Planted In The End Zone


Score a view of the home of the Chargers head coach Norv Turner and his wife, Nancy.

FOR THEIR EIGHTH TIME since they wed in 1981 and embarked on a life in football, Norv and Nancy Turner have settled into a new house. This one is a Craftsman-style beach cottage bungalow. Perched above terraced gardens on a bluff behind the village of Del Mar, the Chargers head coach enjoys ocean views from his front porch, living room, kitchen, backyard, master bathroom and the kitchen sink. Seaglow illuminates soft white walls and beamed ceilings through generous windows and skylights. Snugged into 3,300 square feet, it’s one of their smallest abodes in the many cities marking Turner’s big-time coaching career: Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Dallas, Washington, Miami, the Bay Area, San Diego.

“The kids are all grown and gone so this is a great size for us,” Turner says, sitting on a sofa in his living room with Nancy and their two frisky dogs, Otis (dachshund) and Bailey (mixed breed). The aroma of roasted tomatoes and garlic wafted from the nearby kitchen. Their three children — Drew, who just graduated from the University of San Diego, Stephanie, an actress and writer, and Scott, an assistant coach with the Carolina Panthers — still visit often, and the two basement bedrooms, near the rear-projection home theater, belong to them (one for the girl/woman, the other for both boys/men). The Turners recently bought a three-bedroom condo in Mission Beach but this is home, where the Turners plan to retire and play with their grandkids someday.

But they also needed a place where social gatherings can range through the porches with tapered columns and rafter-tailed eaves, to the granite-topped kitchen island, around the dining room table and to the living room with the TV hidden behind a Venetian art screen above the hearth. Through French doors, backyard visitors gather under the arbor next to the Turbo gas grill, in front of the outdoor fireplace, or ping putts on the heart-shaped putting green Nancy surprised Norv with on his 60th birthday last May.

The house was conceived and built as “a little jewel box” by Howard Gad of Heritage West Development Co., with Brazilian cherry-wood floors throughout and cheery flower boxes beneath the kitchen windows. Architectural pioneer Richard Requa (1881-1941), who supervised building design for the 1935-36 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park, designed the original Craftsman house on the extra large lot. In 2005 Gad split the lot in half and built a house on each, being careful to carry forth original elements like the porches, peaked ceilings, and window and door trim. He paid particular attention to the scale of the rooms, so that the ratio between ceiling height and floor dimensions feels expansive in a compact space.

The Turners moved from their old house in Del Mar Heights in July, 2008, and with the assistance of interior architect/designer Tina Miklos, whom they’d met when Norv was coaching in Oakland and San Francisco, they added some closet space, built a pantry off the kitchen, installed a long window seat with drawers underneath a light well in the basement, along with additions to a den/guest room and the small workout room in the basement where Norv displays some of his football memorabilia.

Unless you happened upon this unassuming chamber, with an elliptical machine and treadmill where Coach does his early morning workouts, you’d never know a storied field general lived here. And even among the two Super Bowl mini-trophies from when he was offensive coordinator for the ’92 and ’93 champion Dallas Cowboys, the signed helmets and footballs, the pictures of Turner’s protégé quarterbacks including Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, shots of victory parades, magazine covers, groups of legendary coaches and players, it’s the framed newspaper stories from the Washington Post and Dallas Morning News extolling the Turners’ close-knit family life that are the largest momentoes.

“You don’t have to have it on display,” Norv says about the lack of mementos in other parts of the house. “We all know the reason we live in this house is we’ve been very fortunate in football and the career and all that. And the kids have been very involved in football one way or another. But there’s just a lot more to Nancy and the kids than that.” Turner calls the house “extremely liveable,” and one of the things that makes it so is added by its absence: a home office. 

Homes: By Neal Matthews Photography by Martin Mann

Categories: Home Design