This California coastal paradise, named the Surf House, was two and a half years in the making

Nestled in Santa Cruz on the central California coast, and with a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean, this vacation home—named the Surf House—“balances high design with a sophisticated bohemian aesthetic”, according to its architect. 

“The clients approached our team to design a family home in an unassuming neighborhood,” says Jonathan Feldman, founding partner and CEO of the San Francisco-based firm Feldman Architecture, who built the Surf House from the ground up—a process that took a little under three years. “They were well versed on the nuances of the site and dreamt of a home that fit naturally and sustainably into its beachy, eclectic locale.”

In case you missed it: A Peek Into Henry Golding and Liv Lo’s Recent Home Renovation in Los Angeles

The 4,490 sq ft, four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bathroom house, which is located on a property that spans 9,671 sq ft, was constructed with its surroundings in mind—particularly to “appreciate the site’s breathtaking ocean views”, says Feldman. 

“From the street, when the front gate is opened, visitors catch a glimpse of the deep blue water all the way through the home, giving a hint of what’s to come—and framing an ocean view at every natural progression of the design.” 

Don’t miss: Home Tour: How Mei Mei Song Made Her New Hong Kong Home a Sanctuary

Because the property sits by the ocean, site-specific solutions were required. Considerations had to be made on the land erosion patterns—and how close the home can be to the edge of the sea—in accordance with guidelines issued by the California Coastal Commission. The coastal location—and the wind and salt water it is exposed to—means the team selected materials that would weather and age gracefully in marine environments, and also protect the residents of the home from the elements.

The area was also a factor: “Santa Cruz is a very quirky place, with many varying architectural styles and personalities in every neighbourhood,” says Feldman. Board and batten construction is typical of the area, he adds, and the design of the house gives the style a modern twist.

The house is built using Monterey cypress, a wood local to Santa Cruz that is known for its robust, resilient nature. When used in exterior applications, Monterey cypress can be installed unfinished, explains Feldman—and weathers to a “wonderful silver-slash-grey” as the material ages. Its use also pays homage to the resilience and beauty of the tree, he adds. It is his favourite feature in the home—particularly “how the different quantities and grades were detailed, finished and located throughout”. 

Other materials selected for the same purpose include exterior light fixtures, copper flashings and unlacquered brass fixtures. Meanwhile, drought-tolerant native landscaping was planted throughout the outdoor spaces. “Nothing in the home is considered too precious that it needs significant upkeep or maintenance,” says Feldman. 

Working with the client, as well as Los Angeles-based interior design firm Commune Design, Feldman and his team masterminded an aesthetic dubbed “professor who surfs”. With this theme in mind, they aimed to create spaces that feel “free-spirited but intellectual, casual and highly practical.” 

There’s a feeling of an “indoor-outdoor connection” upon entering the home. 

It transitions from an intimate front courtyard—which has an inviting outdoor lounge area and is adjoined to a space dubbed the “board room”, home to surfing equipment—to a warm, open living room and kitchen. 

On the other side, large, sweeping doors connect the interiors to a spacious back deck, which has a hot tub and outdoor kitchen, and a firepit positioned right by the ocean. This large outdoor space was created with intimate gatherings, sunbathing and table tennis in mind. 

“At the exterior, the patterns of the walls exploit the wonderful coastal light and provide a visually relaxing rhythm that flows to the interior. Once inside, the warm, casual feel that the materials provide sets the tone for the experience,” Feldman says.

Upstairs, the home transitions from public to private, says Feldman. Plaster is used in the construction of this part of the house, which diversifies the palette and draws attention to architectural details. Thoughtfully placed windows weave surprising glimpses of blues and greens into the earth-toned interior finishes.

The master bedroom has floor-to-ceiling glass walls, which lead to a private balcony. Above the bed hangs a textile piece by Kira Dominguez Hultgren, which incorporates fragments of the wife’s dress she wore when she first met her husband—and the shirt he wore at their wedding.

Nothing in the home is considered too precious that it needs significant upkeep or maintenance
Jonathan Feldman

Art in the home is curated by Allison Harding. The selection places an emphasis on “California artists and vibes”, with a particular focus on female talents as well as work influenced by 1960s and 1970s West Coast skate and surf culture. 

The most memorable part of the project, says Feldman, was the handover to the owners, who are now considering making the Surf House their primary home.

“That day is always the culmination of a long collaborative process, and it’s wonderful to finally watch the family finally take ownership of their home and give it life.”

Tatler Asia
© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.