By Deirdre O'Shea
FOR MOST REMODELS, you don’t envision 50 people toiling inside your house. But the success story that is the makeover of Mike and Beth Sise’s Point Loma home is a testament to numerous talented craftspeople.
The couple may be better prepared for drama than most of us. Dr. Michael Sise is the medical director of the Division of Trauma at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest, which treats 2,600 patients a year. Working in the office next door, Beth handles the nursing and education side, as director of Trauma Prevention and Physician Education & Research. Both lend their expertise to community outreach and injury prevention programs.
Charming, outgoing and brilliant, the Sises are detail people, to say the least. When Steve Lusk, their general contractor and remodeler, designed a new cupola for the roof, Mike wanted to add a weathervane.
“But as an old Naval officer,” he says, “I was going to have a functional weathervane.” After researching hundreds on the Internet, he finally found an authentic one from a company in England, Otter Wrought Iron (for the curious: weathervanes.co.uk).
The Sise home, on a double lot with a spectacular view of the harbor, faces magnetic east, which also appeals to the former Navy man’s sense of order. In fact, Mike’s first glimpse of San Diego came as a seaman in July 1969.
“When I was 19, I was on a Navy ship that pulled into Point Loma. I was standing on the deck in formation. The Coronado Bridge was just being completed,” he says. “I thought, ‘This is beautiful. I want to live here someday.’ ”
Mike and Beth met in Rochester, New York, where Beth worked as a nurse and Mike attended medical school. He later trained as a surgeon in the Navy and served in the Persian Gulf War. The couple married in 1976 and moved to San Diego, where they raised their son, Robert, now a grad student at UC Berkeley. After Mike retired from the Navy in 1992, he joined the staff at Mercy.
The new job eventually brought the family from Scripps Ranch to Point Loma. With characteristic exactness, Mike notes: “It’s 6.1 miles from my garage to the parking lot at Mercy.”
But it isn’t really the great commute that endears the neighborhood to the Sises. As Mike says: “The interesting thingabout Point Loma is every house has a story.”
Theirs was built in the early ’60s by Jerry Ryan, the son of aeronautical pioneer T. Claude Ryan (best known for building the plane that Charles Lindbergh flew in his famous 1927 transatlantic flight). In then-rural Point Loma, Jerry Ryan had a duck pond, a cow and a raven that lived in a chicken coop and liked to hide in a macadamia-nut tree, swooping down on unsuspecting guests. Unlike most homes today, Ryan’s wasn’t built to invite the view inside.
Over the years, only the kitchen had been renovated. White and airy, it was a favorite room for Beth. But it was walled off from the view to the east, with a narrow passage to the living room and no space for dining beyond the bar top.
“We had two main objectives,” says Beth. “To create more interior space to enjoy the view—saving the horizon as much as possible—and to upgrade the back deck.”
The deck used to be off the kitchen and near the street. Lusk moved it inward for privacy, with access from the living room, and expanded it.
For the dining area/sunroom addition, Lusk designed a room shaped like the prow of a ship. “The Sises belong to the yacht club, and they live in a community of sailors,” he says. A cathedral ceiling allows “as much glass as you could possibly get,” with custom-designed Pozzi windows from Dixieline.
“It ranks in the top two or three most difficult projects I’ve ever built,” Lusk says. “The hour of truth for any remodel is the satisfaction of finishing, and enjoying not only your work but also the joy of the family you work for.”
Lusk Building & Remodeling Company (luskremodeling.com), located in Old Town, was one of San Diego’s earlydesign/build firms. Steve and his wife, Lynn, who has a sales and marketing background, have built the 28-year-old company around residential remodeling. The Sises enjoy hanging out in the sunroom, where they can see all the way to Bay Park. “Steve turned the living spaces into a great room,” says Mike. “And it draws the kitchen into the other spaces.
“Sometimes we bring work home,” he says, “but it’s a good home to bring work to.”
To furnish the addition and the living room, they consulted interior designer Stephen Folks at a favorite store, Ethan Allen in Clairemont. Ethan Allen offers free design services to clients at all its locations. The living room had been done in teal green and white and looked too formal. The Sises wanted something more contemporary, yet casual to go with the kitchen.
“The overall concept was nautical, bringing the outside in,” Folks says. “The architecture of the house, with its horizontal movement, lends itself to the cleaner lines.” He chose furniture in a monochromatic palette of beachy earth tones, using texture for contrast and to highlight the wood pieces.
To cover the oak-plank hardwood floors, Mike picked out Pakistani rugs from Outrageous Rugs in Miramar. In the eating area, a dinette in a woven synthetic rattan adds color and interest. The glass top lightens up the piece, helping to balance all the wood in the kitchen.
“Everything is soft, light and inviting,” Folks says. “It doesn’t say, ‘Look at me.’ It says, ‘Come and sit down and enjoy the view.’ ”