Ten years ago, when interior designer Beth Martin’s longtime clients—a young couple with a new baby—relocated to California from New York City, they landed full-time on the peninsula just south of San Francisco. But after several years and a second child, it was time to find a weekend home where the surroundings matched the growing family’s energetic spirit.
“They’re very active—biking, hiking, surfing, tennis, and golf—there’s not an outdoor activity they don’t do,” says Martin, owner of the San Francisco-based Martin Group. “Living full-time on the Peninsula, they wanted a place to steal away on the weekends—and at just over two hours away, Carmel was in perfect striking distance.”
In early 2018, the couple bought a 1930s, post-and-beam home perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean—majestically set above a secluded cove that serves as an otter sanctuary—and moved right in. The family wanted to begin enjoying the space, so Martin filled it with temporary furnishings for about eight months before getting started on the redesign. “They wanted it to be casual and unfussy,” explained the designer of the beach house...that’s not actually a beach house. “If you’re not familiar with this part of the California coastline, you would automatically assume Carmel-by-the-Sea was a nautical-themed beach town, but there’s nothing beachy about it unless you’re standing in the sand. Here you’re surrounded by a forest of pine and oak trees—that’s the magical aspect of the area and, specifically, this house.”
As one of the first homes built on this part of the coastline over 80 years ago, there was nothing around except raw views of the water. And while there’s a lot more surrounding it today, the property still offers an abundance of privacy and sweeping unobstructed views of the ocean and shoreline below. “The economy of the house is really beautiful,” says Martin. “It’s only three bedrooms and would be considered modest by some people’s standards, but what’s nice about it—especially if it’s just the family—is that they have an expansive open floorplan for hanging out when they’re not out in nature.”
Keeping the lowkey nature of the area in mind, as well as the unparalleled views, Martin and the homeowners agreed it shouldn’t feel overly designed or decorated. “We wanted it to feel very organic and ‘of the place’,” explains Martin. “I really wanted everything we did inside to fall away so that the architecture and the forms of the furniture were the only thing to really stand out.”
Right from the entry, the home's interior reflects its rustic surroundings. "We refinished the oak door so that it worked tonally with the overall palette, including the aged Corten steel surrounding the doorway and original redwood beams," explains Martin. "It was important that we continued to speak the language of the house, so we just toned it all down to allow the original materiality to come forward.”
Entryway Sitting Area
“Even though it’s not a beach house, it is set on the ocean, and you absolutely have to keep the sun and saltwater in mind—so all the fabrics, other than bedding, are Perennials, Link, or Sunbrella," says the designer of her performance fabric choices. "The landscape for outdoor fabrics has changed dramatically—you can get everything from plush velvets to beautiful wovens. The Benjamin Wing Club Chairs are Studio Van Den Akker, through De Sousa Hughes, and are covered in a Perennials’ platinum-colored ‘Silky’ pattern. The walnut coffee table is custom, as is the jute and cotton carpet from Mark Nelson Deigns. The small oil painting by Alex Kanevsky is from Dolby Chadwick Gallery."
The dining area, with a backdrop of floor-to-ceiling windows, blends with its surroundings. "Set between the living room and the kitchen island, we had this oak dinging table custom-made through Nickey Kehoe in Los Angeles—it easily fits 10 people," Martin says. "The walnut dining chairs from Stahl + Band were upholstered in a rich Holly Hunt leather. The slate flooring throughout the home, from DaVinci Marble, pairs perfectly with all the redwood."
“We tried to keep as much as we could, including the existing limestone countertops and wood cabinetry," says Martin. She covered the cabinets in Benjamin Moore's Deep River 1582 and swapped the hardware "to give the room a fresh look."
T he custom-made kitchen island is a solid (66” x 96” x 2”) slab of absolute black granite from DaVinci. " It took 14 men to place it," Martin says. Meanwhile, "the M Barstools from Stahl + Band make the counter a great place to sit with the kids for lunch.”
“There’s a lot of wood happening here, but we like the coziness," the designer says. "I wanted to have something reflective to dance from the ceiling and chose this mobile-like Gaia Pendant from Ochre." The Yabu Pushelberg-designed steel Puddle tables are by Henge, from Mass in Beverly Hills, and the Christopher Club Chairs by Studio Van Den Akker, upholstered in Link’s mocha-colored ‘Montauk’ fabric, are also from De Sousa Hughes.
"Not wanting to lose the old redwood backdrop, we custom-designed the adjustable built-in shelving units, on each side of the fireplace, using aged redwood," the designer explains. The set of Christiane Perrochon bowls on the coffee table are from March, and the Terry St. John painting and David Kuroaka pottery are from Dolby Chadwick Gallery.
“Here we added some warmth to the space by painting the headboard the same Benjamin Moore color we used in the kitchen—this way we keep the same language throughout the home," explains Martin. The designer custom made the bed, then covered it in RH bedding and a blanket by John Pawson for a warm, modern feel. The bedside lamps are from Coup D’Etat in San Francisco, the nightstands are Richard Wrightman, and the artwork is a combination of pieces from Dolby Chadwick Gallery and vintage finds.
"One of my favorite pieces in the entire house is this 1st Dibs find—a 1960s black-brown leather chair and matching ottoman," Martin says. "For me, items with wear bring down the temperature in any space so that it feels more like home and becomes more accessible."
“I wanted to bring the homeowners’ Hudson Valley vibe into the space, so we painted the original adobe white to lighten it up a bit," says Martin. "I found both the 1960s dresser and matte-glazed ceramic lamp on 1stdibs. The painted steel bedframes, with custom bedding and black linen bed-skirts, were an inexpensive find, and the folding stools at the ends of each are by Christian Liaige. In front of the desk is an iconic 1960s Bird Chair by Preben Fabricius and hanging above is another Alex Kanevsky oil painting."
“These fabulous lamps are actually modern Serge Mouille and were originally hardwired," Martin says. "We had to add cords and switches—which was a bit of a challenge—because we didn’t want to compromise the original adobe by drilling holes into it. Again, we painted the adobe white to break up the natural elements. The sectional sofa is from Flexform—we love their things—and the fabric is another Perennials. The Febo chair from B&B Italia is just so comfortable and great looking, and the credenza is a 1960s Florence Knoll. The carpet is a wool flatweave we found through Patterson Floor Coverings."
“The guesthouse was built later than the main property, so the interior structure is a bit more contemporary with lighter wood tones," says Martin. "We tied the two together by bringing in the same Benjamin Moore paint color and a lot of rustic pieces, including an old worktable found on 1stdibs and an array of ceramics." The sectional sofa is from Flexform and the James Kennedy painting, an acrylic on masonite, is from Dolby Chadwick Gallery.
Follow House Beautiful on Instagram.
You Might Also Like