When they decided to make a weekend house their full-time home, this family discovered that their entire lifestyle changed for the better.
Photography: Matthew Hranek1 of 12
A Family Affair
When Stephanie and Dewey Nicks planned a house in the small community of Carpinteria, near Santa Barbara, California, it was meant as a weekend retreat within driving distance of their Beverly Hills home. But while the house was being built, they began to worry they’d never get to fully enjoy it, as the family’s weekends became consumed by the various activities of their twins, George and Madeleine, in L.A. “Then we got the idea to move to Carpinteria full time,” Dewey says. “The next thing we knew, we’d enrolled the kids in school there.” Though their new home was two thirds the size of their previous place, they found downsizing a blessing. “we coexist like we never did before,” Dewey says, “and our family is closer than ever.”
Since moving into their California beach house, Dewey and Stephanie Nicks and their children, Madeleine and George, spend nearly every weekend by the water.
Photography: Matthew Hranek2 of 12
The family use built-in bookshelves throughout the house to display their favorite treasures. Here, those include maquettes by Roy McMakin of their former home, a sculpture by Futao Fujii, a Thorens turntable, and a portrait of Dewey’s mom in the 1970s painted by his father.
Photography: Matthew Hranek3 of 12
Music and Art
In lieu of a playroom, a corner of the main living space is dedicated to the kids. George’s drums and a mini Alvar Aalto table are set up in front of a John McLaughlin painting. Concrete floors throughout the home keep it cool.
Photography: Matthew Hranek4 of 12
Even the front porch gives off a beach vibe. The Nickses painted the door with red lacquer and hung a surfboard, a gift from the friend who sold them the land, on the wall as decoration.
Photography: Matthew Hranek5 of 12
Hip to be Square
Madeleine and a friend dance in front of the home. Architect Barbara Bestor went with a flat roof as an homage to the family’s mid-century modern former home in Bel Air -- and to adhere to community regulations. The garden is filled with lavender, native grasses, and herb and vegetable beds.
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Photography: Matthew Hranek6 of 12
The Lived-In Room
In keeping with their more casual lifestyle, the couple slipcovered the living room sofa (which is upholstered in a dressy wool felt) so the kids could dance and jump on it. The bright painting is by Monique Prieto.
Photography: Matthew Hranek7 of 12
A Warm Nook
The couple realized, while visiting the house on a cold day, that they needed a fireplace. Bestor, however, had already designed a built-in sofa. She compromised by shortening the sofa and carving out the fireplace next to it. “We make a fire on chilly mornings or read there late at night,” Stephanie says. “It’s one of our favorite spots in the house.”
Photography: Matthew Hranek8 of 12
Friend and interior designer Paul Fortune encouraged the Nickses to buy these vintage midcentury chairs for the dining room, even though the pale suede seats made them nervous. “He told us to look at any stains that happened as patina,” Stephanie says. The couple picked up the brass candlesticks for a song at a thrift shop in Santa Barbara.
Photography: Matthew Hranek9 of 12
Singing in the Rain
The master bathroom is a perfect post-beach rinseoff spot for Madeleine and George since it’s close to the back door. Dewey fell in love with the tile when he saw it at a Los Angeles coffee shop that Bestor also designed.
Photography: Matthew Hranek10 of 12
The Hub of Action
The couple weighed in heavily on the kitchen design, from the recycling cabinet to the wood-trimmed Formica countertops. “Barbara was surprised we wanted Formica, but we like it because it’s indestructible,” Stephanie says. The Thos. Moser stools are so comfortable that “you can sit on them forever,” Dewey says.
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Photography: Matthew Hranek11 of 12
Let There Be (Natural) Light
Black-and-white photographs hang in the hallway, where sunlight streams in from above (the skylights also open to provide ventilation, eliminating the need for air-conditioning). Throughout the house, Bestor used marine-grade plywood, which creates a modern, light, and beachy look.
Photography: Matthew Hranek12 of 12
Dewey pulling from his whittled-down book collection in the TV room. “We didn’t get rid of any books when we moved, but we have a huge storage unit filled with them,” he says. What they keep here are those that inspire them most. They bought the 1920s Moroccan carpet in Beverly Hills.