At Home With Jeff & Cheryl Smith
Published on December 5, 2012
Just steps from the Del Mar beach, Jeff Smith and Cheryl Kellogg-Smith’s homey Cape Cod is all decked out for the holidays. A fire is crackling in the stone hearth on this crisp winter’s afternoon, and a festive tree sparkles with Baccarat crystal ornaments, collected by Cheryl’s mother since 1983. Comfortable blue couches are tossed with squishy pillows, and photos of the “blended” family’s five grown children, ranging in age from 21 to 30, are scattered about the house. While we snap photos for Ranch & Coast, a fluffy grey “rescue cat” named Winston observes the scene from a safe distance at the top of the stairway, while Jake, a 14-year-old Golden Retriever, retreats to the porch.
Cheryl, a slender, bubbly blonde, who laughs easily and often, is decked out as well, wearing a Christmas-y red Rick Owens dress (definitely too small for Mrs. Claus.) Jeff, too, is physically fit, an outdoor lover who hiked Mt. Whitney earlier this year, as well as the Grand Canyon with Cheryl and friends. Life at the beach clearly suits this active couple, who were married at Powerhouse Park. Now empty nesters, they often bike to Cardiff or walk into “town” to visit the shops and restaurants in Del Mar.
When the Smiths found their beach property in 2008, their combined acumen in custom building and business would come in handy. Jeff heads up Smith Brothers Construction, the firm he founded with his brothers more than 30 years ago. A former Solana Beach firefighter, Jeff worked in construction during days off, learning the business from the ground floor up. Over the years, his company has earned a reputation for designing and building fine custom homes, with projects in Southern California and Hawaii. Cheryl, the firm’s vice president, was formerly general manager at The Fish Market in Solana Beach, and knows her way around a kitchen. After living in the beach house for a year, the Smiths tore it down and started over, creating a charming bungalow with the help of architect Richard Bokal and interior designer Doug Dolezal.
The couple knew exactly what they wanted: “An indoor-outdoor space that kids and dogs could go in and out of with sand on their feet, and not get stressed out about it,” says Jeff. With one child still at home at the time, the couple didn’t need as much room, downsizing from a 3,500-square-foot home in Carlsbad to their current 2,400. “Once you do it, you don’t miss it,” says Cheryl. “Less is more — less to clean, less to deal with.” Even so, the three-bedroom house sleeps ten. And last summer, the couple hosted daughter Carly’s Connecticut College volleyball team: 17 girls for three nights. “There were kids everywhere!” says Cheryl with a laugh.
What the house might lack in size, it more than makes up for in efficiency. The compact kitchen, which opens onto the dining and living areas, is cleverly designed to provide several workspaces so people aren’t bumping into each other when they’re prepping food, cooking, or cleaning up. The butcher block island has its own prep sink and built-in storage. The range has a stovetop griddle, an oven large enough for a turkey and all the trimmings, and a “big, beefy hood,” says Cheryl, “so the smoke alarms don’t go off.” (There’s also an extra oven and microwave near the fridge.) A plate rack is conveniently located near the main sink and a two-drawer dishwasher. Throughout the kitchen is space-saving cabinetry, and what Jeff calls “all the little secrets” including hidden spice racks, flanking the oven, that slide in and out. With white cabinets, marble counters, and gleaming hardwood floors recycled from a chocolate factory in Boston, the kitchen seems more expansive than it really is.
The Smiths love to entertain year-round in the outdoor dining room warmed by a fireplace, and if need be, heat lamps, where curtains can be drawn for more privacy. They threw a rehearsal dinner for 60 in the space, which opens onto a deck with a hot tub and nearby putting green. Upstairs, a deck off the master bedroom offers more space for entertaining, or a private retreat for reading and lounging. Cheryl calls it the “sweet spot” — with its unobstructed views down the street to the beach, where, sure enough, at this very moment, the sky is turning pink, as the sun sinks slowly in the West. 858.350.1445, smithbrothersconstruction.com Andrea Naversen
Photography by Doug Gates