Great Escapes: Hilltop Hacienda

Old world charm defines this San Diego patio.
A Hilltop Hacienda

A Hilltop Hacienda

A beautiful fireplace is the focal point of this San Diego home.

Photo by: Image courtesy of AlphaStudio Design Group

Image courtesy of AlphaStudio Design Group

A beautiful fireplace is the focal point of this San Diego home.

The climate may stay enviably temperate and hairstyle-friendly year-round in San Diego, but on winter nights a chilly breeze riffles the chaparral around the Pacific coast.

So a fireplace seemed a natural focal point for this hilltop hacienda, developed by AlphaStudio Design Group, a small, full-service architectural firm specializing in high-end residential, education and commercial projects.

1. Gas Fireplace

“The owners wanted a cozy, intimate, not-too-overwhelming space for happy hour, so we designed this fireplace with easy-to-use gas logs,” says Paul Gallegos, who founded the firm with Josh Eckle. The stand-out detail is the trim of small tiles hand-painted in Sedona, Arizona, to depict a Mexican floral design in turquoise, orange and yellow. A small waterfall feature beside the fireplace adds subdued “white noise” for tranquility and an elemental “fire and water” effect. “We wanted a warm, earthy feel,” Gallegos says.

2. Tile Flooring

The flooring consists of porcelain tiles with variegated, earth-toned striations to mimic hand-formed tiles and complement the fireplace trim, Gallegos says.

3. Resilient Furniture

The furniture includes high-back UV-resistant, resin wicker chairs with oil rubbed metal arms and legs to withstand the elements. Dark browns and bronze colors add warmth. Pillows are covered with Sunbrella Specialty Weave fabric to resist mildew and fading in “crimson” to “pop” off the white surrounding walls, creating energy for the space, Gallegos says.

4. Custom Door

The door is custom-made with a glass panel that facilitates a line of vision between the outdoor and indoor spaces (a billiards table can be glimpsed from the patio). The bell adjacent to the door functions as an old-fashioned, clanging signal for afternoon refreshments, and the wrought-iron grating incorporates a similar bell design into its motif.

5. Stylized Accents

Deep-recessed windows and more wrought iron accents add to the “adobe” look of the Spanish and Mediterranean haciendas popular in this part of California. “We provided two-piece mission tile for the exposed, heavy timber rafter tails in the thickened mortar set installation to complete that Old World look,” Gallegos says.

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