When the homeowner first toured this newly remodeled home in Carlsbad, her connection to its modern Mediterranean resort style was both familiar and foreign.
The homeowner told real estate agent Shirley Slee (who owned, remodeled and helped design the 2,300-square-foot, single-story house) that she felt as though she was home because it reminded her of Ibiza, Spain, where she had lived for more than 10 years.
“The light, bright, airy space is very reminiscent of Ibiza,” said the homeowner, who wishes to remain anonymous. “It is perfectly oriented to the climate and the ocean — as are Ibicenco fincas (as Ibiza estates are called in Spanish). It is shaded from the midday sun, and very peaceful and comfortable inside, and feels private. There are spaces for relaxing inside and out for every time of day.
“We call the house ‘Tanit’ after an ancient Mediterranean sky goddess of motherhood and fertility,” she added. “There is a powerful female energy here.”
That powerful female energy may come in part from Slee, who bought the 1949 home in September and designed the gut remodel with architect Andrew Carlos. Over six months, they and contractor Derrick White of Coastline Construction added just under 500 square feet to the original 1,800-square-foot, boxed-in house to create an open plan home with a resort feel.
Much of Slee’s design inspiration came from Tulum, Mexico, where she’d vacationed with her family.
“I really wanted this home to replicate a Mediterranean resort, a mini villa, where everything you need is there,” she said.
“So, I went in with an intention of having just really natural, simple living,” Slee said of her vision for the property. “I didn’t want any casements on the doors or baseboards; I wanted all the bathrooms to be concrete finish, like they were in Mexico.”
That vision continued outside the home as well. “Even the pergolas. I mimicked those off of all the pergolas that I looked at in Tulum,” she said.
It’s quite a transformation from the original house. “It was just kind of your classic 1949 cracker box house,” Carlos said of the original three-bedroom, two-bathroom home. “There had been a couple of additions. There was kind of a classic rumpus room.”
“I didn’t know at first that we would have to take it down to the studs,” said Slee. “But when they opened it up, there were three layers of everything on the home. There were three different sidings on the outside, three layers of flooring on the inside.”
Stripping away the layers allowed Slee and Carlos to maximize the ocean views. “It wasn’t until we took it down to the studs that I figured out the window placements,” Slee said. “I was blown away by how many ocean views I could achieve through the window placements.”
Carlos and Slee defined the entrance to the home by adding block walls with a gate flanked by two 65-year-old olive trees. They created a front porch sitting area under the trellis off the new kitchen and dining area.
Carlos kept the two bedrooms along the north side of the house in the same place, along with the nearby bathroom. To create the large great room, he eliminated the third bedroom and added almost 500 square feet in the southwest corner, where the kitchen and dining area now are.
In what had been the old kitchen, he carved out space for a new powder room, laundry room, master bathroom and closet. The old rumpus room is now the master bedroom, which opens by bi-fold doors to the backyard pool (replastered, replumbed and retiled), the new fire pit and the fun wooden swings that hang off the trellis.
“What we were really after was creating more of an entertainer’s home, while still keeping it efficient — not overwhelming or overbuilding it, because we really wanted to preserve a connection to the outdoor spaces,” Carlos said.
For the addition, they first considered mimicking the roof line of the original house but opted to make it flat, which allowed for a 10-foot ceiling in the kitchen and dining area.
“It doesn’t hide that it’s an addition, but it feels like it’s the next evolution of the house, and I think it has definitely become kind of a statement piece,” Carlos said.
Slee wanted to make the kitchen the focal point of the home, designing custom cabinets with a lot of storage and selecting high-end appliances and a deep, black fireclay sink.
“I believe in using three or four materials max on a project,” Slee said. She used limestone veneer on the exterior of the addition, the living room and master bedroom fireplaces, the columns by the entry gate, the backyard firepit and the outdoor shower. All window trims and the bi-fold exterior doors are black.
Inside, all the fixtures are matte black, as are all the floating vessel sinks in the two bathrooms and the powder room. Most of the flooring is European oak, and all counters and backsplashes are Carrara marble.
She selected alder for the bathroom and kitchen cabinets (with the exception of the birch used at the base of the kitchen cabinets). Most striking are the hand-carved alder fronts on the large island and the tall spice racks that flank the stovetop and hood. The same artisan in Tijuana also carved the intricate fireplace mantel in the living room from Brazilian hardwood.
Carlos likens the home to a Swiss Army knife, with lots of functions and some surprises: “Just like there are those different tools that you keep folding up, in this house you just keep finding little places to live that provide unique functionality.”
Outside, he said, there’s the pool, the terraces, the firepit, the outdoor shower and even a small yard with planter boxes tucked on the south side of the house. Inside, there’s the entertaining space that opens to the front and back yards, the master suite, the guest bedrooms, and even a small office that he carved out of one of the original guest bedrooms.
The homeowner, who bought the home in May, has her own plans for these spaces once she’s completely settled in. “Once all boxes are unpacked, I’ll be painting watercolors again in the serene space.”
Sophy Chaffee is a freelance writer based in Encinitas and can be reached at CoastalSophy@gmail.com.