Ocean Muse


Architect Malcolm Davis rescues a beach shack on the brink of ruin

Cabinetry by Brimer Workshop is topped by Pure White Caesarstone. The sink, by Julien, is accented by a faucet from Chicago Faucet. Dual Glaze tiles from Heath Ceramics add a subtle glow. Photos throughout by Joe Fletcher Photography 

“It was a mess but the potential was endless,” says architect Malcolm Davis about this beach home in Pacifica which the client purchased as a “distress sale.” Taking inspiration from the gabled fishing shacks found in Scandinavian coastal villages, Davis modernized and expanded it to accommodate the homeowner’s growing family. “He wanted a three-bedroom home with a modern flow, a cool studio space and an outdoor place where he could see the ocean,” says Davis. 

“When I’m working with something existing,” says Davis, “I try to play up its strengths.” Those included Douglas Fir subfloors and sloped framing. “That brought about a major visual transformation,” Davis shares, “Because Pacifica is so foggy, we punctuated the space with skylights to bring in sun.” 

The exterior was painted black. New windows with bright white frames offer a compelling contrast to the dark siding. Inside, the original Douglas Fir tongue and groove flooring was sanded down and patched with reclaimed material. Separate live and work spaces are connected by an outdoor roof deck that serves both parts as a communal dining and lounging space. Excavating underneath the house, an involved process which involved hoisting the structure up in the air, added to the home’s square footage without creating a larger street presence and impacting the neighbor’s views. 

Gracie Turner of Home Polish chose classic, modern pieces to keep the focus on the architecture. The client’s sizable collections — of books, typewriters, birdhouses and quirky curiosities  — are housed in the library within open frame cubbyholes. 

The results fulfills the client’s wishes…and then some. “He and his wife left San Francisco to live there full-time,” says Davis, “He told us that the way that light moves through it is wonderful. They love hearing the waves at night from their bedroom window.”

Framing lumber in the dimension of 16” on center x 16” on center is the basis for the library’s arresting shelving.