Home & Garden

Contemporary comfort at Avila Beach home

The second-level deck has the same travertine floors as the rest of the home. Avila Pier can be seen in the background. The sculptural patio furniture is made of foam and all-weather vinyl.
The second-level deck has the same travertine floors as the rest of the home. Avila Pier can be seen in the background. The sculptural patio furniture is made of foam and all-weather vinyl.

Ernie and Margie Nolte’s Fresno home is country casual and houses 35 years of family memorabilia. When they want a dramatic change of scenery they head west to their Avila Beach vacation home, where not only the view but the décor offers a fresh change of pace.

When the Noltes began building their beach home in 2007, the desire to capture the best views dictated its flat roofline and modern architecture. Fresno architect Michael Karby designed the home. The Noltes hired their own subcontractors and their son John Nolte oversaw construction.

Not long after they broke ground, the couple decided they required the services of a professional interior designer. Amber Jackson of Shell Beach’s Amber Design came on board to assist with everything from selecting finish materials and fixtures to helping them shop for furniture.

“When you find a designer you’re comfortable with and you’re on the same wavelength, they keep you in tow and don’t let you stray too far off the path,” Margie noted.

The Noltes wanted a light and airy home, subtly evocative of the ocean. They wanted the same cool, modern feel to flow throughout the 3,500-square-foot house and out into exterior spaces.

They started with a palette of crisp white and other light neutrals which, according to Jackson, “left the canvas open for all colors.”

And so the pale color scheme is shot through with soft greens and blues pulled from the ocean — in the sea-foam green granite kitchen countertops, the turquoise crystals in the modern fireplace and the watery blue glass tile in the bathrooms. The exception is the master bedroom, where jolts of red add energy to the space.

The couple owns an air conditioning and sheet metal business. Ernie, an adept metal fabricator, created the stainless steel fireplace surround and a bathroom light fixture. Throughout the house, steel and glass create an air of industrial chic in everything from furniture to art.

Organic materials add a layer of warmth to the home. The Noltes chose polished travertine tiles for the floor, which continue out to the second-floor deck. Their freeform teak dining table from Habitat is made from a vertical cross-section of a tree.

Hoping to add color and life to their glass and stone kitchen, the Noltes originally planned to install a fish tank. But when the reality of caring for tropical fish became evident, they instead purchased an oval glass case to display a collection of seashells.

Supporting local artists and artisans was also important to the family. Years ago, they became enchanted with the glass art of local artist Frank Zika. Recently, they purchased a piece for their foyer that is evocative of rippling water.

When the question arose of how to fill a long staircase wall, Jackson recommended a mural by San Luis Obispo artist Marcie Hawthorne. With its underwater tropical theme, Margie likes the way it adds color and whimsy to the home.

Completed in August 2008, the house has become a second residence for the Noltes and their extended family. Although it is more modern than they are accustomed to, they believe it is a good fit.

“Yes, it is contemporary, but it’s comfortable,” said Margie, “and it’s just so pretty.”

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