Homeowners in fabulous locations can sometimes become victims of their own good fortune. Other people hear about the year-round sunshine, fresh air and stunning views, and their once-remote mecca suddenly backs onto a roaring main street. That’s exactly the position a North San Diego County couple found themselves in four years ago-a distressing development that sent them hunting for a new private haven in the area. They found it in a sex-acre parcel of rustic land, half of which was flat and buildable, while the rest spilled down into a picturesque ravine and stream.
The couple brought in their longtime design team--Palm Desert-based interior designer Susan Schreiber of Susan Schreiber Designs, and her architect husband, Joe De Coster of Joe De Coster and Associates, who have collaborated on homes for them and their family for 20 years--to expand the large Craftsman-style home on the site and tailor it to their needs. De Coster’s design vastly increased the size of the house, taking it from roughly 7,000 to 12,000 square feet. The redesign doubled the size of the master suite, carving out a private complex with a lounge overlooking the ravine and transforming a room that had been used as a library into a second bathroom. The six-bedroom, eight-bathroom home also incorporates several areas for entertaining and play, with a rambling living room and extensive deck, as well as areas designed for all manner of games---video, card and otherwise. De Coster also created more garage space to accommodate visits from the couple’s grown children. Schreiber’s task was to recast the horsey home, which had formerly been decorated with bridles, into an unobtrusive backdrop that would make the owners’ sophisticated art pop. The lady of the house, who spearheaded the project, selected a palette of sleek gray for the neural leather furniture from Roche Boboism A. Rudin and Ligne Roset; glass kitchen counters from Walker Zanger, and silvery wall finishes. Teal accents from the owners’ contemporary art glass collection provide an inviting contrast. “Gray is a cool color, but the art’s pretty hot.” Schreiber says. “The vibrancy of the blue makes it warm and interesting.” De Coster’s plan had retained the home’s original wood siding, but local officials insisted that the exterior be redesigned with less flammable materials and fire-retaining walls in light of recent string of blazes in the forested area. De Coster, faced with the prospect of long, and frequent commutes to meet with local officials to obtain the necessary permits, closer to home---Gregory Marx De Pena of San Diego’s Design Opera, Inc., and Nathan Lee Colkitt, then his partner---to finish the job. De Pena’s design called for replacing the wood siding with a fire-resistant elastomeric finish. He also reduced the Craftsman-style overhang, which had blocked the sky from the wraparound views. Inside, De Pena’s attempt at preserving the views even extended to his design of a living room fireplace topped by eight feet of glass. Crisp lines and planes, more in keeping with the minimal interiors, were added to exterior walls and gates. Remodels are never an easy road to hoe, but this was unusually time consuming given the difficult terrain and exacting owners. The project took four years, the longest ever tackled by Solana Beach based contractor Mark Bauer, of Bauer Construction, Inc. “It continually changed until the last day,” he says. “But we had the flexibility to get right on thing as they evolved.” Despite the challenges, Schreiber says she’s ready for the next collaboration. “They’re really interesting people to work with,” she says of the homeowners. “They appreciate good design, and they’re interested in things that are different and dynamic. They encourage creativity.

Written by Irene Lacher
Photography by Jim Bartsch