Robert and Sharon Klempen were engaged in Boston and spent many a vacation admiring the city’s historic brownstones.
Longing for an urban lifestyle after several years of living on a ranch in Arroyo Grande, they began looking at brownstones in the Beacon Hill area.
“We never could find one that met all of our needs,” Robert Klempen said.
Imagine their surprise when they discovered just what they were looking for in their own backyard.
The Marsh Street Brownstones in San Luis Obispo are modeled after the architecture of classic New York City brownstones. The new development had their top requirements: brownstone architecture, elevator, garage and rooftop deck.
The seven custom, single-family residences designed by RRM Design Group and built by Mangano Construction also feature second-story balconies, high-end kitchens and a modern, open floor plan.
The Klempens purchased the 3,300-square-foot, three-level brownstone in March 2018 and spent four months finishing the interior before they moved in.
The couple was able to customize portions of the floorplan.
The third floor is a secluded and comfortably-proportioned master suite that includes a laundry room. The second is the great room.
On the first floor, they gave up two closets to create a large guest suite that includes a kitchenette, second laundry, large bathroom and sitting area.
A private entrance to the suite makes it ideal for visits from their children and grandchildren.
The couple used designer Lisa Smith to help them select finishes, fixtures and some furniture.
Sharon Klempen, who was superintendent of the Orcutt Union School District for nine years before retiring, has a degree in interior design.
She researched the style of Boston brownstones and adopted the clean yet classic look of brick against mostly white cabinetry, walls and trim.
Cereghino Masonry clad select walls in distressed brick veneer in a “Chicago-style” brown hue.
Beaded, recessed-paneled wainscoting by Traditional Stairworks adds to the period look, as do white Shaker-style cabinets, subway bathroom tile and an oversized kitchen island topped with quartz that looks like Carrara marble.
Modern-industrial elements create a distinct counterpoint to these traditional finishes. The couple opted for stainless steel appliances, modern light fixtures and mostly contemporary furniture.
The kitchen/dining area has 17-foot ceilings and equally tall cabinetry. Thiessen Design installed a rolling steel ladder that is functional and creates a striking vertical design element in the open great room.
One of the most exciting features of the brownstone for the Klempens was the rooftop deck.
They transformed this space into an open-air great room, ideal for entertaining.
A kitchen area has a barbecue and refrigerator. The seating area is furnished with indoor-worthy pieces including weather-resistant sofas from Restoration Hardware, a firepit table and an outdoor, non-glare television.
A bar and eight-person dining table round out the space. The rooftop also has a half bathroom and home gym.
The Klempens are enjoying their new brownstone and the downtown lifestyle that comes with it.
“We get the city, the college town feel, the beautiful places to hike — and great weather,” Robert Klempen said. “We feel like we got it all.”
In addition to the Klempen home at 1150 Marsh Street in San Luis Obispo, there are three other homes on the AIACCC Home Tour:
Cloudlift, 146 Bluffs Drive, Shell Beach Bluffs
Architect: Fraser Seiple Architects, San Luis Obispo
The Plemons residence is a located on a steep, ocean-facing lot in Shell Beach. The house, named Cloudlift, is built in the Craftsman tradition, with a focus on artisan handcrafted finishes.
7040 Lewis Lane, SLO Country Club
Architect: Daryl Harris, RH Associates, Auburn
This home overlooking the Edna Valley and private vineyard is anchored by a large great room featuring massive roof timbers. Outdoor spaces include a covered porch with fireplace, a tequila cave, and a barn for hosting large family events.
1028 Ocean Blvd., Shell Beach
Architect: Bill Isaman, Isaman Design, SLO
Perched on a prominent corner lot on the south end of Shell Beach, this residence has sweeping ocean views which can be enjoyed from its upper-level master suite, or its many outdoor living spaces including a second-story corner deck and rooftop deck with fire pit, lounge area and outdoor kitchen.
AIACCC Home Tour
The 2019 American Institute of Architects’ Central Coast Chapter in California (AIACCC) Home Tour is Sunday, May 19, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Participants can meet design professionals and builders at each of the four homes on the tour.
Tickets are $30 each, or $50 a pair, in advance at aiacentralcoast.org. On the day of the tour, tickets will be $40 each.
All proceeds benefit local art and architecture education programs for students from kindergarten to college. This year’s tour is presented by Allen Construction and CRS.