It all started with a deck. Jim and Insu Nuzzi wanted more outdoor entertainment space for their Del Mar home, but they werenât sure how to go about it. Their house, on a deeply sloped lot, didnât have much room to expand.
The modern, three-story house, with strong geometric angles and curves, is backed against a cliff on one side and has a steep driveway on the other. Perched on a hillside, the home overlooks Torrey Pines State Beach and the Los PeĂ±asquitos Lagoon. It has an entry on the bottom floor, the main living area on the second floor and bedrooms on the third.
âWe had a little deck where we could squeeze in about eight people,â said Insu, a nature photographer, who specializes in photographs of birds.
With no set idea in mind, the couple turned to Jackson Design & Remodeling to come up with a plan. The Nuzzis told them they wanted an outdoor grill, exterior space to gather and possibly a bigger kitchen island.
The result is a complete overhaul of the second floor that opens the space and extends it to an outdoor living area while letting the view take center stage. The thoughtful design and mix of materials that treats the dĂ©cor as functional art earned the project this yearâs National Contractor of Year (CotY) Award from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry for Jackson Design & Remodeling in the Residential Addition Over $250,000 category. The remodel has also won a national 2017 Master Design Award and a 2018 Chrysalis Award in the same category.
âWe think this homeâs aesthetic and style are truly memorable, and weâre honored to have a wide range of judges agree,â said Todd Jackson, the design companyâs CEO. âEarning industry notice for our hard work while making our clients happy is a fantastic combination.â
The project, which was completed in February 2017, was spearheaded by former Jackson Design & Remodeling senior interior designer Sol Quintana Wagoner. âShe really got to know us,â Jim said. âIt got to the point where we just asked her, âDo you like it?â and if she said yes, weâd say âThen do it.ââ
The design is understated and simple with clean lines, allowing the view and the materials to shine.
âNow the view is the home. It greets you,â Jim said.
Dark porcelain floor tiles cover the kitchen area of the open space and flow into the outdoor addition, which added about 800 square feet to the 3,200-square-foot house. A 15-foot-long island is at the center of the interior space, clad on one side in white high-gloss Thermofoil, warm walnut wood on the other, and topped with a light quartz.
âI wanted a big island,â Insu said. âWhen we have parties, every inch of this counter is used.â
The ebony-stained walnut cabinets over the stove and matching wood cladding on the refrigerator create a sharp contrast to the island and add geometric lines to the space. Light gray-green beveled glass tiles for the backsplash add more sculptural angles.
But what stands out most is the lack of walls.
A system of frameless sliding glass panels completely opens the space to the new outdoor living area, which focuses on luxurious comfort. It also includes Jimâs grilling station. A marble wall on the end holds a fireplace and a television screen, and a louvered ceiling closes automatically when it rains. Automatic screens shield against the sun and the wind, and infrared heaters, flush-mounted in the ceiling, make the space comfortable year-round.
The colors of the indoor/outdoor space reflect the ocean, the natural surroundings and the birds Insu photographs. âItâs classic. Thereâs no need for color,â Insu said. The calm surroundings reflect her quiet personality. Jim, an extroverted financial adviser, is Insuâs opposite. His original vision for the home was more vivid. âI was pushing for color,â he said.
In the end, Jim agreed the muted tones were the right choice, but he did get red knobs for the stove and a red chair next to the bar area, which was also on his wish list. Like the island, the bar is designed for aesthetics and function with floating shelves and a backlit onyx wall.
Onyx also frames the television that hangs over the fireplace in the adjoining living area. With the television programmed to display Insuâs photographs surrounded by the heavy stone frame, the television, too, turns into artwork. The granite hearth is bottom lit by a multicolored LED light strip to add more drama.
The couple, now empty nesters, bought the home in 2005 after it was just remodeled. While Jim, who is president of Nuzzi Financial Network, still works on the East Coast, they were drawn to Southern California by their sonâs love of skateboarding. (Spenser Nuzzi is now a professional skateboarder.)
Jim and Insu had also always wanted to retire on the West Coast. Because they see the house as their forever home, they also had an elevator installed during the remodel.
âWe had to cut into the hillside to put in the elevator,â Jackson said.
âThis is literally a new house,â Jim said. âIâd change absolutely nothing. I feel like Iâm in my own favorite resort.â
Schimitschek is a San Diego freelance writer.