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Hilltop Hacienda

Perched atop the hill in Cielo, Rancho Santa Fe, a pristine villa defines indoor-outdoor living


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On a clear day, one can see all the way to Santa Catalina Island from the classic Spanish ranch-style home atop the hill in Cielo, Rancho Santa Fe. Architect Paul Gallegos, principal at AlphaStudio Design Group, says his team was able to maximize ocean views by identifying peak view corridors on the site. “It was important to the homeowners that their new house have a seamless indoor-outdoor feeling,” says Gallegos. “They moved from the East Coast and wanted to enjoy the year-round beauty of San Diego’s natural environment,” explains Gallegos. Sweeping ocean views are just part of it.

The three-bedroom home incorporates a great deal of outside space in its design. There is a sizeable outdoor patio by the pool, a private garden, and a cozy sitting area with a tiled fireplace. “You can be outdoors for all four seasons in San Diego and they hadn’t had that opportunity before,” says Gallegos. The homeowners told him they wanted a fireplace so they could relax outside with evening cocktails. “Every night is a perfect sunset, which was very important.”

The homeowners were instrumental in the design and construction of the custom home, which took nearly two years to complete. “Everyone involved collaborated closely,” explains Gallegos. “They wanted a home that reflected the classic Rancho Santa Fe elegance, which has clean lines and not a lot of adornment, so we used a smooth hand-troweled stucco finish, clay tile roofing, and heavy timber accents.”  

Gallegos says that his favorite part of the home is the light and airy game room because of how it brings the outdoors in. Plus, it has a jukebox on which the homeowners play oldies during their afternoon pool game. While the California classic home embraces the San Diego lifestyle, it also pays homage to the owners’ East Coast roots by incorporating the wood from a tree from their previous property. “There was an old-growth tree that needed to be cut down, but the wood was so beautiful that they had it milled and shipped it San Diego,” Gallegos explains. “Now it’s part of their bar.” 

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