Designer Jennifer Jones Reimagines a Santa Cruz-Area Beach House as a Modern Seaside Retreat

Coastal Calm

  • Category
    Homes + Spaces
  • Interior Design
    Jennifer Jones of Niche Interiors, San Francisco
  • Landscape Architect
    Andrea Cochran
  • Contractor
    Louis Pak
  • Architectural Design and Lighting Design Plans and Project Management
    Ace Robey of Studio AR
  • Photographed by
    Paul Dyer

California native Jennifer Jones imbues her work with a distinctly West Coast vibe and clear contemporary vision. “Inevitably I add a few global influences, too,” says Jones, who studied art history in Rome and has spent decades traveling voraciously. “Ultimately, though,” she points out, “California’s natural beauty and light are key to me when creating a new design.”

Both elements are treated with Jones’ expert eye in the residence seen here. “When our longtime client purchased this 1950s beach house, it was outfitted with dark wood paneling and heavy stained-glass windows,” she says. The home’s best feature—the stunning ocean views—were treated as an after-thought. Jones set to work opening spaces and letting the sunlight in. “Having worked with this client before, we understood his aesthetic and crafted a textural but neutral palette throughout.”

The tone of the thoughtfully designed home is set from the street. A sleek wall gives way to an enclosed courtyard with large stone pavers and a mix of meticulously arranged cacti, palms, and succulents. A stunning glass door provides unobstructed views through the home to the enticing view beyond.

Once inside, massive floor-to-ceiling glass doors by Fleetwood open from the great room to the deck, enabling the space to spill out to the ever-constant Pacific waves. Jones added rich materials like white oak to the floors and ceilings and juxtaposed the warmth of the wood with cool board-formed concrete counters in the kitchen and white raked tiles in the baths. The furnishings throughout the home lean modern—a nod to the residence’s Mid-Century roots. Sculptural elements and vintage pieces add depth and even more texture.

When asked about her favorite pieces in the project, Jones relates, “I love the vintage Charlotte Perriand leather dining chairs (which she scored on 1stdibs) and the Holly Hunt chandelier in the dining area.” Both the chairs and light fixture feature black wrought-iron elements, providing an industrial feel that echoes the room’s black ceiling beams and the wrought-iron railing on the deck. Jones softened the iron touches by adding a streamlined Scandinavian-inspired white oak dining table and sectional sofa upholstered in a soothing seafoam green facing the fireplace. The iconic “Pelican” chair by Danish master craftsman Finn Juhl faces the sofa and a custom carved wood coffee table, creating a cozy spot for conversation. A marvelous painting appropriately titled The Water’s Edge by Stephen Foss marries the soothing colors of the space.

The kitchen, too, features clean lines and thoughtful details. A large counter offers plenty of seating for entertaining friends and family. Pared-down wood cabinets with elegant notch handles recede into the background, allowing artistic pieces like the brass and glass drop pendant lights over the island to take center stage.

Adjacent to the great room, the master suite features the same jaw-dropping ocean view. To keep the focus on the seascape, Jones rendered the space in soft whites and ivories. A painting by Udo Nöger from San Francisco’s Dolby Chadwick Gallery hangs above the upholstered headboard. A pair of ebony stained carved wood tables are topped by glass sconces and flank either side of the bed. And a bench upholstered in charcoal wool is the perfect spot to take in the sunset at the end of the day.

A floating glass and wood tread staircase rises to the second floor, which features a colorful family room with a pitched ceiling and series of windows that wrap around the space and offer glimpses of the sky and rugged hillside. “We wanted this space to be fun and inviting,” says Jones. “We played with vibrant blues and greens and made sure to use materials that are resilient. This is a beach house, after all, and needs to live up to sandy feet.” She topped the sofa with another abstract work titled Summer Dreamed by artist Pauline Ziegen. Additional bedrooms and baths on this level feature a soothing, restrained palette, making them perfect for a good night’s rest after sun-filled days at the shore.

“It’s such a special place,” notes Jones with a smile. Indeed—it’s the stuff of dreams.

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