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San Diego by Design

Feng Shui Contemporary


WHEN BUSINESS BROUGHT HIM to San Diego, computer executive Ron Cho and his wife, Kris, had their pick of established neighborhoods. The couple chose to live in Santaluz, a relatively new master-planned community in the far northeast corner of the city. The Chos purchased a lot with a great view of the San Dieguito River watershed and the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

The deal-closer for the Chos was a decision the developers of Santaluz made back at “the turn of the century.” DMB Associates Inc. and Taylor Woodrow Homes Inc. decided not to lop off the hilltops of their 4,000-acre tract, known then as Black Mountain Ranch South. Standard practice among tract developers in the West is to create the most level areas possible to build homes, which often means filling in canyons with the tops of hills. Santaluz developers earned accolades from the building industry for cutting the tract’s lots into oval shapes, keeping them nestled into the hillside and maintaining the native vegetation nearby. The curvilinear lots range from 1 to 3 acres and allow owners to face their custom homes in any direction they chose.

This allowed the Chos to adhere to feng shui, an ancient Chinese belief system that’s a combination of art and science. According to dedicated practitioners, such as the Chos, feng shui is firmly rooted in architecture, astronomy, physics and design. The Chos consulted with San Diego architect Alex Friehauf and feng shui expert Cathleen McCandless to get the energy flowing in the right direction for their 8,000-square-foot home. Mc- Candless asked Friehauf to tweak preliminary plans by shifting the front door so it faced the ocean for the best energy flow; she reasoned the back of the house would receive protection from the hillside.

Friehauf says total adherence to feng shui principles was “a bit of a challenge,” but he sensed the couple’s high enthusiasm for the concept and literally went with the flow. Along with the feng shui elements at work in the Tuscan-style villa, the home’s stone façade and dramatic archways lead to many distinctive living spaces and intricate finishing touches inside. There’s a media room with a concealed projection system for family movie watching. The great room showcases 15-foot ceilings adorned with stylized box beams and offers a view of the Pacific. In the back of the home, the master bedroom opens through pocket doors to a courtyard that features an outdoor fireplace.

Overall, the family is comfortable with and energized by their new custom home. “I could feel my chi being zapped from me, working for a high-tech, high-pressure firm in Silicon Valley,” says Ron Cho. He praises his building team for getting everything discussed up front. No surprises, just good energy, he says.

Chi, according to Chinese tradition, is the body’s flow of vital energy. Cho says that prior to moving to San Diego, he was pouring his chi into an engineering job with a business-to-business software giant in San Jose. The Chos renewed their chi by relocating to San Diego, and their custom-built home, founded on feng shui, restored harmony to their lives.

They haven’t looked back


In the dining room, a chandelier hovers over the custom-built table and chairs with fabric by Pindler & Pindler’s Hearst Castle Collection. Accent ironwork throughout designed by Pamela Bain. Wall color is orange suede by Ralph Lauren. Lighting by Concord Lighting. Rare square Persian-design rug from Outrageous Rugs.
Landscaping by Scott Seevers, with Teshima Design Group, frames ground-level flagstone work by Logan Grapp Construction. Light fixtures from Concord Lighting. Breezeway to pool area connects with wings of house. Custom, 9-foot front entry door at right also installed by Grapp.
Maple cabinetry by kitchen designer Leslie Cohen surrounds the Dacor oven, Thermador range with built-in wok and Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer units. The backsplash and work island tile is natural stone in Ramon gold. Walnut flooring by Palemubus Hardwood. Custom ironwork, hood trim and barstools by Pamela Bain.
The Cho residence as seen from the sixth fairway of the Santaluz Club golf course, designed by Rees Jones.
The pool area landscaping by Teshima Design complements the pool and spa installation by Grapp Construction. Quarried Southern Buff stone from Texas is used for the home’s exterior façade.
.Photographs by Roberto Zeballos
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