What would you do with 2,000 square feet of extra space? That’s the question Josh and Stefanie Jacobson had to answer when they upsized to their new Santa Margarita custom home.
The couple had previously lived with their two young children in an urban-style loft above their business, San Luis Obispo screen printing and embroidery company J. Carroll. When they acquired their rural four-acre lot in Santa Margarita, they knew they were in for a dramatic lifestyle change.
“We liked the idea of our kids being able to ride their bikes and run around outside, and also to not have neighbors right next door,” said Stefanie.
They contacted San Luis Obispo architect Bill Isaman of Isaman Design who had also designed their loft. They initially approached him with two primary requests: to capture views of the Santa Margarita Valley and to have the architecture complement the rural setting.
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Isaman developed a design for a contemporary early California, Spanish-influenced home, which the couple knew was right-on for their needs. They gave him the freedom to explore his vision for the home, which resulted in features such as a turreted entryway, angled roofline, clerestory windows, and floating ceiling beams in the kitchen.
The home was large — 4,900 square feet — leaving plenty of room for the couple to manipulate the interior space to suit their specific needs.
One feature they requested was a large playroom for the kids. Isaman designed an approximately 800-square-foot space over the garage that could be converted into a studio apartment in the future. With its own bathroom and access to a large patio, it was the ideal solution to keeping toys out of adult spaces and keeping the kids’ rooms tidy.
The Jacobsons were initially set on a Jack-and-Jill bathroom between the kids’ rooms, but foresaw future squabbles between their son Luke, now age 5, and daughter Gwen, age 3. They decided instead to give each child their own small bathroom.
They sized the hallway outside the kids’ rooms large enough to accommodate a long built-in desk. It’s the ideal spot for the kids to do homework and allow Josh and Stefanie to monitor their computer usage.
Not all custom features were geared toward the kids. The Jacobsons asked for a spot to relax once the kids are in bed.
“The great room is so large, we wanted a place that’s a little more intimate,” said Stefanie.
Isaman came up with what he called the “chill room” — a loft area just outside the master suite large enough for two recliners, a wall-hung television and a small fireplace.
Another grown-up indulgence was a large master closet plumbed for a washer and dryer so they could do quick loads without having to haul clothes downstairs to the laundry room.
Selecting finish materials is Stefanie’s forte. She plotted out the interior design with the help of her mother Elisabeth Levy. Although the home is Spanish, she took the liberty of mixing in contemporary elements like a slate tile backsplash and modern pendant lights in the kitchen. In the master bathroom, she designed dramatic ceiling-height mirrors backed by sleek, dark-stained wood paneling, based on a photo she found in a magazine.
“I don’t like things too matchy-matchy,” said Stefanie ,“but we still wanted it all to work together.”
Moving from their smaller loft, the family needed a great deal of new furniture. They were happy to learn that Stefanie’s uncle was downsizing and needed to part with some of his furniture. There was just one hitch — he lives in Germany.
Stefanie traveled to Germany to hand-select several pieces of antique furniture, pottery and paintings. Her uncle also gifted them several pieces of furniture imported from South America, such as Brazilian-made coffee and end tables built from salvaged woods.
The couple was not prepared, however, for the expense and hassle of shipping a container of goods overseas.
“It seemed every other day there was another fee or paperwork that was required,” recalled Stefanie. “In the end it was well worth it. We have pieces that no one else has and I love that it makes our home that much more unique.”
The Jacobson family moved into their new custom home in October 2009 after one year of construction. They have adjusted easily to the new lifestyle and the added space
“It lives surprisingly smaller than it is,” noted Josh. “It functions so well for us, it doesn’t feel that big at all.”
Rebecca Juretic is a freelance writer who lives in San Luis Obispo.
Architect: Bill Isaman, Isaman Design
Builder: Mark Sullivan Fine Custom Homes