Building a Better Beach House

Building a Better Beach House

Building a Better Beach House

Designer Jill Shadek crafts a minimalist San Francisco beachy escape that’s anything but cookie-cutter coastal.

Photos by Vivian Johnson.

For Jill Shadek, designing a second home in Stinson Beach, California, started with a philosophical quandary.

“At the beginning of this project we asked ourselves: ‘how do you design a beach home that’s not your typical cookie-cutter Cape Cod style home?’” Jill says. “This goal certainly resonated with me, as someone who grew up on the beach in San Diego, but has lived in large, gritty cities ever since.”

Instead of drawing from classic coastal style, Jill focused on a brighter, global inspiration and pulled a palette from the kind of colorful blankets native to Mexico and South America. The overarching vibe: “A minimal, industrial beach home, with funky, colorful art integrated throughout,” Jill says.

The family’s tastes and talents made achieving that radical coastal departure for the three-bedroom, two bathroom, 1900-square-foot space (expertly designed by CCS Architecture) easy.

“There’s an edginess to this family—the parents are into industrial design and art and love going to Burning Man every year,” Jill shares. “The kids are surfers and skaters. The experimental vibe of this home comes out in the form of unusual materials like concrete and art choices, like the black and white shark print and the Kelsey Brooks LSD print.”

That LSD print in the living room was just one signature stylish piece Jill had to jump from. The family already had a swath of unique artwork to draw from, a bonus for a designer looking to best gauge what her clients really wanted.

“The clients started with art that resonated them, and worked backwards, which is why the home is a true reflection of their personality,” Jill says. “The clients had a good idea of the direction they wanted to go with minimalist architecture and then funky furniture with colorful art, but needed help putting it all together.”

To keep things from getting too avant-garde, Jill leaned on neutral beach tones for balance.

“There was a lot of attention to detail that went into the design and materials of this home,” Jill explains, complimenting the architect. “The inspiration for the neutral colors was the driftwood on Stinson Beach, so there is lots of weathered cedar incorporated all over the house. Their general aesthetic is clean and modern, and when mixed in with the organic elements the result is just magical—all the elements blend together perfectly.”

With the sand-inspired backdrop, Jill layered in the bold shades surfers can’t resist—without leaning on trite accents.

“Obviously the beach was a huge part of the inspiration for this home, since it’s just across the street, but more specifically, the family is very into surfing,” Jill says. “One inspiration photo that the clients showed me in the first meeting was of a bunch of multi-colored surf fins, and that stuck in my head throughout the whole design process. I love how we incorporated a surf-vibe into the home without using a single surfboard or fin.”

That meant sprinkling larger technicolor moments through the house without going overboard. The dining room feels boldly Baja, but the living room maintains an icier neutral vibe (thanks to that stunning silver fireplace) with some subtle hints of hues and colorful throws and blankets accenting other chill spaces. From there, Jill ensured the home was designed to optimize the kind of relaxed gatherings a beach house necessitates.

“Since it is their second home, the clients wanted to create a space where they can gather on the weekends to spend quality time,” Jill says. “The layout of the home favors larger common spaces and provides the kids with a large shared bunk room. They wanted the stunning views of mountains and nature from the west side of the home to take center stage without the design of the home or any furniture or fixtures distracting attention away.”

The furniture might not distract, but it’s definitely worth investigating, especially since the family crafted some of it themselves.

“The family wanted to somehow incorporate a piece of art that they had created into the home,” Jill says. “The husband’s hobby is welding, so he created the base for the live-edge slab to create the dining table in their garage-turned-workshop/artist studio. We chose to paint the base chartreuse to match one of the colors in one of the dining room art. The dining table is definitely a favorite—it’s the first thing you see when you enter the home, and it draws you right in.”

From there, Jill kept things minimalist so each piece could have maximum impact.

“The challenge was: how do we bring all these new elements into the space without covering up all these clean, organic elements that are so perfectly balanced?” Jill explains. “Rugs were only used where necessary, leaving much of the concrete floors exposed. And for the walls, we didn’t want to do anything too busy that would take away from the clean, white walls and wood-paneled ceilings. We very thoughtfully and intentionally chose specific pieces of furniture and art to create the feeling that everything in the home is custom.”

The entire house projects a level of coolness you can’t help but covet, even if you are the designer.

“At the end of the project, I confessed to the client that I hope to own the same high-contrast shark print,” Jill admits. “It’ll be mine one day, when I can find a place for it in my home!”

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