Coastal Contemporary

Santa Cruz, CA

Our clients asked us for an fresh and exciting take on a weekend home near the beach in Santa Cruz California. They also wanted practical: low maintenance materials for a salt environment and kid-friendly finishes. Lastly, the house had to have ocean views from the living floor and a visual connection from the ground floor entry to the upper floor living spaces. We found artistic inspiration in the shapes of breaking waves and sea creatures and designed our forms based on that.
The house has three bedrooms and two baths (one a master suite) on the ground floor and another master suite on the upper floor. In this reverse floor-plan scheme, we also placed the living spaces, kitchen, dining, and living, on the upper floor, giving dramatic views of the ocean and the Santa Cruz coastal range. We created a visual link to the lower floor entry with a nautilus-inspired stairway. A cantilevered concrete deck reaches out front for the views while respecting the neighbors’ views.
We used in-floor hydronic heating in the stained concrete floors throughout the house. The concrete minimizes sound transfer between the levels while providing an attractive and low maintenance flooring. We added a heating zone to cover the front deck to allow comfortable outdoor dining on chilly Santa Cruz summer evenings.
Custom stainless steel and Brazilian Ipe railings provide safety while leaving an open view for interior decks and the interior stair. The vaulted ceiling of the living room is sheathed in bamboo. Take note of the marine inspired designs in the concrete flooring¬† and the mosaic tiled “wave-niche” alongside the stairway. We also used spaced Ipe for the garage door sheathing and for the soffits of roof and cantilevered decks. The Ipe at the soffits is backed with heavy black insect screen to keep bugs out of the attic while allowing venting of the roof cavity.


Interior Designer:
Alison Whittaker Design Inc.
20465 Saratoga Los Gatos Road
Saratoga, CA

Matt Strickland

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