Living Legacy: Generations connect in hillside compound

Posted on Apr 19 by SEASONS Magazine

The Hamer family, photo by Jim Bartsch.

The Hamer family, photo by Jim Bartsch.

Living Legacy

By Cheryl Crabtree

Photographs by Jim Bartsch

Views don’t get much better than those that unfold from Lauri and Mike Hamer’s home in the San Roque foothills. Islands, mountains, ocean and town sparkle in a 360-degree natural theater, providing 24/7 visual entertainment. A recently completed remodel of the home takes full advantage of this extraordinary setting.

The result: a stunning work of art that pays homage to Lauri’s late father Fred Glenwinkel, the home’s original builder, but also reflects the couple’s artistic vision, creating a warm, livable atmosphere where multiple generations of family relax and socialize.

Fred fell in love with the then-undeveloped hilltop property as soon as he saw it in the 1970s, recalls Pat Glenwinkel, Lauri’s mother, who operated a general contracting company with her husband out of their home in Goleta. With two partners, the family acquired the 27-acre parcel; each taking nine acres.

“We took strings and measured different angles, trying to find the best place to build to let in the views,” remembers Pat. “Fred was very artistic…he could see a vision and follow through with it.” They designed the contemporary 1970s house themselves—a woodsy look with redwood panels and siding and octagonal windows—with the help of an architect. When it was completed in 1978, Lauri was about to start her senior year at Dos Pueblos High School. Her boyfriend at the time, recent graduate Mike Hamer, helped the family move in.

When Fred died in 2000, Lauri and Mike were married with two young children, Zach and Chloe, and living in Palos Verdes. Pat asked if they would move back home with her.

“We always wanted to get back to Santa Barbara…and my mom needed us, too,” says Lauri. “Plus, it let her be a bigger part of Zach and Chloe’s lives —it was a great situation.” The Hamers would also be close to Lauri’s sister Sheryl, who lives nearby in a condo built by Fred, as well as Mike’s parents, Rod and Fran, and sister, Stacey.

At first they planned to build on the second lot, but Pat says “it became obvious that Lauri and Mike needed the larger place for their family, so I decided to build my own new house next door.”

After Pat moved into her new abode, Lauri and Mike pondered a remodel. They consulted two landscape architects, but “we didn’t really have a master plan,” explains Lauri, a clothing designer whose keen eye for color and detail is evident throughout the house.

“We weren’t really sure what we wanted, so we decided to do our master bedroom.” When that project was completed, they experienced an epiphany. “It was always my parents’ house,” says Lauri, “and we were a bit hesitant about changing too much. But the bedroom really felt like ours, and we decided to continue making changes.”

They turned their attention to building a pool—something Fred had always wanted—and to the rest of the house, hiring project manager Lori Smyth and a team to carry out this major remodel.

Landscape architect Lane Goodkind created the schematic for a spacious pool area with a spa, stairs leading up to the house and an outdoor shower and Paul Egan of Stonetree Landscape Architects also worked to interpret the landscape plan.

Architect John Beauchamp came on board to design a contemporary interior that connects with outdoor decks and gardens, keeping the same footprint as the original house. “My initial role as architect was to listen and understand the Hamers’ lifestyle and project goals,” says Beauchamp. “With this understanding, I turned my attention to finding the opportunities waiting to be discovered within the existing structure and surrounding outdoor space. I designed a new way to support the structure, opening the house to the views and landscape with sliding walls of glass onto new decks and into new outdoor living spaces, which were designed to become an extension of the house and a hub for entertaining.”

The old living room’s fireplace wall, which concealed the gorgeous views, was removed and replaced with floor-to-ceiling glass. Soaring 16-foot sliding walls replaced 8-foot fixed windows, letting in light and creating a continuous indoor/outdoor living area that extends through a shaded deck. “The new design pulls people into and through the house,” says Beauchamp. “A person can now walk through the structure onto the decks and engage the views, then continue down to the pool and into the landscape… The home is dynamic—the interior spaces reflect exciting design and allow the indoor and outdoor spaces to flow into each other.”

The contractor was BoMo Design, artisan contemporary builders with Nathan Modisette at the helm.  He says, “the Hamer project is that rare coincidence where the homeowners have a deep personal investment in the integrity of the build and outcome. The emphasis was on how the house would feel when lived in over many years to come. The flow and comfort of the house, coupled with inspired architecture and hand-laid finish details make for a truly distinctive home.”

Finally ready to begin construction, the Hamer family packed up their belongings and moved into a rental near Miramar Beach on a Friday in May 2009—the Jesusita Fire torched the San Roque hillsides the following week. “We watched the fire on TV,” Lauri recalls, “and thought ‘no way our house will still be standing. It’s gone.’ But everyone and everything we valued was safe (in storage), so we thought we’d just start over with a new design from scratch.”

Firefighters miraculously staved off the flames and saved the homes in the cul-de-sac. Construction on the Hamers’ remodel project began almost as planned.

While the design is contemporary at heart, “our fear was that it would be too cold,” says Lauri. “We wanted it to be a warm, friendly, comfortable home, not formal.” They worked hard to make this happen, choosing neutral colors on the walls, comfy furniture, wood floors and bookcases, a chalk wall in the kids game room, wood around the kitchen island and other warmth-inducing elements.

During the remodel, the team worked so well together that they became “part of the family,” say both Hamers. “We’re friends for life now.” Modisette agrees. “We were informed in the first days of the project that Lauri’s father was the original builder, and the house was a family home, spanning three generations… The stories about Fred came forth and played out like a film script, and it became immensely clear that it was an honor to work on such a home…it was a positive shared experience that we hold onto at BoMo as a standard for future projects.”

The well-coordinated team effort evolved into a magical compound that far exceeded the Hamers’ expectations. In their “dream home,” interior and exterior blend as one, and the views that captivated Fred decades ago seem to pour from every angle of the property. “I can check out Campus Point from my deck,” laughs Mike, an avid surfer.

Although Fred isn’t there in person, “his spirit is still in this place,” says Mike. “And it also reflects Lauri’s take on what he started, and in a very cool way it’s kind of like a collaboration between father and daughter. He would be thrilled to see this.”

“We learned from this remodel that a legacy doesn’t always have to be a planned thing, a grand thing or even a tangible thing,” say Lauri and Mike. “Sometimes it’s as simple and pure as passing on the ability to laugh at oneself, to not take life too seriously. And the house, although remarkably beautiful and sophisticated, is not a serious house. There’s a very welcoming and relaxed vibe that permeates throughout, a feeling that we hope everyone who comes inside can sense. As a family, we feel it. Our friends feel it. It’s palpable. At the risk of sounding overly mystical, I really believe that that feeling comes from Fred. In essence, the positive energy we get to enjoy everyday we live here is Fred’s legacy to us.”

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.



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