For years, Neil Bankston and Lisa Patson continent-hopped, traveling frequently and even living briefly in Switzerland. When it was time to put down roots, they wanted it to be for good.
The couple became enamored with the North County after taking part in the Wildflower Century bike ride. They purchased 5 acres west of Templeton in 2011 and began making plans for a custom home that would see them through their retirement years.
The couple researched its design and worked with draftsman Ron Wulff of Wulff Design & Drafting to put their ideas on paper. Their builder was Ted Plemons Construction, and their interior designer, Eliana de Leon of Eliana Interior Design.
Their goal was a modern home, “clean, uncluttered and open on the inside, with an exterior that fit into the surrounding countryside,” Bankston said. They also wanted a customized space where they could immerse themselves in their hobbies and interests — food, wine, cycling, fitness, music and entertaining.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
To help the 4,200-square-foot modern structure blend into its environment, the couple chose light gray stucco and Trespa planks for the exterior. Trespa planks are made of 70 percent natural fibers sourced from sustainable forests. Green-hued accents further “blend in with the natural, wooded environment of the property,” Patson said.
The interior balances cool modernism with organic warmth. Seamless Ecocrete ceramic floor tiles, which are porcelain but look like concrete, extend onto patios for “a fluid indoor-outdoor feel,” de Leon said. Softening those hard surfaces are large swaths of wood, such as the walnut fireplace facade and custom walnut cabinets.
In a minimalist environment, every detail is significant.
So the team paid close attention to each design element, sometimes elevating utilitarian pieces to the level of art. Their floating staircase, for instance, is like a piece of wall sculpture, attached to the concrete board form wall of their great room. This was possible with the use of a material for the steps called finished glulam, a glue-laminated lumber that is normally used for structural beams.
“It took quite a bit of engineering to pull it off,” said Bankston, who noted that workers had to build a prototype to test the design.
Also striking is the front door. The oversized glass and Corten steel door pivots to open, and coordinates with the steel used throughout the home and landscaping.
The couple’s love of food, wine and entertaining influenced multiple design choices. Large sliding doors connect their open concept kitchen to an outdoor kitchen and dining area that includes a grill, Kegerator, poured concrete bar and built-in ceiling heaters.
Cabinets are minimal, keeping the kitchen uncluttered and open. The couple opted instead for a large, walk-in pantry with a rolling barn-style door. They consider it a good tradeoff for upper cabinets that are “difficult to access and often end up as wasted space,” Bankston said.
On the first floor is a wine cellar with unfinished Alder racking, a full glass front view and space for 2,100 bottles. Also on that floor is a guest suite, as well as a hobby room that quickly converts to a bedroom by means of a built-in wall bed, to accommodate overflow guests.
The cycling and fitness enthusiasts incorporated several health-oriented features into the home. Just off their master suite is a home gym large enough for several pieces of exercise equipment, with a birds-eye view of surrounding wooded hillsides. From the gym, stairs lead to a lap pool for swimming workouts. Their master bathroom has a wet room with two shower heads, fireplace and a large two-person tub, “so we can both soak after a long bike ride,” Bankston said.
Music is another passion for the couple. They reserved the space under the staircase for Bankston’s grand piano. Home automation controls a whole-house music system, as well as televisions, lights, window shades and thermostat.
Modern furnishings in a subdued color palette balance comfort and aesthetics. Several pieces of furniture and lighting came from Restoration Hardware’s Modern Collection. Large-scale pieces of modern art add a final layer of color and texture to the home.
Patson said that the house has lived up to their vision; it is tailor-made for their lifestyle and equipped with every desired amenity, including an elevator that will ensure the house will be comfortable and livable for many years to come.
“We don’t plan on moving again,” she said.
CONCRETE CHIC: Concrete has become an essential element for modern-industrial design. But concrete can crack and requires regular sealing. Porcelain tiles with the look of concrete are low-maintenance and available in various colors and textures. Set with minimal grout lines, they offer a nearly seamless look.
MAKE IT YOURS: Reclaim unused space in your home for hobbies and interests. A seldom-used guest room, formal living room or dining room may be better served as a craft room, art studio, game room or exercise room.
FOCUS ON DETAILS: In a spare, modern environment, every detail becomes important. Limit your color palette and keep clutter under control. Also, carefully consider the aesthetics of utilitarian elements such as drawer pulls, light fixtures — and even doors.