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Ranch & Coast MagazineRANCH & COAST MAGAZINE
August 2008

High-Rise Vacation Haven

By Miriam Raftery

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Knocking down walls and extending living areas into space formerly occupied by a balcony opened up the condo’s cramped kitchen and created a spacious great room complete with floor-to-ceiling oceanview windows.


"With a passion for the delicious moments family gatherings bring, our client relishes her role as family matriarch," says Lisa Wilson-Wirth, president of Arclinea [San Diego], a San Diego design firm.

Arclinea [San Diego]’s Wilson-Wirth and Jeremy Gleiberman teamed up with Mexican architect Matthew Schmidt of Arqlabs and contractor Eduardo Donate to transform an oceanview Coronado high-rise condo into a vacation haven that now comfortably accommodates the homeowner’s three-generational family.

"This is a vacation home for all of us," says the homeowner, a resident of Mexico who now savors family time in Coronado with her two sons, their wives, and young children.

Knocking down walls and extending living areas into space formerly occupied by a balcony opened up the condo’s cramped kitchen and created a spacious great room complete with floor-to-ceiling oceanview windows. The design team also converted a dated ’60s area into an ultra-contemporary-style, 1,845-square-foot living space packed with innovative storage solutions.

"The challenge was that the client wanted a space for her grandchildren, but she really wanted clean lines," says Schmidt, who praised the assets of Arclinea’s European cabinetry. "The Italians are used to living in small spaces, so Arclinea was ideal," he observes. "Storage is a big issue. We needed a lot of storage in a small space."

The kitchen won first place in the remodeled kitchen category in ASID San Diego’s 2008 Design Excellence Awards. "They are passionate about cooking together as a family," says Wilson-Wirth. "They sought a sophisticated but accessible design, in which the kitchen could become the central hub for family gatherings."

Keeping work surfaces to one height maximized ocean views in the new kitchen, also making it easy to keep an eye on grandchildren playing at the pool area and beach below. Arclinea Collection custom cabinetry featuring Italian architect Antonio Citterio’s designs include grey oak and matte white lacquer materials ideally suited to the coastal location, including recessed Italia handles in stainless steel. "Antonio Citterio understands that the kitchen is the heart of the home," Wilson-Wirth observes.

Materials specified are "ecologically sensitive and cutting-edge," she notes, adding that the home also features energy-efficient lighting. Cabinets are made from sustainably-grown oak veneers, ecological panels made from 100 percent recycled wood materials, as well as water-based finishes and sealers.

The kitchen, which features state-of-the-art appliances, also maximizes storage and culinary work functions in ergonomically sensitive ways. Toe-kicks pull out to reveal hidden drawers. Pull-out cutlery trays, spice racks, and dish organizers provide ready access to tools and equipment. A corner pantry doubles as broom closet. A hanging utensil rail keeps clutter off countertops, while a roll-up aluminum door conceals a small appliance garage and pull-out work counter that doubles as coffee/breakfast bar or additional prep station.

A Matrix Doppia suspension lamp by Lumina illuminates a Roche-Bobois dining room table featuring acid-etched tempered glass and a steel base. Two glass panels slide out to create extra seating. "We had 14 people here for Thanksgiving," says the homeowner. Roche-Bobois stools at the adjacent granite-topped kitchen bar/counter provide additional seating.
Translucent woven shades in the dining and living rooms admit light while affording spectacular seaside views. Built-in zebrawood cabinetry created by the architect conceals a wet bar with onyx base, wine cooler, beverage refrigerator, audio/video equipment, and children’s toys. A wall-mounted TV swivels out for easy viewing from the kitchen, living, or dining areas.

Mikada sofas by Roche-Bobois in bold orange, fuschia, green, and brown hues provide both comfortable seating and eye-catching splashes of color in the oceanview living room, where an ottoman slides out to double as extra seating. Rushes protrude through slots in a Ponton coffee table from Ligne Roset in La Jolla, adding a touch of zen-like serenity. An Arco lamp by Flos arches across the space, adding contemporary flair.

"Among my favorite things in life are art, glass, and lighting," says the homeowner. Shelves and cabinetry display a collection of Italian and American art glass, including works by Venini, Segusso, and other well-known artists. Seashells and a whimsical wood screen with hand-painted fish also adorn the living/great room.

Paintings by Mexican artists and innovative lighting reflect the homeowner’s "zest for life," the designer notes.

In the entry vestibule, a whimsical Big Bang ceiling light by Foscarini illuminates a bold contemporary painting by Oaxacan artist Rodolfo Rojas. Travertine stone and exotic dark wood flooring patterns draw visitors’ eyes to the dramatic work of art.
A hall with chocolate-brown walls leads to private quarters; full-height doors add volume to the small space. To create additional bath space for the extended family, the architect borrowed space from a large closet and converted a single bath into a powder room and guest bath, each featuring dramatic green marble counters.

Artwork by noted Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo accentuates vivid hues in the master suite, which also features a contemporary red Dodo recliner chair and Zig-Zag chair, both by Cassina. A custom mahogany-finished headboard and end tables add warmth to the space; Italian sconces and a Tolomeo classic lamp by Artemide provide lighting after dark.

All bedrooms in the home include custom cabinetry and built-in desks designed by the architect, complete with side shelves to plug in cell phone chargers, digital camera battery chargers, and other electronic necessities of modern life. In the master suite, shelves display Mexican artware including a collection of Talavera ceramics. A walk-in closet stores an air mattress for visitors when not in use.

A guest room has a bed plus bassinette for the newest member of the homeowner’s growing family. Off the entry, a second guestroom doubles as den and children’s play area complete with pull-down Murphy bed, L-shaped sectional, and a crib that will be replaced with a trundle bed later on. The room also holds games and a TV to keep children entertained. Two closets off the den provide added storage, including a closet used exclusively to store beach gear.

For the homeowner and her growing family, the remodeled Coronado condominium now provides an idyllic retreat. She concludes with a satisfied smile, "We come here to rest and relax."

Learn more about this award-winning kitchen.

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