A gorgeous renovation sweats the small stuff

A multidisciplinary California studio revamps the home of a
special client—a founding partner’s mother

California’s Central Coast sprawls with arable land, and is
dotted with farms, olive groves, vineyards, and orchards.

This verdant area has also been home to the family of Deb
Compton, a second-generation walnut farmer who lives just north of
Paso Robles. In 2013, as a decades-long era of walnut harvesting
came to a close, and after a recent remarriage, Compton pared down
her belongings and looked to refresh her home’s kitchen and
master bathroom.

After all, says Compton, “30 years is a long time to live in a
home. And it was time for a change.”

Luckily Compton knew a guy: Her son, Bryan Boyer, founded the
multi-disciplinary design studio Dash Marshall with Amy Yang and
Ritchie Yao in 2009. Dash Marshall redesigned the kitchen based on
Compton’s routine, and maximized every square inch of the space
with built-in cabinetry and by installing what Dash Marshall calls
a Super Pantry.

The kitchen was designed to suit the way Compton cooks. After she
saw the kitchen renovation, it was clear she would turn to rest of
the home next. De La Espada
Solo Breakfast Stools
by Neri & Hu line up along the
high-top table.

It’s what it sounds like: a souped-up custom pantry system
that deploys Vitsoe modular shelving, and can be closed off with a
sliding perforated-metal door—plus it’s roomy enough for
grandchildren to find a nook for taking refuge during a game of
hide and seek.

“The basic idea is that if you’re going in and out of the
pantry all the time, it might as well be a nice space,” says
Boyer. “It is two layers, so you can pull the door back and get
access to some stuff on the outermost layer of the pantry or you
can go into a more traditional space.”

Compton and her dog on the home’s stairway. A walnut bumper
designed by Dash Marshall mitigates damage to high-traffic

The new configuration made the kitchen feel open, clean, and
more accessible.

When Compton saw the plan for the kitchen renovation, she
recounts saying “‘well that’s crazy, you can’t just do
that!’”. “It was a ‘house within a house,’ Bryan called

Over the course of four years, Boyer, Yang, and Yao sensitively
updated Compton’s home, bringing its interiors—a preponderance
of oak, wall-to-wall carpet, and an ’80s color palette to
match—into a new era, gently nodding with their new scheme to
California’s Mission style, Alvar Aalto’s use of wood, the
whimsy of architect John
, and the “vernacular metalwork of Central Coast
farms,” a mélange of styles and references that embodies the
studio’s evolution over time.

“We’re super nerdy architects at heart, but we try to hide our
own fascinations inside a bigger story that you don’t need to be
an architect to appreciate,” says Boyer, noting the influences of
Alvar Aalto and John
on the home.

“We all were just beginning to branch out from where we had
previously worked,” says Yao. “Some of the design cues we were
pushing in the early part of the project were more straightforward.
Two or three years later, when we started the second phase, we were
a little more confident in the execution. It definitely shows the
growth of our office, and allowed us to test different

The architects dubbed the guest bathroom the “Marshmallow” for
its curved stucco-and-plaster walls. A Gala
by Rich Brilliant Willing hangs above a Duravit sink. The mirror is custom,
designed by Dash Marshall and fabricated by Ormonde

The renovation is full of thoughtful details, many of which feel
as though they’ve been in the house the whole time, and others
that give the interiors a revelatory refresh. Dash Marshall
connected the sightline between the entry and kitchen island by
installing a custom walnut column in homage to the family’s
farming history. Walnut bumpers, installed on stairway bannisters
and corners, offer a bit of warmth; they also help mitigate damage
to plaster in high-traffic areas.

In addition to the “Super Pantry,” another crucial element
of the interior design is the main-floor guest bathroom, dubbed the
Marshmallow because of its curved stucco-and-plaster walls. With an
ouroboros-like circulation—sink, vanity, shower, toilet—someone
using the Marshmallow moves through each function while being
intrigued to keep turning the corner. The bathroom is tucked
underneath the home’s second floor, which is an open-plan level
in which the family can gather, and that includes a full bath.

Both the Marshmallow and the supports beneath the staircase
reference the whimsical designs of John Hejduk, whose “little
creatures are a constant inspiration for us,” says Boyer.

The master bathroom features curved wooden storage and custom
leather pulls.

A seating nook in the master bathroom.

“We’re super nerdy architects at heart, but we try to hide
our own internal fascinations inside a bigger story that you
don’t need to be an architect to appreciate,” he adds.

The master bathroom is dashing, with curved, wooden storage and
a seating nook. There is just a small stationary mirror on an
island in the center of the room, which also houses a hatch for
toiletries. The entry from the bedroom was relocated from its
original position off to the left to create an easy transition both
physically and visually.

“These small alignments were made throughout the
house—moving doorways and passageways—here and there to create
views at the end of wherever you’re walking,” Boyer

“The materiality of the [original] ceiling against the white
walls is part of what makes the Mission reference work for us,”
says Boyer.

Dash Marshall designed the walnut bumper seen here to complement
the white walls and mitigate damage to high-traffic areas.

The challenge of the step-by-step renovation approach is laid
bare in the living room, Boyer says. Instead of removing the
fireplace, for example, something Yao suggested at the time, they
just painted the tan bricks white to better blend in with the
walls, and had to hang a tapestry to cover a carved sculpture above

“The materiality of the [original] ceiling against the white
walls is part of what makes the Mission reference work for us,”
he says. “We were taking those things and trying to work with

Compton appreciates that the interiors can be delightfully
startling for an unexpecting guest, but says they’re still warm
enough to be cozy; Yao and Boyer feel like they made a space where
someone can relate to the architecture without knowing its whole
story. This is especially important in a multi-year renovation,
where spaces can easily begin to feel disjointed and reference
points obtuse and esoteric.

“One of the great things about the project was that we had an
opportunity not only to explore [form and material], but to explore
it in a manner that evolved over time,” Boyer says. They didn’t
experiment for the sake of experimentation, he adds. Instead, they
worked “from the perspective of how people want to live in the
space,” says Boyer. “And understanding the way that those
rituals or routines play out in a building.”

Source: FS – All – Architecture 10
A gorgeous renovation sweats the small stuff