Hope Floats

Posted online: July 2017

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By Jennifer Blaise Kramer Photographs Trevor Tondro 

High on a hill at the far end of Hope Ranch sits a slice of Old Europe that was thoughtfully recreated. Owners Andy and Lizzie Tobias came to California via England and South Africa and had precise ideas of what they envisioned living in with their three daughters. Ultimately, they found it in a 3,000-square-foot ranch home that promised panoramic views if they built it up. Now, at 10,000 square feet, their Mediterranean masterpiece is open, airy, and surrounded by lush gardens and ocean vistas, with design details that recall the south of France and welcome a steady stream of houseguests through the door.

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 12.21.09 PMArmed with mental and physical photographs of everything they loved from their previous homes and international travels, Andy and Lizzie took their “borrowed ideas” to the late architect Peter Becker and hired him and business partners Tom Henson and Jacob Niksto on the spot. Next, Becker recommended his “dream team,” which consisted of Mike Fahrenkrug of Fahrenkrug Construction, Eric Nagelmann landscaping, and Randy Franks for architectural review and interior design elements. After construction, Christina Rottman joined the team for interior furnishings and as Andy says, “to put the icing on the cake.”

“The ‘dream team’ as Peter put it was chosen by their willingness to be collaborators and work with our vision,” says Andy, a consumer product designer. Together, the skilled group combined their engineering expertise, creative ideas, and historical design knowledge to create something major, while stopping frequently along the way to assess the volume and feel of each space as they more than tripled the size of the home. Adding a second story and a tall stairwell within a tower was no easy feat to pass with the city, but since the grand home cannot be seen by any neighbors, they were able to proceed with a clear and gridlike path on how it would be done.

Taking in these layers is enough to put someone on sensory overload. Once past the castlelike exterior’s ivy and gates, guests step into the entry courtyard, with underground radiant heat and a welcoming fire lit in the outdoor fireplace. Inside, a bold bar with playful lighting and rattan stools invites guests to the real heart of this home, positioned right off the entry hall, living room, and sunroom with the ocean peeking in at every turn. The Tobiases have had a bar in their last five homes, Andy notes, “not because we drink a lot but because they are such great spaces for gatherings, casual lunches, and morning coffee looking out at the garden and along the coast.

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Upstairs, the master suite is perched above it all, taking advantage of the 360-degree views. Here, Rottman chose custom furniture and lots of linens in soft colors for the bed, from which the entire coastline can be seen. A separate lounge and dressing room open up to a glass hallway and bathroom where French doors allow a view of the sea from the bathtub.

Juxtaposing all the warm plaster, stone walls, cool water hues from the pool, and the Pacific is lush greenery, capping off the dreamy feeling of this Provençal setting. “Eric Nagelmann did things to the landscape that we just didn’t think would work or frankly be possible,” Andy says. “His considerable reputation allowed us to agree to most of his plans and then watch with amazement and delight at what transpired–the most tranquil, interesting series of green spaces that seem as if they have been there forever.”

The family home has served as the site for one of their daughter’s wedding reception, and the doors are frequently open for Ping-Pong in the courtyard, bocce ball on the lawn, afternoon tea in the sunroom, or cocktails overlooking the ocean. The couple loves greeting guests and coming home every day, walking through their dramatic entrance and watching those beautiful layers of Hope Ranch unfold. Says Andy: “It never gets old.”

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