Coastside Vibes

Words by Christina Chahal

They don’t want to be in the Silicon Valley bubble for their entire lives” is how Half Moon Bay resident Jennifer Glynn describes her typical “very laid-back and relaxed” neighbors. “They want their off-time to be real off-time.” Jennifer notes that Half Moon Bay’s mix of artsy types, techies and families creates a coastal community that’s very different from the Peninsula’s Bay side: “Where else can you take a break and walk to the beach with your kids and go surfing?”

Combine Half Moon Bay’s easy access to Silicon Valley with the increasing flexibility to work remotely, and Jennifer isn’t surprised to see a steady influx of Peninsula workers heading over the hill. For anyone who has dreamt of living (or having a second home) at the beach, buying a property coastside is just the first step. The newer crop of arrivals have a modern set of requirements for their seaside abodes.

“The coastal lifestyle is active and relaxed. We find that most homeowners love the idea of forgoing a formal dining room to accommodate a home office, music studio or game room,” explains Jennifer. “Designing by the beach almost always includes a spot for surfboards, boogie boards and wetsuits—along with an outdoor shower.”

If Jennifer sounds like she’s given living on the coast a lot of thought, it’s because she has. Not only does Jennifer live there, she is married to a man whose family has been in Half Moon Bay for generations. She also co-founded Space10 Interiors, an award-winning design firm with a special flair for doing innovative coastal projects. The firm does everything from decorating to new construction to full house remodels.

“We take into account the relaxed outdoor lifestyle that draws people here, and we incorporate that into living spaces,” says Jennifer. “We use a lot of natural materials and textures, a lot of local art and craft pieces and we make sure that our designs are really livable.”

Space10’s other founder, Barbara LaVigna, describes their clients as wanting a beach town vibe fused with the kinds of quality touches found in a primary home. “It is the custom details made from natural materials or crafted by hand that make our designs feel luxurious and inviting,” she says.

Before meeting Barbara in the Cañada College design program, Jennifer worked in marketing and events. And while Jennifer is a native Californian, Barbara grew up in upstate New York and Boston and worked in tech before settling in Portola Valley. She describes having an early affinity for the West. “I always knew I wanted to come to California,” recalls Barbara. “I fell in love with the idea of living and being in nature and near the ocean—the general aesthetic, the art, the architecture. I really fell in love with outdoor living.”

The number 10 in Space10 Interiors is a nod to the Tenth Street Studio Building, built in New York City in 1858. “It was a place designed for architects, artists and craftspeople to collaborate at the dawn of American architecture,” says Barbara. That maverick way of thinking put Greenwich Village on the map as a destination for artists, and it informs Space10’s design philosophy.

Barbara points to the many unique aspects of the firm’s coastal design work.

“There’s a lot of texture we use here on the coastside that we don’t necessarily deploy in our other projects. We use glass, metal, lots of nubby fabrics,” she says. “Finishes can be a little bit reflective of sand or pebbles or wood. You walk down the beach and pick up sea glass, rocks and driftwood—they’re all very common materials that you can literally find anywhere here, and so we try to represent them in our designs.”

Another important factor is light. “When we walk into a home, we are constantly taking into account the direction of the ocean, which means the direction of the type of light that you get in each space,” explains Jennifer. “There are a lot of reverse floor plan homes, meaning that the main living space is on the second floor and the bedrooms are on the first floor. That’s something unique to this area, to take advantage of some kind of view, whether it’s a view of the valley, a view of the water or a view towards the water.”

“We also take into consideration fire pits, heat lamps and heated seats and floors,” adds Barbara. “Those are the types of functional things that people really appreciate and that help them to live outdoors for longer periods of time.”

Barbara and Jennifer think through every detail, including how the windows and doors play into airflow, a critical calculation to mitigate blazing afternoon sun. “Living on the coast can be somewhat like living on the water,” says Barbara. “The conditions can be hard on a house. And so we are really good at selecting specific materials and finishes that are not only beautiful, but durable and can withstand the environment here.”

That means constantly hunting down marine-grade materials when it comes to lighting—whether it’s metal finishes that will hold up over time or specifying cedar overleaf wood. There’s also a heavy reliance on outdoor fabrics. “Outdoor fabric technology has come a long way,” says Barbara, “and it looks just like luxurious indoor fabrics, except it’s highly durable and cleanable. There are a lot of outdoor rugs that can be used in interiors, and we often use vinyl wallpaper, which can still have the textural feel of beautiful grass cloth or jute, but we’ll do it in a vinyl so that on the moisture standpoint it has durability. It really holds up.”

For projects on the coast, Space10 emphasizes the use of colors found at the beach or in the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains.

“Our designs are much more nature-inspired here than our projects elsewhere,” notes Jennifer. “We use things that patina; that’s the best way I can describe it, things that will age—a very kind of Northern California way of seeing things, a more organic palette.”

What you won’t see is the typical kitchy beach decor you might find in other parts of the country. “Much more quiet and much less fussy” is how Jennifer sums it up. Barbara agrees, reflecting, “As partners, we embrace this collaborative spirit to create warm, modern spaces.”