A California Architect Updates a Historic 19th Century Home in Coronado

The new owners brought with them a love for African art and design.

Located in historical Coronado, Calif., this residence was built by master architect William Sterling, an influential San Diego architect that designed noted civic and residential buildings during the late 1880s.

The original house was a 5,260-square-foot residence with six bedrooms, four bathrooms with a guesthouse attached, blending architectural styles with an eye to the heritage of the land and incorporated windows, ventilation and natural light.

The new owners, Kevin and Carolyn Ashley, relocated from Kenya after a successful development of an East African restaurant chain called Java House, which has 55 stores in three countries. They commissioned their architect, Los Angeles-based Stephen Francis Jones, who designed the African restaurants to update the interiors and created a modern home with African influences without losing its century-old roots. The project earned the Coronado Historical Association’s “Going the Extra Mile” award (GEM).

The gracious entry remains unchanged, but elements such as opening up the staircase and removing some interior walls to create vistas between adjacent rooms created new special relationships that depart from the compartmentalized floor plan of the original design.