Belvedere Bayside Beauty

Opulent modernist project strives to blend with its choice private-beach Marin location
Fridays on the Homefront
The above rendering, which illustrates an expansive home with mid-century modern stylings planned for vacant beachfront land in Belvedere, heralds an encouraging trend of stylish Northern California designs in the California modern tradition. It is now for sale. Renderings courtesy Sean Bailey Design and Joshua Deitch

A dreamy modern house design sited on an even dreamier beachfront lot on the San Francisco Bay was listed recently for the jarringly real price of $6.95 million.

Even if that price tag puts the Belvedere listing on Fantasy Island for most of us modernists, it still heralds an encouraging trend of stylish designs by a highly regarded Bay Area architect of California modern homes.

The property's owners, according to its listing agent, Joshua Deitch of Compass real estate, bought four adjacent lots in Belvedere two years ago without knowing exactly how they would develop them, but "they knew they wanted a modern language, for sure."

Fridays on the Homefront

As the story goes, the owners then hired Sausalito-based consultant Douglas Elliott, who steered them to architect Sean Bailey of San Francisco's Sean Bailey Design.

"Sean is like an up-and-coming superstar because he's done some other work in Tiburon that fetched some really high prices," said Deitch, who himself has built a small number of modern homes in Marin County. Consequently, he said, "I have a good range of knowledge of how it all works."

"It just felt like a pretty special site," Bailey, 37, said of his first impression upon visiting the 7.4-acre parcel designated 3820 Paradise Drive. Noting its frontage by a private beach on San Francisco Bay, he added, "There just aren't too many of them left."

Fridays on the Homefront

Like his architectural hero, Richard Neutra, Bailey said he generally strives for designs that are "deferential to the site," which in this case had been a yacht club in the 1950s. For such a choice location, said deference apparently includes the building of two structures: a five-bed, seven-bath main house of 7,400 square feet, and a one-plus-one guesthouse with kitchen.

"It started out as a concept design and it sort of morphed into getting design approvals," he said of eventual certification of his plans by the county planning department. "We are fully approved for [building on] all four lots at this point."

  Fridays on the Homefront
Architect Sean Bailey: "It just felt like a pretty special site."
 

A native of diminutive Evergreen west of Denver, Bailey said he "was exposed to architecture a ton" by his father's construction business, but experienced an epiphany upon seeing mid-century modern homes in California while attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.