Prioritising connectivity between architecture and landscape, this mid-century Carmel Valley house is transformed into a Californian dream home.
California-headquartered architecture and interior design Studio Schicketanz completed a full-scale remodel of this single-storey, 2,700-square-feet, mid-century home in California’s picturesque Carmel Valley. The property’s old design had barely acknowledged the property’s magnificent setting. A low-slung roof and low doors and windows had cut off the mountain ridges and sky views. A double-wide garage door had dominated the frontage, and the property’s small wood deck had been divided into a couple of sections with no good connection to the beautiful riverbed and the surrounding majestic plantain trees.
The clients – a couple with a teenage son who are good friends of Studio Schicketanz’s founder and president, Mary Ann Schicketanz – wanted to better connect their home to its beautiful natural landscape along the banks for the Carmel River.
The couple are very active and involved in the community. The wife works for a wildlife NGO and the husband for a land trust, so it was important that the renovation was aligned with the site’s natural environment. They love to cook and entertain, so they wanted a more open home with increased natural light flow and better interior circulation. They also wanted to create an attractive outdoor entertainment space that would connect with the kitchen and great room – the house’s main living area – and to improve the property’s access to the river. Their brief also called for a third bedroom, a larger kitchen, and expansive, open-plan layout.
The house’s envelope also needed to be improved for energy efficiency and its low ceilings needed to be raised to take full advantage of the site’s gorgeous views. Responding to her clients’ brief, Schicketanz and her team prioritised opening up the interiors to improve circulation and creating a new layout that would embrace the outdoors.
“The primary objective for this project was to create a more open spaces that are in tune with the natural environment. The house has a wonderful view of the Carmel River, the ridgeline of the Santa Lucia mountains, and a signature plantain tree on the south side of the property. This inspired me to try to open the house up to enjoy these stunning views and bring elements of the outdoors inside,” says Schicketanz.
The house’s former layout was dark, closed off to the incredible southern vistas, and did not allow for a smooth transition between spaces. The old low-slung roof and low doors and windows impeded the interior perspectives of the surrounding mountains and sky. Schicketanz and her team addressed these problems by demolishing the roof over the great room and lifting the ceilings to a height that allowed the space to embrace vistas of the full mountain range. They installed large, glazed, sliding doors to connect the great room to the kitchen and the deck beyond. The new doors, windows and insulation improved the building’s envelope and its passive heating and cooling capabilities. The existing garage was incorporated into the house’s footprint to accommodate a larger kitchen and additional bedroom, and the roof was partially “lifted” to improve the views and light penetration in the great room.
The new social area includes the great room and the kitchen, which flows to the outdoor deck and entertainment zone, and a lower garden next to the river. The private area includes a master suite, the teenage son’s bedroom, and an office that doubles up as a guest suite.
Schicketanz wanted the colour and material scheme to have a strong reference the California landscape, so she and her clients decided on Eucalyptus and native Oak finishings, and a white and dark grey palette so the interiors would harmonise with the landscape. IKEA kitchen and bathroom cabinetry were chosen so the team could stay within their clients’ budget.
“The clients also took charge of several design aspects and had specific visions for the home. They played a big role in selecting the materials used in the design, with the team recommending Eucalyptus flooring for its sustainability and affordability. Both husband and wife are world travelers who wanted to display all the artifacts and photographs they had collected over many years of travelling. It was our job to create the best background to show off their collection,” says Schicketanz.
The biggest challenge Schicketanz and her team faced with this project was the budget, which was more modest compared to other projects that the team had worked on in the past. Another challenge was fitting a third bathroom into a tight space. “Despite these challenges, the family loves their new home, especially the transformed living and dining area. Once dark and closed off, these spaces are now filled with light. The home’s new, open concept truly brings the clients’ vision for a nature-connected home to life,” says Schicketanz.s
Photos by Joe Fletcher