The quaint farmhouse, with neat white trim and early 20th-century gingerbread details, has an almost storybook charm. But what's not apparent until you step inside is the clever playfulness that infuses every room of Cary and Denise Phillips's home.
"We have an extremely whimsical sense of style," Denise says. Work is a source of inspiration for Cary, who has two Academy Awards for technical achievement in computer graphics. "It's all about making exciting images," he says.
A shared affinity for vintage homes and a desire to live near the ocean led the Phillipses to the coastal town of Moss Beach, California, about 20 miles south of San Francisco.
"We've always preferred old-fashioned things," Denise says, and the 1910 farmhouse was a standout. Despite its imperfections ― "The interior was kind of funky, and the attic had been remodeled 40 years ago in a bland and awkward way," Cary says ― they bought it without hesitation.
Eight years later, with twins Zoe and Alexander on the scene, the couple needed to expand. "We wanted to preserve the charm and character of the original structure," Cary says. But they also needed more bedrooms, as well as space to play and gather as a family. They found a kindred spirit in architect Ellis A. Schoichet.
Schoichet understood the lifestyle that the Phillipses wanted their house to reflect. "They insisted that their home be filled with a sense of lighthearted fun ― for the sake of their children and themselves," he says.
He devised a plan that increased the size of the house from 1,880 to 3,200 square feet by expanding the kitchen and adding a new entryway, den/guest room, and bathroom downstairs. He also converted the badly remodeled attic into a true second floor with bedrooms, bathrooms, an office, and a playroom. In doing so, he made the home feel like a new chapter in an evolving history, rather than a break with the past.