The home’s sleek architecture inspired Brian Brown’s interior design. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN BROWN STUDIOS
Brian Brown looked to wood, natural elements and international influence in transforming this North Pacific Beach home into an inviting, spalike retreat.
Southern California native Brian Brown has always been inspired by global post-World War II design, which focuses on the utility of objects. “Wood and stone fixtures that came about from international design have captured me,” says the principal designer at San Diego-based Brian Brown Studio (brianbrownstudio.com). “I try to find things that bring in nature and natural elements while still being modern.”
A piano in the living room belonged to the homeowner’s father. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN BROWN STUDIOS
In February 2018, a client entrusted him with renovating her North Pacific Beach home, nestled atop a hill on a quiet street—with ocean views from the front, and the back surrounded by trees. “She wanted it to feel more open and better organized for [more] tranquility,” says Brown, who had complete creative control. To him, the three-bedroom, three-bathroom abode, built in 1975, had the aesthetics of modernism and the comfort of contemporary—but was “a Frankenstein of sorts.” Adds Brown, “It was a hodgepodge of different remodels, where all of the work done was incomplete or shoddy. Essentially, I had to strip it all down to make it a blank canvas.”
The open kitchen and living room feature art pieces from Natural Curiosities, Four Hands and Bobby Clark PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN BROWN STUDIOS
Using the stunning architecture as a starting point, Brown wanted to ensure the interior was in harmony with the exterior. “It is a boxy home, which was a challenge,” Brown says. He sought to create an open, unified space out of the four smaller levels: a garage and entry on the first level; a second level housing two bedrooms and baths; a third level with the open dining room, living room, kitchen, and front and back patios; and the fourth level with the primary bedroom and bath, and an adjoining patio. “I wanted the transition of each room to be the same so that spaces would feel a lot bigger,” Brown notes. “I ended up knocking down [and replacing] the exterior walls with windows to emphasize the stellar ocean views.”
modern outdoor furniture extends the neutral interior palette. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN BROWN STUDIOS
The seascape impresses upon first walking in. “The kitchen as well is a big wow factor, as the large island and beautiful wood from the cabinets instantly bring your eyes in that direction,” says Brown, who opted for clear finishes to showcase the natural lines and color of the black walnut. “I tried to use wood and natural elements anywhere I could so that I could soften the boxy architecture.” The warm wood adds contrast to the black and white backdrop—created through Dunn-Edwards white paint, Porcelanosa flooring, Jaipur rugs and black motorized shades. The open kitchen also boasts integrated Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances, INAX Japanese tiles, Mater pendants and CB2 stools. Says Brown, “I wanted to use a neutral palette, but I still wanted some standout elements.”
Brown integrated natural elements like wood to add contrast and bring the environment in. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN BROWN STUDIOS
One such element is the grand piano in the living room, which belonged to the homeowner’s recently deceased father. “Having it front and center was very special to the client,” says Brown, who incorporated art pieces from studios including Natural Curiosities, Four Hands and Bobby Clark. “My team looked in a lot of different places to find the right ones that fit the home and the personality of the homeowner herself.” The open and inviting living space also flaunts ample windows and contemporary leather chairs from Modloft. “I used fabrics that mimicked linen, but are actually indoor-outdoor fabrics, so that they could withstand the active lifestyle of the homeowner,” he says.
A Camerich bed is flanked by Arteriors lamps in this sleek and simple bedroom. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN BROWN STUDIOS
Brown designed the bedrooms to be simple and chic: “a place to rest, but in style.” His sleek, neutral designs feature Arteriors lamps, Four Hands and Camerich dressers, and Camerich beds. A black, white and wood-toned office (the third bedroom) doubles as a music room—with drums, guitars and amps—and the basic bathrooms are devoid of clutter. “I wanted to make sure everything looked clean to make the room feel like a spa,” says Brown, who used Brizo fixtures, Caesarstone countertops, wood and Porcelanosa tiles. They removed a closet to create a breathtaking view from the luxurious Kohler bathtub. “We wanted to make sure the bath had the ocean as its focal point.”
The spa-inspired primary bathroom features a stunning Kohler tub, Porcelanosa tiles and Brizo fixtures. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN BROWN STUDIOS
By August 2019, the home had transformed from one that garnered little attention to one that people stop to photograph—with eye-catching landscaping by Brown’s cousin, Christopher Brown of C.M. Brown Landscape Architect (cmbrownla.com). “It is tiered up and has a methodical repetition of the plants, making it a piece of artwork,” says Brown, who nodded to nature with modern outdoor furniture. “There were beautiful pine trees that had been there forever, so we celebrated them.” However, the best part of the serene and modern oasis is hidden out of sight. Says Brown, “Tucked away, there is a hot tub in the hill where you can see the ocean.” Paradise found, indeed.