San Diego Home/Garden Magazine (January 2014) – Home of the Year


La Jolla, CA


"West Hamptons"


Pat Launer


January 2014


Larny J. Mack

A Remodeled Ranch Home Evokes the Classic Style of New York’s Most Prestigious Enclave

Fondly recalling childhood summers in Kennebunkport, Maine, and working in New York City after obtaining a master’s degree in historic preservation, Jessica knew how to transform a typical 1950s California ranch home. For years, she’d been collecting ideas and clippings for the La Jolla home she owns with her husband, Rich. What she wanted was “a Hamptons-style home,” she says, “a very clean look with gray shingles, dark wood floors, lots of detailing and white trim.”

She found her perfect match in architect Ione R. Stiegler. Both had lived in Minnesota. Both were skilled in restoration. And both were highly attentive to detail.

“Instead of a colonial saltbox center hall, window over window, a Hamptons style allows the house to wander,” Ione explains.

The look was achieved by using cedar shingles finished with a semi-translucent paint so a hint of the cedar grain peeks through. The painted shingles subtly contrast with the white-painted wood detailing of the doors, windows, casing, columns and fascia.

The first-level ceilings were raised from 8 to 10 feet, which allowed for transoms above each of the doors and windows. Nearly every room features multiple-piece crown moldings, boxed beams and bead-board ceilings, custom casings, wainscoting and tall baseboards.

The wood-planked front porch and stone accents create an inviting approach to the home. Beyond the traditional red front door, the two-story entry hall opens to a formal walnut-treat/white-trim staircase leading to the new second floor, which captures stunning ocean views. The master suite, three bedrooms and a laundry room are on the upper level.

“Jessica and Rich explained very explicitly what their desires were, and it was a very close collaboration,” Ione says. She is most pleased about how well the design “functions and fits this family.”

With three young children, family needs were specific. They didn’t want a formal living room. “I didn’t think we’d ever use it and we haven’t missed it,” Jessica says. She preferred the family room to be the primary living area, with an open kitchen and sunlit breakfast room that opens onto the patio.

A dedicated space for the children includes room for toys and art supplies, as well as a study area for the oldest child, now 12. Pocket French doors permit the space to be closed off while allowing Jessica and Rich to keep an eye on the kids’ activities.

In each of the children’s rooms upstairs, a bookcase-flanked window seat doubles as a sleepover bed. Between two of the bedrooms is a much-loved “secret room,” accessed through hidden doors in the closets.

Another requirement was a usable yard. “My husband needed room to throw and catch a football,” Jessica says with a chuckle. The second-floor addition made it possible to relocate some of the first level’s square footage and open up one side of the property to create a large outdoor area. The pool is a simple rectangle. “I’m sort of a square kind of girl,” Jessica quips. “I like symmetry.”

A new two-story studio, separated from the house by the pool, contains a guest suite and a second-floor office that also offers ocean views. “The perfectly proportioned guesthouse recognizes the charm of smaller-scaled spaces,” Home of the Year judge Jennifer Bolyn notes.

The covered patio includes a stone fireplace with a television, boxed beams, infrared heaters and flooring finished with bluestone. A spiral staircase leads to a large upper deck, ideal for watching sunsets. A black-and-white-tiled mudroom with lockers and shoe storage connects the garage with the kitchen. Tucked around the side of the house, a three-car garage is partly used as a home gym.

In the kitchen, a 12-foot island topped with Calacatta marble includes a rollout marble baking table, incorporated into the plan because Jessica kneads bread and bakes regularly.

Ione acknowledges the importance of project manager Brandy Dewhurst and interior designer Janette Reategui-Seltser. “We all worked very closely and collaboratively,” she says. “The result is great because it’s so well integrated. The house is ideal for the owners’ or almost any family. It’s a very kid-friendly home.”

“The open flow works perfectly for our family,” Jessica says. “The house is big enough, but there’s no excess space.”

Judge Richard Gatling agrees. “Every inch of this house seems well thought out, with nothing out of place or offhanded. Though a fairly large house, the clever massing of shapes and the judicious use of fences and decks keep the house from being weighty or boxy.”

In addition to noting “careful attention to detailing,” judge Scot Frontis says, “the interior color palette livens the inside and helps define individual spaces.”

“One of my favorite things is the palette of blues, greens, gray and tan,” Jessica says. “They’re cooler colors, but they still have a warm feel. I think people are shocked when they see the apple-green island in the kitchen. But it’s a color that makes me happy.”