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Second Act

A dated Carlsbad ranch revs back to life with a new take on retro.

In the kitchen, minimalist oak cabinetry provides warmth, while bar stools by Greta de Parry offer an eye-catching design moment.

Midcentury-style address numbers echo the home’s era.  

A bold teal stripe adds a pop of color to the guest bedroom.

In the bathroom, custom tiles nod to the home’s midcentury past.

Colorful living room furniture takes the home beyond beige predictability.  

Turquoise-colored stone takes center stage in the living room, with front-row seats via a vintage boomerang-shaped sofa.

A rebuilt pool includes custom tiles and a hot tub, while surrounding wood deck boards were custom finished to match white oak floors inside.  

When Erik Gilmer and Sven Simon discovered an original midcentury home positioned on a prime, corner lot perch overlooking the Pacific, they made it their mission to transform the dated ranch into what they call new-century modern design. “Homes from that era have that indoor-outdoor, great room experience,” says Gilmer, who, along with Simon, is the founder of dasMOD, a design-focused real estate development firm based in Encinitas. “Here we focused on preserving that aesthetic of that era, while bringing in the kind of creature comforts that people want today,” he says.  

The transformation took almost two years, during which time the duo collaborated with The Brown Studio, Inc. to add 1,100 square feet. Now, the spacious, for-sale home ($3.49 million) is a five-bedroom, four-bathroom residence with additional guest quarters. But the project went far beyond simply adding living space. Instead, Gilmer and Simon reconceptualized midcentury form and function while employing unexpected angles, materials and art at almost every turn.

They started with the fireplace, one of the home’s most striking features. Inspired by the Palm Springs feel of the house, the two decided to use a quarry in Twin Palms that dates back to the 1950s. “That’s a unique color,” says Gilmer of the turquoise-toned rocks. “It ended up being the palette foundation for furnishings,” Other standout features include a steel-framed hexagon-shaped window near the entrance, as well as a pivoting mahogany front door. In the open-plan kitchen, the duo kept the lines clean while updating the vintage feel with dramatically veined stone surfaces and warmer woods used for a custom-milled oak ceiling and white oak cabinets glammed up with brass hardware. Not-quite-matching, quirky bar stools make for a modern take on Googie chic.

Colorful furnishings, one-of-a-kind accessories and exciting artworks elevate the house above the typical beige-on-beige spec homes preferred by developers. “We are building custom homes speculatively,” says Gilmer. “With every new home we do, we’re bringing a new perspective.”