designed to be flush with the surrounding grass landscape. The automatic cover was installed to be completely concealed when open, and travels over the integrated hot tub near the entry stair at one end of the pool. Photo by Jack Journey. ABOVE: Healdsburg House. As with any Mid-Century modern home, great importance is placed on bringing the outdoors in. Here the interior space is focused on the courtyard through long expanses of sliding doors and fixed glass panels. All door and window systems by Milgard, offered an affordable system with a slim design profile, mimicking the original design intent from the 1950’s. While architecture is the studio’s main focus, this creative trio decided to incorporate their other love into the business -- art. Infusing graphic design and photography into their repertoire gives them an added edge not commonly found in other firms. When asked about their decision to incorporate photography into the firm, Whitesides said that like architecture, photography is meant to evoke emo- tion, whether clients realize that or not. In addition, the trio has found that graphic design provides a creative outlet that has played an important role in the studio’s development. Having discovered her passion for prints, textures and design at a young age, Whitesides said that being able to fuse those skills in the practical application of graphic design has not only benefited A2 Studios but also their fellow contractors to whom they often market these services. “Even though contractors may be able to construct a high level of finish and design, they often do not have the ability to present and market their services with an identity that matches the quality of their practical skill set.” Garcia said. “Graphic design and photography follow many of the same design principles as architecture and the three of us are able to integrate all of our skills and strengths to broaden the type of projects we take on.” Continuing to branch out from commercial ventures, A2 Studios also gives back to the community. As students at ASU, Garcia, Stroop and Whitesides worked with Habitat for Humanity. In 2007 Stroop traveled to Phnom Penh, Cambodia to build homes for Habitat’s Global Village Program. As part of her graduate architecture degree, Whitesides and the University of Washington’s design/ build team built an elementary school and a womens’ clinic for a squatter community in Mexico. Most recently, the studio has donated design services to be auctioned off. Both past and current philanthropic experiences have allowed each partner to form personal connections with people and MILGARD When the Healdsburg community decided to go green for its latest affordable housing project, the design team led by BAR Architects in San Francisco made windows and doors a priority—and energy efficiency was just one reason why. Tasked with developing a total of 64 affordable family apartments in one of the area’s busier neighborhoods, the challenge became how to make them both sustainable and peaceful. For this, BAR turned to Milgard’s Montecito and QuietLine vinyl windows, which provided the perfect complement of style, noise reduction, weather protection and energy efficiency. Javco Windows & Glass Contractors of Napa did the installation, which also included Milgard’s efficient and low maintenance Ultra fiberglass patio doors. For more information about Milgard please visit www.milgard.com. See ad on page 98. 6 Architecture Leaders Today west | hospitality May/June 2011 7 hospitality | west
  9. 9. ABOVE: Lasseter Family Winery. Custom detailing to scallop the catwalk around the tanks dismisses the need for guardrails and brings the winemaker closer to their creations. LEFT: Principals Vince Stroop, Jessie Whitesides and Tony Garcia. OPPOSITE: The winery’s custom built barn slider doors, by Portal Architectural Openings, are a signature statement for the Lasseter Family Winery. The barn style doors allow the fermenta- tion and barrel rooms at the winery to be open to the covered crushpad without interference of a swinging door leaf. The doors are designed using fully insulated door panels to maintain the critical temperatures inside the building. They are clad with a stained Western Red Cedar on the exterior to express a traditional Northern California barn aesthetic, while the interior finish is a custom color metal panel detailed to match the interior building walls. The black iron metal strapping and decorative cla- vos by Rocky Mountain Hardware, give the door an authentic look. PORTAL ARCHITECTURAL OPENINGS Since 1996, Portal Openings has provided consulting, sales and installation of exceptional doors, hardware and windows to the Napa area. Portal’s own proprietary designs for oversized doors for the wine and high- end residential industries draw leading architects in Calif. These architects rely on Portal Openings’ extensive experience to solve their challenging door projects. For more information, visit www.portalopenings.com. See ad on page 97. organizations that have helped them grow. These relationships have led the studio to places like Moscow, Russia, where Stroop designed the public spaces for a 40-story office and high-end retail complex. A2 Studios strives to implement eco-friendly design methods with all projects. Whitesides said she and the team educate clients about the benefits of eco-friendly products. “I have completed numerous projects with prefabricated steel structures where the structural steel is made from recycled material,” Whitesides said. “The erection time is a lot faster than traditional building methods, and the exterior materials used with these types of buildings is much more energy- efficient than those with regular batt insulation and siding.” Beginning as a team of architects, designers, collaborators and friends, A2 Studios continues to stay at the front of the industry. Looking to the future and continually developing their brand of client-friendly architecture, A2 Studios will grow its influence on the very industry that inspired this team to become what they are today- artists, architects and philanthropists. ALT 8 Architecture Leaders Today west | hospitality May/June 2011 9 hospitality | west
  10. 10. A2 Studioswww.asquaredstudios.com asquared@asquaredstudios.com SANTA ROSA 642 5TH ST. SANTA ROSA, CA 95404 707.569.9358 NEW YORK 106 W. 28TH ST STE 2 NEW YORK, NY 10001 619.251.4999 SAN DIEGO 3788 PARK BLVD STE 6 SAN DIEGO, CA 92103 619.688.2606 Photo by Jack Journey
  11. 11. 66 SAN DIEGO HOME/GARDEN LIFESTYLES • JUNE 2011 JUNE 2011 • sandiegohomegarden.com 67 KITCHENS OF THE YEAR SMALL KITCHEN THE CHALLENGE AT HAND in this “Coast­ al Reboot” of a 4,000­square­foot home in La Jolla Shores was to modernize the interiors — especially the kitchen — while not creating a stark or cold feel in the design. The house was built in the mid­1960s, and had undergone just one minor remodel in the ’80s, says Tony Garcia, design principal in charge at A2 Studios in Hillcrest. “Modernizing was the big goal,” says Garcia, “not just with the appliances but with the aesthetics. This was a very traditional style of house, but now it has a clean, modern aesthetic and still has a warm feeling to it.” Garcia aimed to create a new flow to the space, so that rooms were no longer as compartmentalized, and the kitchen was in more of a central location. The primary step taken to that end was Island FeverA sleek, modern design creates better flow BY RON DONOHO • PHOTOGRAPHY BY A2 STUDIOS to essentially flip­flop the pre­existing kitchen and dining rooms. The kitchen design incorporates a plethora of concealed storage, and is organized around a central island that functions as the main cooking space. The island also divides an informal “beverage station” from the rest of the kitchen. The cooking side of the island includes a Miele induction cooktop, steam oven and built­in refrigerator. “The use of space, storage, and mate­ rials makes this small kitchen functional and beautiful,” says Kitchens of the Year judge Robin Wilson Carrier, design princi­ pal at Robin Wilson Interior Design. “The low wall of tile at the sink serves not only as a backsplash but as an interesting textured feature wall providing an op­ portunity to hide dishes in the sink from view.” ◆ WHERE TO FIND IT, PAGE 122 Above: The kitchen is designed around a central island that divides the cooking space from the “informal” side of the space. Left: The light-colored surfaces, dark stone flooring and warmth of the cabinets create a unique, contrasting blend. Design Principal: Tony Garcia A2 Studios Inc.
  12. 12. 56 San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles • September 2011 September 2011 • sandiegohomegarden.com 57 Homes A Breeze Runs Through ItA new home design embraces San Diego Bay … and energy efficiency By Eva Ditler • Photography by Martin Mann With a striking view of the bay and beyond, it’s no wonder that Pete and Jen Lobner decided to add a third level with a deck to their Point Loma home. 56 San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles • September 2011 September 2011 • sandiegohomegarden.com 57
  13. 13. 58 San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles • September 2011 September 2011 • sandiegohomegarden.com 59 eat rises. So why is it that on an unusually sweltering day in Point Loma, Pete and Jen Lobner are relaxing in the family room on the top floor of their tri-level residence when they could just as easily take their elevator down to the garage level and relax in the library/den there? “Passive cooling plays a big role,” says Tony Garcia, a design principal at A2 Studios. “We have a pocketing multiple-leaf door system. The opening is expansive bringing the indoors out and pulling the exterior deck space, just off that family room, in.A roof overhang provides protection to the interior and the deck space, so you are able to have this open during summer months and get an amazing breeze — and no heat accumulation — because the entire interior space is being shaded.” The energy efficiency of flow-through ventilation is a great reason to be upstairs in the heat of summer, but it’s the unobstructed 180-degree bay view that makes it the place everyone wants to hang out — summer or winter, day or night. “If you asked, ‘What’s the best feature of the house?’ the upstairs space is it,” says Pete. “There’s a 650-square-foot deck, and the upstairs family room and living space equal another 450 square feet, which creates a 1,100-square-foot area with a great view.” Creating this third level was the couple’s primary objective when they bought the house. Originally a two-story home with a ground level and a garage underneath, the house had a loose Spanish Mediterranean look with peach-toned exterior and white windows. “Flow through the original house was poor, the result of two renovations prior,” says Pete. “It had no street presence at all and no real architectural style. We told Tony we wanted a modern house, but a modern/contemporary house, not post-modern and not edgy contemporary.” An angled metal roof above the office gives the ordinary square home some needed attitude from the exterior. Switching the tired peach hue to a subtle gray green and stepping up the old stucco to a siding combo of hand-troweled, smooth-finished stucco and fiber cement with galvanized trim vamps the residence with a more modern aesthetic — plus the materials are low-maintenance and marine-environment friendly. “Lighting on the building exterior is subtle to give it some intensity and highlight the shapes and forms,” says Garcia. “Narrow lights go down the entrance door, which is a dual door system.The nice thing is,when both are open,you view the gallery space and this provides a continuation of indoors to outdoors and to the landing out there.” What Garcia and the homeowners refer to as the gallery space “we wanted a modern house, buta modern/contemporary house, notpost-modern and notedgy contemporary.”The entrance hallway connects all the main spaces, such as the dining area, and does double duty as a gallery for the Lobner’s art collection. • H
  14. 14. 60 San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles • September 2011 September 2011 • sandiegohomegarden.com 61 is actually an entrance hallway where inconspicuous, flexible ceiling lights (“they can flip from 0 to 90 degrees, rotate 360 degrees and have dual-use movement,” says Garcia) showcases artwork hanging on a strip extending the entire length of the hallway. “With this clip system, when they want to change what they have hanging, there’s no hammering and nailing into walls,” says Garcia. The dining/living space is on one side of the “gallery” and the kitchen is on the other. “You can see the kitchen via the gallery when you enter,” says Garcia.“We created a seating area at counter height but integrated a bar seating area that’s higher as well, so that from the gallery you are concealing the working part of the island, like the sink for example.” Jen says they went about the interior design of the kitchen up, lead to the office space and the home’s main attractions — the top floor’s family/media room and bayside terrace — and, going down, lead to the tertiary rooms, the “brains” of the integrated home-audio system and the garage. To the east of the stairway is the master suite, which can be closed off from the rest of the house via a sliding door; to the west are the elevator and the guest bedroom/bath. Beyond the stairway to the south is a bright and cheery morning room. Both the morning room and the master bedroom have sliding doors leading to the backyard terrace. “We wanted to create a secluded area, opposite to what we created on the deck, which is exposed and open,” says Garcia. “In this rear yard, the neighbors are at a higher elevation so they can look down into the backyard. We provided a privacy shield with fast-growing bamboo.” backwards by choosing the Verdi Tropical granite before choosing paint colors or cabinetry. “It has a strong green with red accents,” she says. “We selected cherry cabinets because its slight reddish tint brings out the red in the granite. We opted for gray floor tiles and a gray-green paint cast because it also goes well with the granite.” Both the kitchen and the dining/living area offer bay views that stretch from the Coronado Bridge to downtown and beyond. “We didn’t want a separate room called a living room, but we wanted a space, a lounge area where we could sit in comfort downstairs,” says Jen. “We bought a contemporary two-piece sofa that forms a semi circle when you put them together, so we have those at the front window facing each other. Then I really wanted a square dining table because that shape makes for easier conversation than a rectangular table. The table is a perfect fit in the space that we have and it can seat up to 10 people.” At the other end of the hallway are floating stairs that, going “We love that we have no grass,” says Pete. “We used to have two acres and a lawn tractor and we vowed no grass here. Instead we have accent landscaping and bamboo to provide a screen from the neighbors.” The backyard is divided into two areas by a sliding barn door. One side is the utility area, which includes the inverter for the solar system. It can be hidden from view by closing the door. The other area is a sanctuary with a fireplace and breakfast table. “There’s accent lighting highlighting the horsetail and the palm and it looks very nice at night,” says Jen. “Just before I go to sleep, I look out to the backyard and it makes me feel like I’m in a resort.” ◆ Where to find it, page 124 To enter our Homes of the Year contest, visit sandiegohomegarden.com In contrast to the top-floor deck, the backyard is a calm, comforting space in which to escape the workaday world. The upstairs family room encourages lingering and relaxing. Exterior lighting reveals the home’s strength of form. Jen and Pete Lobner Good Practice “When Pete and Jen Lobner came to us,”saysTony Garcia of A2 Studios, “they were conscious of green-sustainable practices and wanted to introduce some of these practices where they could in design and layout.” Here’s some of what was done to make the residence more eco-friendly: • Fifty percent of the original footprint was maintained. • The home was built in an appropriate size and scale, so there’s no energy waste due to overbuilding. • Passive heating and cooling strategies, which included high-value insulation, low-E windows, sliding doors for flow-through ventila- tion and large overhangs, were utilized. • A 2.5 KW solar electric grid-connected system was installed. • A design was incorporated to provide as much natural daylight as possible thereby rendering artificial light as unnecessary during daylight hours. • Energy Star-rated appliances were purchased. • A tankless hot-water heater replaced a conventional water heater. • Durable, low-maintenance materials such as HardiePlank fiber cement siding were installed. • Drought-tolerant landscaping was introduced. • Space was utilized to avoid waste — even a small connecting space between the gallery and guest bedroom was used for storage. • An elevator accommodates sustainable longevity — a sort of aging-in-place idea.
  15. 15. COASTALSANDIEGOHOMES 17 SATURDAY,OCTOBER15,2011•THESANDIEGOUNION-TRIBUNE LOOKING OUT, LOOKING IN SOPHY CHAFFEE SPECIALTO THE U-T Y ou’d think the only view to give Merrilee Ekstrom pause would be the panoramic vista of the Pacific Ocean from the decks and west-facing windows of her hilltop Point Loma home. But the thoughtful, airy design of her modern U- shaped home affords many compelling views, especially through the floor-to-ceiling windows that look out to the interior courtyard. From the windows in the hall- way and the master suite, the view is straight across the courtyard to the kids’ wing, which looks like an art gallery, as well as to an exterior trellis made of aluminum conduit pipes. The open plan also invites you to stand in one room and see how the design flows into the next space. The color of blue glass tile on the kitchen island is carried to the walls of the adjoining dining room. From the steps AIRY DESIGN FLOWS THROUGHOUT U-SHAPED HOME SEEPOINT LOMA • 18 Merrilee and Timothy Ekstrom’s Point Loma living room (above) and the courtyard (left) are perfect for parties. “The court- yard gives them a place to entertain, and it gives them protec- tion from the coastal winds, which can be brutal,” said architect Tony Garcia. K.C. ALFRED • U-T photos
  16. 16. COASTALSANDIEGOHOMES 18 leading from the living room to the kitch- en, your eyes travel up to the Douglas fir beams and the oversized pendant lights on the kitchen ceiling. “Wherever you stand, you get a really cool piece of the house,” Ekstrom said. In 2008, she and husband, Timothy, re- modeled their 1,400-square-foot, single- story home, doubling the size by adding what is now the living room and children’s wing onto the previously L-shaped home. “There were pieces of the old house that we loved,” she said. “We were able to just update and bring them to life.” By turning the L-shaped home into a U-shaped one, A2 Studios architects Tony Garcia and Vince Stroop fulfilled much of theEkstroms’wishlist.Theycreatedasep- aratespacefortheirtwochildren,madethe kitchen a gathering point, and designed a concretecourtyardthatservesasanentry- way,entertainingspaceand,unexpectedly, a great place for scooter races. Their single-story design also pays homage to two architectural styles im- portant to San Diego and inspirational to Ekstrom, a retail executive with a design background.“It’samoderninterpretation of a Spanish courtyard,” she said. “I per- sonally just love Cliff May. We got a lot of inspiration from him.” The indoor-outdoor living that May, fa- ther of the California Ranch Home, cham- pioned is especially evident in the living room and kitchen, where French doors open to the courtyard. “It’s the heart of the house, and you get the play of the in- side/outside,” Garcia said. Retractable doors in the living room open to the lower deck, one gateway to the Pacific views. (The upper deck, just a few steps up from the lower deck, can be accessed through the dining room). “I can’t underplay the ocean view,” Ekstrom said. “It’s striking. We have a family ritual. Every night we say ‘sunset’ and run out (to the deck).” The materials set the modern, but com- fortable, tone of the house. “I didn’t want it to be cold,” Ekstrom explained. “I love the modern aesthetic. I love the clean sim- plicity to it. But there’s not any part of my personality that’s cold or sterile.” DesignerEstebanLopezworkedclosely with Ekstrom and A2 Studios, choosing finishes that looked crisp, not sterile, and were kid-friendly. The custom kitchen countertops and deep sink are concrete. The steps from the kitchen to the living room are a seamless CaesarStone. Sur- prisingly, the family-friendly flooring that the design team chose for the kitchen, liv- ing and dining rooms is a white ceramic tile with a limestone feel. “Who, as a mother of two, with a hus- band who surfs and two dogs, signs up for a white floor?” Ekstrom joked. “But it’s an incredibly durable floor. I just vacuum and mop it once a week. (Without it), the house wouldn’t have this feel.” The design team was careful to repeat finishes throughout the house to create a cohesive feel. The Venetian stucco around the double-sided fireplace in the kitchen and living room also appears on the west- facing kitchen wall. The tile flooring con- tinues in the hallways and bathrooms. Wood was added to counteract the cold- ness of the tile – sometimes in surprising ways, such as the white cedar ceiling in the living room. “That’s where a lot of the inspiration came from,” Garcia said. “We knew we were going to do low-mainte- nance surfaces. So we thought, ‘Let’s put wood onto the ceiling.’ ” The cabinets in the kitchen and two of the three bathrooms are dark palm wood veneer. Walnut flooring is used in all four bedrooms – the master and guest bedrooms in the north wing of the house and the two kids’ bedrooms in the south wing. The wood selections also tie the front of the property to the back. The “sunset decks” are made of Ipe, as is the street- side fencing at the front of the court- yard. Ekstrom said passers-by often peak over the fence, curious about the unusual rooflines. “We’ve given a few impromptu tours.” Given her pride in the house, it’s not surprising she’s happy to play tour guide. “I’msoproudofhowcomfortableitis,how it feels here. Yet it is a beautiful home.” SophyChaffeeisanEncinitas-basedfreelance writer. H o u se PointLoma CONTINUEDFROM17 The blue of glass tile on the kitchen island (left) is picked up in walls of the dining room, which has a Jonathon Adler chandelier. The living room’s floating shelves and white cedar ceiling are a focal point from the kitchen (right). K.C. ALFRED • U-T photos SATURDAY,OCTOBER15,2011•THESANDIEGOUNION-TRIBUNE