Thursday, October 21, 2021

New California Coastal Retreat by Architect Cass Calder Smith and Interior Designer Nicole Hollis

Stinson Beach, one hour north of San Francisco, is the seaside location where architect Cass Calder Smith and interior designer Nicole Hollis teamed up to create a young family’s new weekend house. It’s designed for easy come, easy go. The perfect year-round escape.

Sunrise brings a sense of place and a feeling of peace within the green embrace of forested slopes of Mt. Tam. There’s surfing, hiking, swimming in the lagoon, trail biking. Afternoons offer excursions to nearby West Marin farms for produce, flowers, and cheese and local wines.

Come with me for a private visit—DIANE 

“The architecture of this modern beach house was the result of subtractions, additions, refinements,” San Francisco architect Cass Calder Smith “Stinson Beach has always attracted leading designers and architects. Notable architects who have created houses in Seadrift include William Wurster, Joseph Esherick, and Stanley Saitowitz among others.” 

Cass Calder Smith has created three new houses in Seadrift over the past ten years.

Stinson Beach, very low-key and casual, makes the perfect setting for a young surf-loving family. Here on the Western edge of the continent, an ever-changing panorama of fog, waves, and placid lagoon is the background of the ideal escape.

The light constantly shifts with the whims of the weather, and this new Stinson Beach weekend house exudes an almost tactile sense of calm and permanence within.

Newly remodeled by architect Cass Calder Smith and Bjorn Steudte, and with relaxed chic decor by Nicole Hollis, the house has become a beloved year-round gathering spot.

At the end of each sun-struck day, the family enjoys bounty of the season from organic farms just a few miles north along Highway 1. They fire up the grill and dine outdoors and watch the sunset.

The low-key house was ideally located but ready for a change.

“It was built in the mid-1960’s, and slowly it had succumbed to winter storms and summer heat and the marine environment, and many of its characteristics became obsolete,” said Calder Smith.

Interiors were designed by Nicole Hollis, with Honey Kearns planning the landscape. The overall design, the materials and the finishes, and the landscape are intentionally casual and naturalistic.

Beyond the new more open façade, key rooms are oriented towards the placid lagoon and simultaneously inward towards its intimate and sheltered courtyard.

It’s a very transparent building from every direction with expanses of glass and views of water and mountains. This architectural clarity and refinement also maximizes the indoor-outdoor effect.

“Most of the house was demolished and expanded to make it a ‘restoration’ of a mid-century beach house,” said Calder Smith. Rooms were expanded and altered. Various roofs were lifted, windows and glass doors enlarged. Every interior and exterior element was replaced – from the siding to the floors, to the fireplace, and the flora. The courtyard and decks were also replaced with the additions of a firepit and waterside Jacuzzi. Fine craftsmanship from the carpentry to the metal work to the furnishings were a high priority all with the goal to make it appear untouched, true to its origins.

Hollis selected a contemporary mix of vintage, modern, and custom pieces that are in sync with the casual mid-century design of the house.

The sense of place and easy access to the beach and the lagoon encourage socializing for all ages. Days are spent sailing in the lagoon, surfing and fishing in the ocean, bicycling and hiking.

“For the ultimate beach house vibe we created the refinement of the family’s great art collection and the custom furnishings surrounding them,” said Nicole Hollis. 

There are works by Tara Donovan, Sheila Hicks, and George Nakashima and others. A mix of modern and mid-century furnishings and lighting complement the art collection giving the cottage an approachable lived-in feeling, said the designer.

Hollis said she is happy that the house is relaxed, flexible and durable, and welcoming throughout the seasons.

“The views through the large windows and sliding doors act as art and compliment the interiors,” said Hollis. “The house itself isn’t huge but the views are so grand. I love the juxtaposition.”


Architecture | Cass Calder Smith Architecture+Interiors
Design principal: Cass Calder Smith
Project Architect: Bjorn Steudte

Interiors | Nicole Hollis
Design Principal: Nicole Hollis
Project Designer: Marco Zamora

Landscape Design | Lehua Gardens Inc.
Honey Kearns

General Contractor | Allen Construction
Tom Moore
Jim Allen

Photographer |  Paul Dyer

Kitchen | Henry Built

Area | 2100 square feet

  • The kitchen showcases ceramic tile in Midcentury White by Heath Ceramics, Misty Carrera countertops by Caesar Stone and cabinets in Blue Raven laminate and roasted walnut by HenryBuilt Cabinets.
  • The living room fireplace is made of San Anselmo Standard Corso Long Format Whitewashed Terracotta Fireplace Brick by Cooritalia.
  • White stained and wire brushed cedar walls and reclaimed oak floors are featured throughout the house.

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