When Mark and Kathy Torcaso wed in 1994, merging their lives involved selling two separate houses and starting fresh with a new home that they created together.
They purchased a hillside lot in Los Osos with sweeping vistas of the bay and coastline. Designer William Hurley of Dos Osos Timber Works helped them work out a floor plan, then drew up renditions of three architectural styles: Mediterranean, Spanish, and Santa Fe. “We really liked the way the Santa Fe one looked,” said Kathy. “It suited our informal lifestyle.”
With the help of Hurley and general contractor Jeff Van Lith, they selected thick stucco for the exterior, rounded corners inside, and massive interior ceiling beams made from hand-hewn pine logs. Flooring is a combination of Mexican Saltillo tiles and reclaimed old growth Eastern white pine in random plank sizes.
To forge a connection between the home and its environment, the couple chose to have it wrap around an interior courtyard. Kathy, who likes to garden, appreciates how the courtyard windows offer views of her potted flowers and plants from several rooms.
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“We’re very outdoorsy people,” said Kathy. “It makes us feel like we’re outdoors all the time.”
Windows around the outside of the home were carefully situated to take advantage of ocean or hillside views. Additionally, the footprint of the home was planned to preserve as many oaks and Manzanita on the property as possible.
The Torcasos chose to build a modestly-sized home of 2,000 square feet.
“We don’t have children, and although we have lot of company coming and going, two guest bedrooms seemed like more than enough,” said Kathy.
Their garage is oversized to accommodate storage and space for hobbies. One spare bedroom is now an office that is easily converted into a guest room. Richard Clark of Fresh Kitchens and Baths Plus Wallbeds built an office wallbed and cabinetry, as well as other cabinetry in the house, in knotty pine to coordinate with their existing woodwork.
The process of combining two households’ worth of furniture and belongings took time. The couple kept pieces that fit well with the style of the home or had sentimental value. For instance, Kathy held onto her collection of Catalina pottery that reminds her of childhood vacations in Catalina, as well as the fact that the couple was wed on the island. They also have heirloom antique Hawaiian koa furniture that has been in Kathy’s family for five generations.
Gradually, the Torcasos began to acquire new pieces together. Believing that simple, straightforward designs work well with Southwestern architecture, they purchased several pieces of reproduction Mission and Craftsman-style furniture. They also acquired reproduction Catalina tile that they used on exterior walls, around the den fireplace, and as accents among the floor tiles.
The home was completed in one year, but projects have been ongoing. Through it all, the couple has discovered that they are not only compatible as husband and wife, but as a design team.
“We really enjoyed building the house together because we have a lot of the same ideas and tastes, so it was 98 percent a really good experience,” said Kathy.