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IT WASN’T MONETARY REWARD or a flexible schedule that enticed Elizabeth Pritscher-Lewis to become a California real estate agent. She took on the challenge of getting her real estate license because she was determined to hunt down the perfect La Jolla house for her family — “one with character,” she says.

It took five years, but Elizabeth and her husband, Simon, finally were charmed by a La Jolla Farms home designed by noted modernist architect Dale Naegle, famed locally for his “Shopkeeper Homes” in La Jolla Shores and The Bell Pavilion (also known as the “Mushroom House”) along the bluffs of Black’s Beach.

“Dale and the homeowners, Hans and Ruth Suess, were friends,” Elizabeth says. “The architect built this house for them based on an Austrian stable design. The homeowners were originally from Austria.

“We love that the home has had only one homeowner before us,” she continues, “and we love the UCSD connection. [Hans was one of the four founding faculty members of the University of California, San Diego.] We met Walter Munk [world-renowned oceanographer and icon at UCSD], who said this was the party house for all the UCSD professors.”

Built in the mid-’60s, the concrete-block home with its sprawling L-shaped floor plan, covered walkway and courtyard space amplified its ranch hacienda influences when Ruth covered up the concrete floors with red Sausalito tile and installed a red-clay tile roof.

““Elizabeth fell in love with the Spanish incarnation of the home and Simon adored the modern architecture,” says designer Tatiana Machado-Rosas of Jackson Design and Remodeling. “They ended up with the best of both worlds.”

Contemporary artwork throughout the house and the consistency of white walls melded with dark wood helps fuse the contemporary kitchen/dining area (where Simon, the head family chef, is king) and the Spanish flavor elsewhere.

“Retaining the tile flooring in the living room was extremely important to Elizabeth,” Tatiana says. “Here, the main idea was just to keep it as open as possible.”

Resealing the floor and repainting the blue hue between the heavy wooden beams of the 14-foot ceiling was almost all that needed to be done in the living area. But to create a cleaner look, two bookshelves opposite the corner beehive fireplace were removed. To further lighten what was a dreary space, a chandelier that emitted dim candlelight was replaced. And since the home has no privacy issues, draperies were eliminated from the living room’s expansive windows. The large panes of glass are wood framed and have operable wood panels below. Dominating the walls on either side of the home, they turn the courtyard and back yard into extensions of the house.

Reconfiguring a bedroom, bathroom, dining area and cave-like galley kitchen made allowance for a new powder room, a convenient mudroom/pantry combination and a kitchen/dining space triple the size of the original. Tile flooring was jackhammered out of the new kitchen/dining area so that concrete could be installed to “bring back Dale’s original vision,” Elizabeth says.

“Because we have two children, we decided to go with quartz on the kitchen countertops. It’s an easier material to maintain and take care of. We put this vein of calacatta marble behind and beside the stove, which is like a piece of built-in art. We used the leftover marble for a desk that’s tucked in behind the kitchen’s French doors.”

Navigating through the residence was problematic before the remodel. Bedrooms could only be reached through an exterior corridor. To solve this dilemma, a new interior hallway was added.

The makeover has given Elizabeth and Simon a functional house that provides an open, relaxing atmosphere. Their children, ages 9 and 7, often have their playmates visit. It’s not unusual to see youngsters running from the courtyard through the home to the back yard. And when Elizabeth and Simon entertain, guests can sit in the contemporary dining space with its Barcelona lounging chairs or enjoy the romance of the traditional dining area on the other side of the barn-style doors.

“Anyone else who bought this house might have wanted to tear it down and build a mansion on this three-quarters of an acre lot situated at the end of a cul de sac,” Elizabeth says. “But I would have been so sad to see this Dale Naegel post-and-beam house destroyed.”


A makeover unites a trio of spaces

DESIGNER DEBORAH GORDON merged a dining room, patio and living room into one contemporary, unified space for a client who requested a room that would be an “entertainer’s dream.”

Glacier white walls energize the space, but Deborah ramped it up even more with a persimmon accent wall, dollops of persimmon on two chairs and a flash of dark persimmon from a corner floor vase.

“To give the three once distinctly different spaces continuity, we added architectural ceiling beams to the entire footprint and brought in an espresso hand-scraped hardwood floor,” she says.

The room was dressed with custom pieces from around the globe. Two modern peek-through chairs serve as dividers between the living and dining areas. A 10-by-4.5-foot dining table made from an acacia log was sourced from Indonesia. And to dazzle guests, Deborah brought in two glittering antique silver chandeliers with crystal beading.

Two 9-foot-long glass doors that open onto a new patio fill the room with light. The remodeled space won the 2013 National Kitchen & Bath Association San Diego Chapter Star Award in the Other Room category.

Before & After: By Eva Ditler • Photography by David Verdugo





BEFORE THE REDO, there wasn’t much privacy for Ciro Delgadillo’s clients when lolling on their patio. That’s because the houses are clustered so closely together in their area of Pacific Beach that the neighbors may as well be living with each other. In this case, the house next door loomed over the pool, practically colliding with the backyard wall.

Even though it was easy for the folks next door to ogle, there wasn’t much for them to envy. Materials were outdated and landscaping was nonexistent — unless you counted the one lonely palm tree stuck in a bucket at the pool’s south end.

“There was a clear underutilization of space and unrealized potential in the old design/layout,” Ciro says. “The client wanted an outdoor kitchen, relaxation areas with comfortable furniture and a dining area. The pool needed a redesign for a more contemporary style and had to be made more shallow to accommodate grandchildren.”

Collaborating with Ciro’s Landscaping Inc. designers Henry Hong and Kelvin Ching, Ciro turned the patio space into an exotic personal playground with a tropical feel. Kentia and king palms were planted along with bird of paradise and large, shade-loving tropical shrubs such as Aucuba japonica ‘Variegata,’ philodendron ‘Xanadu,’ Phorium tenax ‘Yellow Wave’ and leather leaf ferns. Quartzite flagstone in gold hues of Autumn and Sunset replaced red-brick paving, while whitewashed wood decking was replaced with easier-to-maintain concrete.

“We created individual activity and living areas with new paving at varying elevations,” Ciro says. “The variation in the flagstone nicely ties in the new color scheme of greens, burnt oranges, reds, browns and subtle yellow tones, as well as complements the color scheme of the newly painted house.”

A cascading water feature creates a focal point at the pool’s south wall. At the pool’s east end, a double counter was built: one side for casual dining, overlooking the pool; the other a swim-up bar with built-in barstools.

Too bad the neighbors no longer can take a peek. They’d have something to be envious about now.

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Before & After: By Eva Ditler • Photography by Martin Mann



WHEN A FIRE RAVAGED an Encinitas residence, the homeowner asked architect Bill Currier to cosmetically change the late-’60s, beach-cottage bungalow to a Craftsman style.

“I had the existing house plan,” says John, the homeowner. “And although I could have gone bigger and made a second story, I decided to keep it within the realm of what the community would still like. Rather than build a monstrosity, I kept it a ranch home; but I improved on what I had.”

The exterior, which had been wood shingle and stucco, now is composite siding with an updated but similar version of its original green color.

“I wanted the house and the landscaping to blend with the environment,” John says. “The colors play off the landscape. It was important to me that the home was a fit in the community and landscape. Kent Horner of C&H Gardens helped with that.”

Drought-tolerant plants and shrubs replaced thirsty grass. A few semitropical blooms were planted as well. “We used kangaroo paws for vertical color and movement, Agave attenuata for simplicity and symmetry, prostrate rosemary for groundcover and ‘Barbara Karst’ bougainvillea for color and interest,” Kent says. “We included flax, or Phormium tenax, to provide height without overwhelming the structure. We also used black aeoneum and crassula for drought-tolerant plants of color and Dracena marginata for a sculptural look. Thevetia peruviana was planted for a splash of yellow and green.”

Because John wanted the residence to be sited as though it were in a rustic, natural landscape, sandstone boulders from the Elfin Forest and San Marcos area were strategically placed, and plants were installed around the rocks.

“I wanted the hardscape to coordinate and play off the house itself,” John says. “The colors in the rock and column would play off the small pebble that we had that looks like a crushed version from the columns themselves. “Within a year, I recreated the house and moved in. I was involved with everything, every step along the way.”

Before & After: By Eva Ditler • Photography by Martin Mann




A do-over of a bad hardscape installation reinforces a patio's value

When you hear the words “heaving” and “hard-scape” combined in the description of a patio, it’s not a good thing. But that’s exactly how Brad Woodford of Bradley Landscape depicts his La Jolla client’s pool area before it was remodeled.

“The hardscape was poorly installed,” he says. “Wall footings were undersized and without proper rebar reinforcement. Concrete was poured on soil without proper compac-tion and also did not have rebar. The entire area was heaving and had shifted, causing cracks in the concrete and walls.”

Yikes. A huge chunk of the original wall by the pool was 12 feet tall. You don’t have to be in Jericho to imagine that tumbling down while you’re floating by on an inflatable raft, slurping your third piña colada.

“All of the soil had to be reworked and properly compacted, and new walls were engineered,” Brad says.

About half as tall as the previous, dreary gray granite wall, the pool’s new wall is fashioned of Autumn Gold ledger stone, capped with Southern Buff limestone. It’s better looking; doesn’t totally block the sun; and unites the patio space with the upper-deck spa area, which also had problems.

“Once we began the process of changing out the redwood on the upper deck, we found that the subframing had been installed incorrectly,” Brad says. “It wasn’t pressure-treated lumber, so it had rotted in many places. We ran the new redwood decking parallel, which lengthens the area visually.”

The new deck also cantilevers out over the slope, giving the client an additional 3 feet of space from the house out to the glass railing.

More space was obtained poolside by removing withered palm trees. After all, what’s the point of lazing around the pool if there’s no room for lazing-about patio furnishings?


Photo above: A new stone wall in softer, earth-tone hues ties into other landscape elements in a La Jolla remodeling project by Bradley Landscape. Adding patio space by the pool allowed room for more furniture, such as the outdoor dining set shown above from One | Stop Furniture & Patio.

Before photo shown at right.



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Toque Talk


As someone who pays attention to cooking with healthy ingredients, I’ve used amaranth flour. Bernard Guillas, executive chef of The Marine Room in La Jolla, trumps me with the homonymous amaranth flower. He used one to garnish the best crab cake I’ve ever eaten.

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