Dressy Casual

Posted on August 5, 2011

I am posting this so you can have an opportunity to see how a design develops.  Currently under construction, this Beach Home is completely different from the previous. Both are in Encinitas and only about a 15 minute walk from each other, yet the styles are completely unique.


My philosophy has always been that good architecture is independent of style. The “bones” of the previous looked to be more of a ‘storybook’ home, whereas this one was more of a challenge. This 1970s hodge-podge sits on the hill with views of the ocean and came across to me as more of a beach cottage feel.

To the left here is one of the first photos of the project that I took.


This is the sketch of the front of the house. The original request of the client was to ‘fix’ the exterior and only do a “face-lift” — that is, to take off all the exterior finishes and give the house all one style or identity without adding square footage. After seeing the sketch, the scope of the project increased.



This is a rendering of the project as designed in the construction documents. You can see that there is a lot of trust from one stage to the next. The design did not change much at all, but the 3D version adds a lot of depth to the design that can only be inferred in the beginning.

The “style” here has been hard to define from a ‘book’ standpoint. However to help explain it to the owner, contractor, and others, I have called it “dressy-casual”. The vertical lap siding is informal and consistent with a lot of beach cottages. The detailing, however, is borrowing heavily from the very formal rules of the Georgian style. Kind of like wearing jeans with a nice white collared shirt — a.k.a., “dressy-casual.”


…. and here is where it currently sits in construction. The exterior is pretty far along. We still need the stonework, but I think the ‘dressy-casual’ is easier to see here. It is also easier to see how the stone (when installed) will settle the house nicely into the site. The color beautifully pulls in the sky and the water into the design and will provide contrast to the lush landscape designed by Shellene Mueller.

[One point of interest you will (hopefully) never notice: Since the windows and doors on an existing house did not take into account the future design, I went to the site and drew lines for the contractor on the outside of the building where I wanted every vertical batten. The reason (believe it or not) was so that you would not notice them! Almost every vertical board is spaced differently, but they (generally) start from the centerline of a window or door, expanding or contracting slightly before they come in conflict with the next window/door centerline. A time-consuming optical illusion, but hopefully worth it in the end.]

See more of this project here.