Stillness Speaks


Quiet drama resonates after a renovation

TRAVEL THROUGH JEFF AND JOAN’S canyon-tucked La Jolla residence and you are gradually transported away from the bustling city into the tranquility of nature. The journey begins at the front curb, where ahead of you is a peaceful path flanked by Asian-style lanterns lighting your way toward a pagoda gate.

“To integrate the walk and driveway to the new Zen-like feel,” designer Jim Walters says, “we created a steppingstone, plank-style driveway in acid-washed concrete accented with tiled in pebbles on the drive-way and loose pebbles on the walkway up to the pagoda.”

A long, concrete sidewalk was bordered by a featureless span of lawn leading to the front door. Now the custom, thatched-resin gate provides interest. Flanked by large-scale slate tile columns in a welcoming butterscotch hue, the gate opens to an alluring courtyard. A small bridge over a koi pond beckons you to a circular path toward the front door entry that mimics the pagoda entrance.

“When we saw the house for the first time and opened the front door, my first thought was, ‘How come the whole back of the house isn’t glass?’” Jeff says. “The most notable structural flaw of the house, besides its tired and dated materials, was its failure to take advantage of the beautiful canyon views.”

Open the front door now and expansive windows to the tree-lined canyon give the illusion that you are in the middle of the woods. 

The forest fantasy continues from the great room straight ahead to the new deck, on the right to the bar and on through to the kitchen and a breakfast nook where, when the homeowners eat at the Twig table that Jim designed, Jeff says, “We have the feeling of being in a tree house.”

The breakfast nook’s tropical motif stems from leaf- and animal-print pillows, while its overall color scheme combines kiwi green and the cayenne hue flowing through the ebony-stained sapele cabinetry. The cabinetry extends into the kitchen, Joan’s favorite space.

“We clad the kitchen in horizontal sapele veneer,” Jim says. “We took the sapele and stained it darker for the island. We contrasted that with cosmic black granite around the perimeter and stacked polished black pebbles on the island edge, below the kick. We also used polished pebbles, laid flat, for the backsplash. The pebbles reference the Volcano Caesarstone in the living room.”

Between the living room and kitchen is the bar area with a Macassar ebony composite countertop. The bar’s drop ceiling, also of ebony, echoes the drop ceilings in the entry-way and dining room. The dining room ceiling reflects the rectangular shape of Jim’s Waterfall sapele-and-ebony dining table that seats 10. A display cabinet/buffet, also designed by Jim, separates the end of the dining room from an office, laundry room and the kids’ bedrooms. Adding interest in the dining room are wall openings that peek through to a dramatic stairwell with a zigzag-step detail and open-cable railing.

Down the stairs is Jeff’s favorite area: the family room. 

“There’s a custom, oversized sectional, a 6-foot Sparks linear fireplace and a 70-inch TV,” he says. “What better place for family movie night or watching a sporting event?”

Up the stairs are the master bedroom and bath. 

“The original master bath was dark and uninviting, so I took the dark part and made it feel like a grotto with chiseled stone,” Jim says. “I made the windows larger and put in a circular skylight, which reflects the shape of the round tub.” When you’re in the tub, you see the leafy trees through the windows, a floating bamboo ceiling above you where the skylight is, a wall of cave-like stone with niches for LED candles that give off flickering light, and you hear a waterfall from the glass-backed, custom waterfall faucet. It doesn’t take much imagination to pretend you are taking a bath in a rainforest.

Off the bedroom is a deck with just enough room for a comfy chair where one can look down at the deck off the living room and out toward the pool off the family room and the cabana across from the pool.

Built into the hillside, the cabana is a year-round lounging area kept warm in colder months by heaters and a fireplace with a pebbled-granite motif. The ceiling also lends warmth with its polished, cross-grain birch panels and ebony accents. The ceiling’s light fixtures give the space an Asian feel and echo the light fixtures at the home’s front path. Also reminiscent of the pagoda entry and the front door are the cabana’s columns in the same butterscotch slate.

The repetition of natural materials is a reminder that the home’s design throughout is organic. Moreover, the design melds casual with polished, modern with Zen and drama with stillness for a residence that takes illusive possibilities and turns them into tangible realities. 

Homes: By Eva Ditler Photography by Brady Architectural Photography

Categories: Home Design