Best Small Master Bath
Design team: Tony Garcia, Vince Stroop and Anja Aigner-Morris
Photography by A2
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
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
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“A nice combination of form and function”
— juror Ken Clark
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
San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles March 2009 51
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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
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
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
48_55_Kitchens_1109.indd 51 10/6/09 11:18 AM
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
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
Founded in Friendship
For college friends Tony Garcia, Jessie Whitesides
and Vince Stroop, opening collaborative design studio
Studios has been a dream come true.
by Marylyn Simpson
2 Architecture Leaders Today
west | hospitality
May/June 2011 3
hospitality | west
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 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
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
“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
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.
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
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
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.
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,
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.
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
642 5TH ST.
SANTA ROSA, CA 95404
106 W. 28TH ST STE 2
NEW YORK, NY 10001
3788 PARK BLVD STE 6
SAN DIEGO, CA 92103
Photo by Jack Journey
66 SAN DIEGO HOME/GARDEN LIFESTYLES • JUNE 2011 JUNE 2011 • sandiegohomegarden.com 67
KITCHENS OF THE YEAR
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
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
“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
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
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.
56 San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles • September 2011 September 2011 • sandiegohomegarden.com 57
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
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
“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
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
“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.
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,”
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
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
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
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 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
“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
“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
• 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
• 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
LOOKING OUT, LOOKING IN
SPECIALTO THE U-T
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
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
K.C. ALFRED • U-T photos
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
kitchen a gathering point, and designed a
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
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.”
with Ekstrom and A2
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
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-
Ekstrom said passers-by often peak
over the fence, curious about the unusual
rooﬂines. “We’ve given a few impromptu
Given her pride in the house, it’s not
surprising she’s happy to play tour guide.
it feels here. Yet it is a beautiful home.”
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