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San Diego by Design

Penthouse Power


ON THE NEW condominium math. Purchase one unit, add another, and the grand total is: one. One super-sized, customized downtown penthouse with a forever view of the ocean.

That’s what designer Marsha Sewell accomplished for longtime clients Dan and Deanne McGinnis of Indian Wells. Sewell had handled the interior design on the couple’s primary home in the desert and a previous house in Rancho Santa Fe.

“The McGinnises love to entertain in their larger desert home,” says Sewell, a 20-year veteran of the trade. “They wanted an in-town residence to share San Diego with visiting family and friends. That meant they needed more space than most penthouses in San Diego were offering.”

Deanne says they especially needed a guest wing.

The couple zeroed in on Bosa Development’s Park Place, a high-rise at Kettner Boulevard and West Harbor Drive. “When the McGinnises were ready to buy, Park Place sales opened,” says Sewell. “Being there early gave them the opportunity to buy side-by-side, empty-shell units.”

The early purchase gave Sewell plenty of time to design the space, which included a custom kitchen, leather walls in the master suite and the latest in electronic wizardry. Her extensive plans required a separate building permit from the city.

“We upgraded everything, appliances, countertops, bathrooms—even faucets,” says Sewell. “The only things we kept were a bath and toilet in the guest wing.” Build-out took 18 months.

The McGinnises now have a spectacular, extra-large pied-à-terre. It has five outdoor terrace spaces, ranging from cozy to oversized (one patio has a full kitchen overlooking the bay). Sliding doors maximize the space, enhancing the Southern California indoor/outdoor lifestyle. “We never tire of the view,” says Dan, a retired textbook publishing executive. “We have breakfast off the bedroom terrace, and we follow the sun. In the afternoon and evenings we sit on the west-side decks watching the city. It’s kinetic and visually absorbing to the point we seldom watch TV anymore.

“There are only two other units on our floor, but we never see anyone unless we go down and hop on a pedicab or walk to a restaurant.”

Deanne is happy, too. “It has been wonderful so far because it has been so hassle-free,” she says. “We’re up on our own cloud. It’s very peaceful.” The condo interior is Sewell at her best. The finished look is traditional, yet with a nod to modern colors, and the design is contemporary and comfortable. Dark-stained walnut was chosen to “ground” the sky-high space. Special lighting and opaque materials were used to disguise nooks and crannies. The kitchen finishes include unusual colors—dark green cabinets, stainless steel and wood counters, metallic tile splashes and eyecatching cork flooring.

A minimalist effort was desired for furnishings, so the view wouldn’t be compromised. After several master-suite redesigns, the McGinnises settled on a grand space that includes their home office, his-and-hers baths and closets, fireplace and an outdoor space.

Perhaps the most creative component, albeit the least flashy, is the laundry room. It houses full-size washer and dryer units and sink, as well as a hobby area and extensive storage (something missing in most downtown condos).

The couple never had lived in a highrise. They are pleasantly surprised at how peaceful it can be—at the penthouse level. “We’re absolutely surrounded by a bustling city,” says Dan. “We see all forms of transportation up close—planes, trains, trolleys, cars and ships—but we don’t get the noise.

“Best move we’ve made was coming here. We’re the beneficiaries of all the downtown special events, parades, fireworks —all from a bird’s-eye view.

 the penthouse terrace overlooking the ocean MAIN TERRACE: The largest of five terraces faces west. Outdoor wicker from Brown & Jordan, with weatherized acrylic upholstery from Gaiati. Custom patio coffee table by Marsha Sewell.
dining room  DINING ROOM: The table, designed by Eric Brand, converts to a square shape and is available at Thomas Lavin Showroom, Los Angeles. Custom chairs by Marsha Sewell in fabric from Kneedler-Fauchere, San Diego. Art by San Diegan Robert Treet.
 the office OFFICE: His and hers computer stations face southwest. Cabinetry and shelves made from zebra wood. Chair and ottoman from previous home were covered in striped velour from Groundworks.
 the living room LIVING ROOM: Custom sofa by Marsha Sewell is covered in fabric from Kravet. Pull-up chairs by J. Robert Scott in fabric by Boussac Fadini through Pierre Frey. Robert Kuo Studios, Los Angeles, was the source for the coffee table, orange end table, snail-shape bronze coffee table base and green vase.
the bath  BATH: His bath cabinetry is in walnut, with a black granite countertop, framed by custom mirrors. All by Marsha Sewell.
the kitchen  KITCHEN: Cabinetry, including island, is from Kitchen Kraft and available exclusively from Marsha Sewell. Appliances and fixtures include Sub-Zero refrigerator; Franke stainless steel sink surrounded by stainless steel countertop; Dacor cooktop; GE microwave; two-drawer Fisher/Paykel dishwasher. Stainless steel oven hood and countertop installed by Ehmeke Sheet Metal. Window treatments by Hartmann & Forbes though Blake House. Peninsula top in foreground is solid walnut. Hanging light fixture by Artimede is available at Highlights, San Diego.

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