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Dana Nichols: What are your favorite elements of the house?
Debbie Clausen: The high ceilings are just fabulous. The brick fireplace and mirror extending to the ceiling were original features. What we did was cover up the bricks and put new mirror glass in. I wanted to leave some of the home's original bones, so leaving the mirror is our throwback to the '70s.
Sofa and chairs: Design Within Reach; lamps: West Elm; rug: Crate and Barrel; bookcase and coffee table: local shop (now closed)
The townhome has three levels, with the kitchen and living room upstairs, the bedrooms and entry on the second level and a two-car garage downstairs, which the Clausens' son transformed into a surfboard workshop.
Daisy greets friends and neighbors at the front door. A wood floor mat catches sand from her paws after long walks on Del Mar Beach.
The townhome is in a nongated community two blocks from the Pacific Ocean.
Tessa is a second-grade teacher and an artist. To make these naturalistic beach scenes for her desk, she ripped sunset photos from surf catalogs and set them in box frames with beach pebbles. Her bedroom walls are painted a green-tinted white, different from rest of the townhome's white-on-white.
Paint: Navajo White, Dunn-Edwards; vase and artwork: Tessa's own work
Removed cabinet doors over the sink showcase the family's collection of handmade pottery.
A witticism spelled out in chalk reminds dinner guests that they're in the home of an artistic family with a youthful spirit. "The chalkboard paint was actually one of the first things we did," says Tessa. "It's just fun."
DN: What was your biggest home design challenge?
DC: It was deciding what to do with the floors. On the lower level we ripped up the carpeting to the concrete underneath, and we love it now, but at the time we were like, 'Should we do that?' ... The [maple] wood floor [upstairs] is pretty well distressed. But there's not much you can do to concrete. Now we love it.
TC: They tore all the floors up, grinded it down and sealed it. You can see the tack marks and everything. The more imperfections the better.
The transition from hallway to master bedroom is subtle. The doors are blonde wood and white paint, and there are concrete floors throughout the house. An antler candleholder from West Elm in the corner is a singular ode to the family's mountain life.
Every room has white walls. "We treated all the walls and ceiling with hand texture," says Mark. "Removing the popcorn off the 1973-style ceilings and putting a smooth hand texture made a big difference to updating the place."
Debbie adds, "The walls are white, and the ceiling and trim are a slightly lighter white. There are two colors of white because I wanted a little bit of contrast. They're so close, you can only tell in a certain light."
Wall paint: Swiss Coffee, Dunn-Edwards; ceilings and trim paint: Whisper, Dunn-Edwards
DN: What is your favorite room?
DC: The bathroom. The countertop is marble, but it's not polished. We really fell in love with that, and everything else came after.
Countertop: Stones Unlimited
The guest bedroom is almost always occupied, as their beach home opens up to a rotating cast of surfer and snowboarder friends throughout the year.
Artwork: Sticky Shaw
Email messages don't stop coming when Mark and Debbie visit. Mark uses this little desk in the sunlit corner of the living room as his office away from home, with a view of the Pacific Ocean just beyond the trees.
"We feel good when we’re here," says Debbie. "It’s very relaxing and soothing for both of us. It's got a great energy to it."
The two-car garage does double duty as a surfboard-shaping room.