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Modern Style

 

e spent a lot of time looking for the right house to spotlight in this issue. It had to be somewhat environmentally sensitive. Not a perfect cave, mind you, but at least a shade of green. And we were hoping for an element of affordability. Eye candy was a prerequisite; it had to look good in photos. Most of all, we were looking for a house with style.

We found one (cover and p. 36) that wears a hat: a voguish steel lid that would have made Carmen Miranda blush. Digging deeper we discovered that the house wasn’t entirely new, in spite of its contemporary look. Rather than tear down a mid-century bore on a nice lot, the architect, Studio Dig’s William Growdon, had removed the old roof but left much of the original structure.

Sure, from there he knocked down walls and basically reconceived the place. But he didn’t start the construction project by slashing and burning everything in sight. It’s a relatively cost-effective and environmentally sensitive approach to architecture. Growdon greened it up even more by using high efficiency windows and floors made from fast growing bamboo or Trex, a material composed of recycled plastic bags.

And the house certainly doesn’t lack style. From the moment I saw its roof I was pretty sure we’d found the right place. A retro-cool Airstream camper in the driveway helped convince me, and a bizarre, futuristic-looking addition sealed the deal.

Stuck incongruously to the back of the house, the metal and translucent glass box—How else to describe it?—floods the stairway with natural light, lending the property a unique touch of panache. It is the flamboyant scarf that sets off the steel hat and completes the outfit, so to speak.

Style goes a long way. At CandleLight Kitchen and Bar (p. 27) in downtown Ventura, it effectively launches a late Victorian house into the stratosphere of the new millennium, converting historical City Landmark 78 into an ultra-contemporary restaurant and nightclub.

The hip scene isn’t for everyone; some people will, understandably, find it over-the-top. This is a place where torches dance in a waterfall, where 20 people at once recline on a supersized divan or sip cocktails named “Desire” and “Envy” in an eyeball-themed lounge. The concept is worlds removed from anything that’s been attempted at the location, which has seen ordinary restaurants come and go over the years.

But passersby won’t likely notice anything different at 211 East Santa Clara Street. From the outside it looks about the same—the familiar old house that’s been there since 1912.

A lot of Ventura County’s cool is hidden away like that. Which explains in part why people tend to overlook our area, blowing past the strip malls and car dealerships along the 101.

But then they find themselves on back roads through rural utopias like Hidden Valley, Somis, and Upper Ojai. Or watching a world-class performance at the Ventura Music Festival (see special program in this issue). And they wonder what else they’ve been missing just off the freeway.

Most of us know. They’re missing quite a bit, enjoyed largely by those of us who call this place home.

Thanks again for your support. As always, feel free to drop a line and let us know what’s on your mind.

04-01-2009

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