This Renovation Will Make You Rethink the Typical Look of a California Beach House

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By Kelly Dawson
A 1960s Southern California seaside property gets a luxe update that still fits in with its natural surroundings.

Set on a calm, blue backdrop of secluded canals in the Ventura Keys, where palm trees are reflected in the water above an enclave of impressive homes, sits one that's reimagined what it means to live in a Southern California beach community. 

The cool palette of the property—awash with its blue, white, black, and wood shades—is reminiscent of the colors that could be found near the shore, but there isn't a seashell or anchor in sight. If anything, the trinkets sprinkled around the house evoke the owners' travels to Africa more than their walks along the local sand. 

This Renovation Will Make You Rethink the Typical Look of a California Beach House - Photo 1 of 12 - Lanscape designer Jack Kiesel opted to use succulents in the front garden for their aesthetics and low water use, a plus in Southern California. "The sculptural quality of the succulents and color combinations pop against the smooth white stucco of the contemporary home," he says. 

Lanscape designer Jack Kiesel opted to use succulents in the front garden for their aesthetics and low water use, a plus in Southern California. "The sculptural quality of the succulents and color combinations pop against the smooth white stucco of the contemporary home," he says. 

"The neutral palette with dark accents felt interesting without being stuck in a certain time," designer Jesse DeSanti says. "We wanted a beach feel without shells, and the blue brings in some of that without being nautical." 

This Renovation Will Make You Rethink the Typical Look of a California Beach House - Photo 2 of 12 - Teak shelves were used in the entryway to display the owners' art collection and souvenirs from abroad. 

Teak shelves were used in the entryway to display the owners' art collection and souvenirs from abroad. 

This Renovation Will Make You Rethink the Typical Look of a California Beach House - Photo 3 of 12 - The industrial bar stools in the minimalist kitchen were purchased at ABC Home. 

The industrial bar stools in the minimalist kitchen were purchased at ABC Home. 

The owners, a couple who own a business and have a grown son, envisioned this creative escape as a blend of slick modern hardware and soft personal touches. But long before the home could reach this point, its original 1960s footprint had to be renovated. That's where architect Martha Piccioti's vision came into view. 

"The only thing we kept from the original house was the slab, so the garage stayed in the same place," Piccioti notes. "The kitchen and dining area remained in roughly their original location, and the staircase was relocated to become an architectural feature."  

This Renovation Will Make You Rethink the Typical Look of a California Beach House - Photo 4 of 12 - "The owners really wanted to make sure that the furniture was inviting and interesting, but still felt like it fit the space," DeSanti says. "Martha designed a great open space, but without the furniture the space could have felt very cold." France and Son supplied the chairs around the custom dining table, and the chandelier was spotted at Roost. 

"The owners really wanted to make sure that the furniture was inviting and interesting, but still felt like it fit the space," DeSanti says. "Martha designed a great open space, but without the furniture the space could have felt very cold." France and Son supplied the chairs around the custom dining table, and the chandelier was spotted at Roost. 

This Renovation Will Make You Rethink the Typical Look of a California Beach House - Photo 5 of 12 - A cream-colored Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams sectional designates the living area in this open concept, as does a Kochi Pattern rug from the Taj Collection at Area Rug Factory. 

A cream-colored Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams sectional designates the living area in this open concept, as does a Kochi Pattern rug from the Taj Collection at Area Rug Factory. 

This Renovation Will Make You Rethink the Typical Look of a California Beach House - Photo 6 of 12 - "We wanted a space to feel completely unique from the other rooms while still being a part of the overall palette," DeSanti says. Which room got the "jewelry box" feature they were envisioning? The powder room. It's outfitted with an organic Modernism mirror, Ladies and Gentlemen pendants, and penny rounds, of course.   

"We wanted a space to feel completely unique from the other rooms while still being a part of the overall palette," DeSanti says. Which room got the "jewelry box" feature they were envisioning? The powder room. It's outfitted with an organic Modernism mirror, Ladies and Gentlemen pendants, and penny rounds, of course.   

Piccioti remembers the midcentury structure had a strange asymmetrical roofline that didn't take advantage of the waterside views. She opted to keep the two-story concept of the home the same, but installed floor-to-ceiling windows in the living area, and expanded the catwalk to become part of the master bedroom. An abundance of glass was used for light alongside exposed beams and teak paneling was added for detail. 

 "The primary objective was to keep the two-story living room and optimize views of the channel," Piccioti says. "The house is very much about light and water."  

This Renovation Will Make You Rethink the Typical Look of a California Beach House - Photo 7 of 12 - The staircase was moved to be more prominently featured in the home's renovation. The owners' surrounding art collection makes it even more striking. 

The staircase was moved to be more prominently featured in the home's renovation. The owners' surrounding art collection makes it even more striking. 

This Renovation Will Make You Rethink the Typical Look of a California Beach House - Photo 8 of 12 - A Tim Gainey photograph of a Highland cow from Fine Art America sits above a red lumbar pillow by Amber Interiors and Restoration Hardware Bedding. 

A Tim Gainey photograph of a Highland cow from Fine Art America sits above a red lumbar pillow by Amber Interiors and Restoration Hardware Bedding. 

This Renovation Will Make You Rethink the Typical Look of a California Beach House - Photo 9 of 12 - In the den, the Kendall Charcoal paint shade by Benjamin Moore is matched by the equally dark shade of the West Elm sofa. Artist Laura Buchan supplied the wooden sculpture, and the floor pouf was sourced from Porch in nearby Carpinteria. 

In the den, the Kendall Charcoal paint shade by Benjamin Moore is matched by the equally dark shade of the West Elm sofa. Artist Laura Buchan supplied the wooden sculpture, and the floor pouf was sourced from Porch in nearby Carpinteria. 

Once the 18-month construction was completed on the three-bedroom address, it was up to DeSanti and the owners to style each room with a mix of air and shadow. This was a process that took years, and it was bolstered by a coinciding friendship. In fact, DeSanti mentions that the owners have known her long enough to see her get married, have her first child, and become pregnant with her second. 

"I was able to get to know the owners so well," DeSanti says. "We worked really hard to bring in the texture, neutral colors, and warmth to make the space inviting." 

This Renovation Will Make You Rethink the Typical Look of a California Beach House - Photo 10 of 12 - In the second bedroom, a macrame wall hanging and gold sconce were found at Etsy, which matches the sentiment of the DIY nightstand. Matteo bedding pops against the Midsummer Night wall color by Benjamin Moore. 

In the second bedroom, a macrame wall hanging and gold sconce were found at Etsy, which matches the sentiment of the DIY nightstand. Matteo bedding pops against the Midsummer Night wall color by Benjamin Moore. 

This Renovation Will Make You Rethink the Typical Look of a California Beach House - Photo 11 of 12 - The master bedroom unites the rest of the home's shades and textures in a calm palette. The custom bed is centered above a Crate and Barrel area rug. As with most of the art in the home, the one hanging above on the right is from the owners' personal collection. 

The master bedroom unites the rest of the home's shades and textures in a calm palette. The custom bed is centered above a Crate and Barrel area rug. As with most of the art in the home, the one hanging above on the right is from the owners' personal collection. 

This Renovation Will Make You Rethink the Typical Look of a California Beach House - Photo 12 of 12 - "The home is special because it feels curated, but very personal," DeSanti says. "The owners had a hand in every part of the process." The colors in the outdoor space match those found inside, including the red lumbar pillow from Amber Interiors that's also in a bedroom. 

"The home is special because it feels curated, but very personal," DeSanti says. "The owners had a hand in every part of the process." The colors in the outdoor space match those found inside, including the red lumbar pillow from Amber Interiors that's also in a bedroom. 

In the end, the home’s many modern touches—the high ceilings, glass walls, and exposed steel, etc.—don’t come off like wearing a turtleneck on a beach day. Instead, their elevated features allow the ocean-like palette to feel like a warm breeze, which is always welcome in a setting as picturesque as this.  

Project Credits:

Architect: Martha Picciotti 

Builder: Mike Conner

Structural Engineer: Eric McCullum

Landscape Design: Kiesel Design

Lighting Design: Dave Bauman 

Interior Design: Jette Creative 

Cabinetry Design: California Design Center

Photography: Nicole Franzen 

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