On The Boardwalk
Homes: By Ann Jarmusch Photography by Gary Payne
On the Boardwalk
A family of five is having some fun in a house built for beauty, durability and ease of maintenance
Living in jam-packed and popular Mission Beach offers many seaside pleasures, but, with most homes built within inches of each other, privacy is rarely one of them.
Yet a recently remodeled two-story house on the busy, if not boisterous, boardwalk has made peace with its surroundings for an active family of five. The great room — a sweeping open space with 17 feet of folding glass doors that face the ocean — nearly fills the second floor, high above the parade of public partyers, joggers and kids with kites. Three first-floor bedrooms have been soundproofed and their windows installed higher than usual, to avoid the curious eyes of countless strangers.
These design strategies, by Scot Frontis of Frontis + Young Architecture, go a long way toward taming the inevitable din, according to the genial owner.
“I enjoy a lack of privacy, too,” the owner says about life in his Mission Beach home with its very public fire pit, patio adjacent to the boardwalk and roof deck. “We just love San Diego. It’s very fun, extremely unpretentious, outdoorsy and geared to athleticism. Mission Beach is full of mostly upbeat people on vacation, so (we’re all here to) have a good time.”
Low perimeter walls around the patio are designed for sitting and socializing or just watching the surf. The low, front gate’s paneled wood matches the recessed front door; the patio’s imitation-travertine porcelain pavers march into and through the house, except for the bedrooms, where the family chose carpet for softer footing.
The 20-inch-square pavers are greener than genuine travertine, require less maintenance and stand up to sand tracked in by the family’s 10 feet, says the home’s contractor, Ryan Jantz. “I don’t do any wood floors at the beach,” he adds.
The owners blended Frontis’ sleek, contemporary architecture designed for maximum ocean and bay views with comfy furnishings, cherry cabinetry and bath mosaic tiles in earth tones that combine what interior designer Stephanie Parisi of MaisonSoleil describes as a “beachy and natural feel” with “a little bit of the rustic.” Case in point: The rough-hewn, sand-colored bands of ledgerstone surrounding the great room’s fireplace and first-floor wet bar. In color and texture, the layered stone (which also appears on the exterior) reminds Parisi of the cliffs at Torrey Pines State Park.
A space-saving, wrought-iron spiral stair with cherry treads — “a sculptural element as well as being functional,” Frontis says — leads from the great room to the roof deck. It provides a closer look at the wood tongue-in-groove, barrel-vaulted dormer that peaks at about 17 feet and rolls over the great room’s living-dining-kitchen areas like a giant wave.
“I feel elevated optimism” in this place, the owner says.
Parisi ordered custom wood and upholstered furniture scaled to the house, which feels roomier than its 1,860 square feet. The bedrooms, including an ocean-view guest suite on the second floor, are intentionally small, thereby freeing up more communal living space.
The emphasis is on sustainable and durable materials inside and out, for the good of the planet, the owner explains, and ease of maintenance. “My wife and I are not good at living in a place that’s constantly nagging for your attention,” he says. “We want the attention on having fun.”