Edit ModuleShow Tags

Dome Sweet Home


Published:

A Crest remodel goes from a kit home to a model of contemporary cool

HOUSE DOESN’T SING OR DANCE, accuse or forgive, laugh or cry—yet it can inspire greatness in those who live within its walls. Houses have roofs and floors; homes have souls. That bedrock anchors the human spirit.

The home of Karen and Jeff Sugg in Crest has a big soul.

In October 2003, the devastating Crest fire threatened their beloved dome home. Jeff, with dogged pioneer spirit, fought for his house with the same hands that had built it. Fortunately, the couple were installing new landscaping and had cleared away the surrounding brush the week before the fire crept to their front door. Jeff, who never considered abandoning the house, used garden hoses and shovels of dirt to fend off the backfires that lingered after the main wall of flames roared by.

Jeff hand-built the original structure in 1989 from a geodesic-dome kit, on a little more than an acre in the East County foothill community of Crest. He liked the idea of a kit home because he would be free to innovate.

“He had never built so much as a toolshed,” says Karen, who married Jeff in 1992. “The dome allowed him total freedom to design the inside, because there are no interior load-bearing walls.”

During the early 1990s, Jeff and Karen never quite finished the dome home. The launch of a new business consumed their time—and the money needed to finish the upstairs bathroom. Like many start-ups, M.I.T. Drivetrain Specialists, which they run together, took years to become successful. The shop in El Cajon builds and customizes drive trains on high-performance and off-road vehicles.

A decade later, with a bit more time and cash, the Suggs began to think about remodeling. They needed more space, and tearing down the dome was not an option. Jeff and Karen share a love of minimalist design, and after seeing the work of Encinitas-based architect Guillermo Tomaszewski, they asked him to design their addition. It would bring the total square footage to 3,500.

Geodesic domes are based on interconnected triangular beams that, when linked together as hexagons, create a strong, self-bracing frame. “The form is a little difficult to work with architecturally,” Tomaszewski says, “but instead of trying to add another dome or curved element, we chose to contrast it with a more contemporary scheme.”

The dome was sturdy enough to allow removal of a few interior walls, creating a great room on the lower floor with a new sunken living room. The architect credits the Suggs with the idea for the striking wood-wrapped beams and a contrasting sheet-metal ceiling in the living room. Karen insisted on trimless windows and doors for an ultra-mini-malist look. A gentle hillside allows the main house to keep its view sightlines while permitting a large garage below.

“There are still many remnants of the dome,” Tomaszewski says. “You see the triangles as you walk in the entry, and the master bedroom is pretty much left intact—so you feel the dome, but it doesn’t dominate.”

Because Karen and Jeff worked so hard on the project themselves, they transferred that ethic to everyone involved— from the woodworkers to the backhoe operators, the architect says.

In 2000, as the major remodeling began, Karen suffered a brain aneurysm. The project was put on hold while she recovered.

A year later, the Suggs repaid for their permits and began anew. In addition to contributing to the design concept, Karen worked side-by-side with her husband on many of the labor-intensive tasks, from drywall installation to replacing flooring. She then assumed the role of interior designer.

Tested by adversity, Jeff and Karen consider their labor of love a triumph. Asked what their home means to them, now that it’s finally finished, Jeff says, “Our home is a creation between Karen and me and our partnership in life. When visitors see the house for the first time, they see something unexpected. Some get it, and others don’t. I like that.”


Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

67 San Diego Holiday Traditions You Don't Want to Miss

'Tis the season for fa-la-la fun in San Diego

How to Decorate Your Home for the Holidays

From holiday tables to festive fireplaces—here's how to deck the halls like a pro

25 Holiday Getaway Ideas for Every Climate

Our favorite travel destinations for escaping the cold—or embracing it
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Best of Baja 2016
    46 ways to relax, dine, drink, and play the Mexico way
  2. Stop Killing Restaurants, California
    Raising minimum wage without a tip credit is dumb, dumb, dumb.
  3. Vintage San Diego: How Our City Has Changed Since 1876
    Before bottleneck traffic and the modern housing crisis, San Diego was a swath of undeveloped land, horse-drawn carriages, and dairy farms
  4. FIRST LOOK: Campfire
    Carlsbad gets one hell of a new concept in Campfire from Craft & Commerce vet John Resnick
  5. Why Our Veterans Keep Quiet About Their Service
    From misconceptions about the military to reticent heroism, San Diego veterans share the many reasons they often keep mum about their service
  6. San Diego Magazine's Travel Awards
    Cast your vote now for your favorite hotels, travel companies and attractions
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

CraftHounds - Craft Beer Delivery in San Diego

Craft Beer Delivery - The Best Gift Ever?

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags