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THE SOMEWHAT VERTICAL ASCENT up Mount Helix to this Home of the Year owned by Susan and Lawrence McIntosh feels a little like a trek up K2 without the ice. On arrival, the site flattens out and you understand the desire to be at the top … a sweeping view from Tijuana to the ocean.

From the driveway, it’s apparent that the garage is tucked away under the house, leaving most of the living space on the main level. You are confronted by three roof angles, intersecting planes that define the separate public and private functions of the house and, in the words of architect Scot Frontis, “stretch out over the horizon to the south and west as if a bird was about to take flight off a cliff.” Indeed, hawks swoop beyond the edge of the infinity pool. Owls visit from surrounding canyons.

The entry walkway mysteriously hides the view until you come inside the house and are drawn through the living room to an even broader perspective poolside. The axis from the front door is directly in line with the Coronado Islands in the distance. Multi-slide doors disappear into the walls in every room, except the media room/theater, to capture compelling vistas.

Frontis’ design of the house grew out of its incredibly sloped site and entailed a study of the trajectory of the sun. Two 8-foot-high curved retaining walls create area for a 3,500-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 3 ½-bath house. A third retaining wall establishes the outdoor spaces and infinity pool. The angles and extension of broad roof overhangs are designed so no direct light hits the interior spaces reducing heat gain and glare during warmer seasons, and yet a low sun enhances the interior in winter.

The living room ceiling soars to 18 feet, while the kitchen is more intimate ranging from 8 feet to 14 feet high in the breakfast area. Golden granite counters and Koa wood cabinets warm the minimalism of the kitchen and rich forest green granite adds luxury to the master bath. Guest bedrooms and baths are downstairs.

Interior designer Kathy Abell of Designed Interiors worked with homeowner Susan McIntosh to complement the strong features of the architecture. Abell incorporated an inviting custom curved sofa mirroring the curves of the pool, and upholstered ottomans and chairs to soften the linear lines.

“One of my highest priorities in design is to create spaces where conversation and time with family and friends flows easily,” says Abell.

A cool color palette of ocean blues and apple greens again references the vanishing-edge pool as does the surface of a table with a watery scraped finish.

“Our design team enjoyed the view, sunshine and summer breeze while working on the house like we were at an exclusive resort,” enthuses Abell.

Homeowners Susan and Larry McIntosh say that “after years of research and dreaming, we finally found a home that met all our needs. Everyday is a beautiful day here … sunrise, daytime, dusk, evening … always something different and enchanting.”

For this first residential collaboration between architect Frontis and contractor Monte Mattson, who owned the house when it was first designed, it was all about the site. “But Monte wanted something beyond that,” says Frontis, “something with positivity that was uplifting … and the roof forms are an inspiration from that idea.”

Looking out over the view, Frontis and Mattson aspired to a sort of Hollywood hills star quality and to their satisfaction have been judged an award winner.


Homes of the Year: By Phyllis Van Doren • Photography by Martin Mann

September 11, 2014

A Vision In Blue

in Home Features
The blue lagoon that is La Jolla Cove stretches across gentle waves to the coastline of La Jolla Shores and has been one of San Diego's most popular destinations since the 1880s. The expanse of azure surrounded by sandstone cliffs also is one of the most photographed parts of San Diego County. It is hard to imagine, then, a condominium focused on this view with any other inspiration for the makeover of its…
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Tropical Tranquility

in Garden
The grounds around a home in Del Mar transport the owners and visitors to virtual islands When Howard Appel decided "to bring Hawaii to Del Mar," he wasn't talking about typical resort-style landscaping for his ocean-view home.
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San Diego's Art Movement

in Lifestyle
Much has changed in the realm of cultural creativity over the past few decades Who could have foreseen 35 years ago that San Diego would beat New York, San Francisco and Toronto on the arts and culture playing field? Certainly many longtime residents could not. But the fact that Business Destinations, a luxury magazine for corporate travelers, gave San Diego its 2013 award for North America's Best Destination for…
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Depth Perception

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Use Your Noodles

in RECIPES
Asian noodle dishes — comfort food from countries like Vietnam, Thailand, China and Japan — spark lunch and dinner with international flavors. Try these recipes to enjoy mouthwatering blends of savory, sweet and spicy flavors. Look in local Asian markets for ingredients not in typical grocery stores.
Jul 31, 2014

Fig Bread Pudding

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Rouge, Blanc & Bleu

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And the Beat Goes On

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I suspect that when Canadian architect Arthur Erickson designed the San Diego Convention Center he gave little, if any, thought to the possibility that some 25 years later the lobby’s acoustics would be unbearable for people with no hearing loss during the gathering of an enthusiastically charged drum circle of people over the age of 50, whom I can only guess must have some degree of hearing loss.
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