Interior designers Teresa Xu and Kevin Lee Yi partnered to customize a newly constructed single-family home in Normal Heights, San Diego. The client is a dental business owner, and this residence is his vacation home – a place to spend the summer and to host friends and family reunions.
Situated on a hill overlooking a valley of eucalyptus trees, the simple Scandinavian style house stands out among the Spanish-inspired homes characteristic to Southern California. The architectural design effectively blends indoor and outdoor spaces with folding glass doors, large windows, and glass walls on each floor to allow for plenty of sunlight.
White oak flooring was used in all the public areas and bedrooms for a natural and cozy feeling. Plain white walls create a gallery look, with empty walls to display artwork collected during the homeowner’s travels. In addition, the décor of each bedroom features cultural elements related to his personal living experiences. For instance, one guest room contains a Japanese tatami bed with a meditation spot, calling back to the seven years he spent abroad in Japan. Custom lighting fixtures and contemporary artwork were selected to complement the woodworking, finishes and materials throughout the house.
The house was built on a hillside, with a driveway in front and a quiet valley in the backyard. Its appearance is simple: the upper facade is cladded with wood planks, and the lower facade is painted with white stucco.
The entrance features a custom steel black door, integrated with a smart home system that can be unlocked with a smartphone.
The entrance shows off the hillside. To the left is a guest room, followed by the staircase connecting the three floors. The living room, balcony, and kitchen are straight ahead.
Blue velvet armchair with black stained oak side table in the guest room. Feather print on handmade Nepalese paper by an artist in Brooklyn, New York.
Contrasting black and white orb pendants on both sides of the bed provide warm light for bedtime reading or for writing in the guest journal.
Closeup of the bedside guest journal.
The first-floor guest room mimics a midcentury modern hotel room. As the only room not used by the homeowner, it evokes a different mood and looks compared to the rest of the house.
The walls use white subway tiles with black accent trim molding, and the floor features decorative artisan glazed tiles with raised surface patterns.
Black powder-coated faucets contrast the white sink and tiles.
The living room displays prints by artist Richard Vergez.
A concrete paneled wall includes a TV and electronic fireplace. L-shaped track lights mirror one another, with one above the living room coffee table and another over the kitchen island.
The waterfall countertop is paired with black stained oak counter stools from Afteroom.
The minimal and functional kitchen features a built-in island that seats 5-6, but more often it serves as a prep-working surface for catered parties.
Behind the kitchen is a pantry room divided by a full ceiling-height glass wall, glazed with frosted glass and bound by a steel frame.
The steel glass door creates a unique backdrop for the kitchen.
The stairway showcases a guardrail with long, custom-made stair rods, which start from the basement and reach the second-floor ceiling.
Print by artist Richard Vergez.
A dental surgery statue was a gift from a patient.
The built-in platform bed transitions seamlessly from the headboard to the same white oak flooring. One large picture window provides plenty of natural light and a view of the valley.
- Teresa Xu
- Kevin Lee Yi
- Dichen Ding (Architectural Consultant)
- Simon Taveras (Architectural Consultant)
- Jason Wang