Feldman Architecture on Designing the Perfect Surfer Home

It takes many hands to create the perfect home. This 4,490-square-foot house was no exception, requiring the energy and talent of Feldman Architecture, Commune Design (for the interiors), Tucci Lighting, Ground Studio (for the landscaping), and Allison Harding (for the art selection).

Bohemian and Refined at the Same Time, This House by Feldman Architecture Was Built—Inside and Out—From a Native Northern California Tree

The lucky owners are a Silicon Valley couple with two daughters. One-half of the couple was raised in Santa Cruz where he learned to surf and couldn’t imagine a better place for a peaceful family getaway. Located on a bluff, in one of the state’s best surf breaks, the house was designed to respect both the coast and the community. 

“Our clients approached us to design a family home in an unassuming neighborhood — aware of the feel and scale of the surrounding structures,” says Jonathan Feldman, founding partner and CEO of Feldman Architecture.

“They were well-versed on the nuances of the site and dreamt of a home that fit naturally and sustainably into its beachy, eclectic locale.”

Outside and inside, a single material prevails—wood—and one type in particular.

“Monterey cypress, a robust, resilient, regal wood, is accustomed to the site’s coastal California climate and when left unfinished, weathers to a sophisticated grey—the wood also therefore quickly becoming a focal point of the home’s design,” describes Chris Kurrle, partner at Feldman Architecture.

“The exterior is clad with board and batten slats, setting up an exterior and interior palette present throughout the home. Waste in the milling process and trunk use was minimized by holistically integrating every level of wood grade and their respective quantities into the design.”

To achieve the perfect result, the Feldman Architecture team enlisted the help of sawyer Evan Shively of Arborica, an expert in reclaiming and repurposing native California timber. 

“The home is sited as a windbreak: The rear yard and deck capitalize on ocean views, while the entry and front courtyard, tucked behind two separate structures (a customized surfboard storage unit and garage), sit where the sun shines most in the winter, acting as a warm, light-filled cloister all-year-round, protected from the coastal winds,” says Chris Kurrle, who always strive for design solutions that aspire to stand the test of time. 

Occupying the ground floor, the public areas highlight the connection between inside and out with floor-to-ceiling windows allowing for an abundance of natural light while providing exceptional ocean views. The upper floor consists of private spaces including the master bedroom, which has a charming private balcony, and the children’s bedroom. 

For Commune Design—led by Roman Alonso and Steven Johanknecht—the interiors were inspired by a “professor who surfs,” an idea based on the owner himself.

“The goal was to achieve spaces that feel free-spirited but intellectual, casual and highly practical yet fully considered,” the duo says.

In addition to the Monterey cypress, the interior designers also introduced soapstone, plaster, concrete, copper, and brass for their propensity to patina with time. They commissioned pieces by artists, artisans, and designers such as Stan Bitters, Tripp Carpenter, Tanya Aguiniga, Doug McCollough, Alma Allen, BDDW, Sam Malouf, and Nakashima Workshop, combining their works with vintage furniture by Gerrit Rietveld, lighting fixtures by Paavo Tynell and Ignazio Gardella, textiles by Josef Frank as well as many books.

Reflecting an authentic feeling, the home is an invitation to listen to music, cook, and enjoy the connection with nature while living among artworks inspired by the surf and skate culture of the West Coast from the ’60s and ’70s. 

Perfectly balanced, both the architecture and the interiors are an ode to the surrounding context and a reflection of the personality and lifestyle of the inhabitants. Here, the people and the environment coexist in harmony through the language of architecture. Clearly honoring this principle, the aptly named Surf House is a true jewel, yet unpretentious. 

“The value of a defined process is ultimately to ensure that conceptual ideas result in client-driven, human-centered spaces that are appropriate to their context,” confesses Chris Kurrle. This house is here to prove it. 

Feldman Architecture | feldmanarchitecture.com

Images by Joe Fletcher

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