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Hidden Among the Pines In Point Loma

One family builds a retreat to fit within the trees already planted.


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“I’m especially proud when clients like the Stehlys tell me their home is so comfortable it feels like a favorite pair of jeans.”

For a custom home to be an elegant neighborhood anchor and a warm family retreat, it takes careful planning and design. And that’s what Christina and Jerome Stehly, partnering with San Diego architect Kevin deFreitas, achieved with their Point Loma showplace.

Realizing the original one-story 1950s home on the Point Loma property could not be remodeled to meet their dreams, the Stehlys made an admirable sustainability move. Rather than demolish the home, the Stehlys relocated it to the family’s organic avocado farm in Bonsall so that additional family members could enjoy overnight farm stays. The Stehlys did however insist on keeping the Point Loma property’s existing pines, and, during construction, had them sculpted to embrace their new home.

Today, the pines frame a five bedroom, four bath villa that feels much larger than 2,900 square feet. The spacious feel is due to architect deFreitas’ light-filled, indoor/outdoor design, which, at Jerome Stehly’s request, was carefully tuned to capture the essence of mid-century architect Cliff May’s iconic ranch homes. 

“I love the flow of the house,” says Christina Stehly. “And I love that Kevin really listened to us. If you look at his [highly contemporary] homes, you’d never imagine he could pull off a traditional home like ours. But he did.”

However, as deFreitas says, “A good architect can easily move between styles—contemporary, Spanish, Craftsman, etc. I’m especially proud when clients like the Stehlys tell me their home is so comfortable it feels like a favorite pair of jeans.” 

The Stehly home’s thick wooden Spanish-style arched main entry door is beautifully framed by curved glass side lights. Inside, the entry space that softens the transition to the living room and hallway, parallels the wall, and is covered by an arched ceiling stenciled with deliberately aged multicolor forms.

Throughout, the home has 10-foot-high ceilings and 8-foot-high doorways framed in rich, dark molding. Downstairs, dark Brazilian walnut planked floors anchor rooms, while the upstairs rooms are cushioned with thick gold carpeting.

The living room is furnished with a comfortable antique sofa and high-backed chairs, and edged on one side by a wood-burning fireplace and on the other by an arched “great window.” 

Upstairs, one room that is often used as an after-dinner family room has a large window and deck surrounded by pine boughs from the trees faming the house. The family has nicknamed this space their “tree house.” 

The heart of the Stehly home is the glass walled, French-door sided kitchen/family room. In the spirit of Cliff May, the room’s views embrace the Stehly’s large outdoor living room patio.

The kitchen counters are covered in a gold-hued solid travertine framed by dark-hued custom cabinets. On the opposite side of the kitchen/family room window wall, a window over the sink and French doors leading to a small deck are oriented to overlook the neighborhood pocket park where the Stehly’s young children often play.

As with many custom structures, the Stehly house could easily be referred to as a showplace. But because of careful attention to design with a focus on family, this lovely Point Loma house is also clearly a home. 

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