Ultimate Home Tour: The Facade

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When an adventurous client with an appetite for color teamed up with the architecture firm Shubin + Donaldson, the result was a vibrant home that stands proudly apart from its more traditional neighbors in Hope Ranch, the oceanfront enclave in Santa Barbara, Calif.

“Our client was about to retire, and he wanted a contemporary structure with a Mexican flavor,” says Robin Donaldson. “So we went with him to Mexico.” There, Donaldson and his partner, Russell Shubin, selected materials, including the hand-carved front doors, and met with architect Jorge Adler, who consulted on the project.

The architects intentionally kept the front facade of the 11,000-square-foot structure windowless, while framing the rear with massive 10-by-18-foot windows. “The moment you step into the house, you feel completely transported,” Shubin says. “We wanted to blur the distinction from the inside and outside, but at the same time give it a substantial feel,” adds Donaldson. “We made the walls a rigid 18 inches thick to give them weight, but we also included doors that open onto the many reflecting pools. Essentially, we’ve incorporated the outdoors and come up with alternative room transitions.”

The architects exaggerated the perspective by placing a long reflecting pool on the same axis as the entrance. “There was definitely a manipulation of light,” says Shubin. “When the sun reflects through the house, it enhances the earthy colors, which really come to life.”

The style and texture of the rough plaster and limestone contribute to the Mexican feel. “We wanted to do something subtle with the interior,” says Donaldson. “The wood floors are made from Tzalam wood. I don’t think I’ve seen it used anywhere else like this.”


Shubin + Donaldson Architects

310.204.0688, 805.966.2802


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