After 16 years in their century-old Craftsman home, architect Brett Farrow and his family decided to turn the page and start anew in a modern dwelling that was built, designed, and developed by Farrow himself. Perched on a bluff in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, their new California residence overlooks six surf spots, making it a veritable wave-watching paradise.

Farrow’s project began with the purchase of an abandoned construction site just up the road from their old home. Over the next five years, he transformed this plot into a four-home development, intending for his family to occupy one of the residences. He built slowly and strategically, working on one house at a time and selling each upon completion to ease financial pressures. As the architect, builder, and developer, Farrow retained full artistic control, allowing him to shape every detail of the project.

The design incorporates cast-in-place concrete to retain the property’s sandy slopes, complemented by warm cedar siding and metal cladding that will gracefully age in the coastal climate and withstand the harsh Pacific storms. Inside, rustic exposed wood beams and concrete walls balance modern accents, furnishings, and casework, while full-height glazing offers panoramic views of the coastal scenery.

Quirky yet functional details embrace the beachside location, such as surfboard storage at the entrance and an outdoor shower. Custom cabinet “lockers” cater to the family’s wanderlust, providing convenient storage for luggage and guests’ belongings during visits. Outdoors, a “spool” (a spa-pool hybrid) and a fire pit enhance the space, encouraging both individual relaxation and social gatherings.

Photography © Auda & Auda Photography / Connor Newton / Doug Robichaud / Tomographica

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