The head-turning, sustainably built house on 8th Street in the heart of downtown Carpinteria is the decade-long realization of a dream for owners Deborah Dentler and Tony Segall. Final elements of construction were completed just as Covid-19 made its terrifying entrance on the world stage, which, for Dentler and Segall, meant unexpectedly sheltering in a place that had recently sprung from two to three dimensions.
Prior to the pandemic, the couple divided time between Carpinteria and Pasadena, where they are both practicing attorneys. For the past 12 years, Dentler and Segall lived part-time in a condominium located next door to the 8th Street property they purchased for their dream home.
They expected that in a few years, retirement would shift them fulltime into the new house and provide ample opportunity for kids and grandkids to rotate through with sandy feet and laughter. Then Covid-19 thrust their professional and personal lives under one roof, rearranging plans for fulltime living and postponing expectations for extended family memory making.
“It was a remarkable experience to suddenly live in and get to know a house we had watched go up, but didn’t expect to live in fulltime,” Dentler says, “Living and working in our brand-new house together turned a house into a home overnight.”
The two-story, 2,000-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath house takes advantage of maximum indoor space, with a second story outdoor deck. Architect David Ferrin thoughtfully made the most of the small lot by artfully designing to the couple’s vision of green living.
“Our goal is to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, conserve water, and help replenish the groundwater supply,” Dentler says.
The house elegantly achieves these lofty goals. The ground floor encompasses an open-air living room and kitchen anchored by a sculptural fire orb that burns biofuel made from corn. Integrated LED lighting is used throughout, as well as dual flush toilets and a tankless water heater. Several rooms have individual, energy-saving units for air conditioning that are used only as necessary. These elements, as well as the rest of the home’s electrical needs, are powered by Carpinteria sunshine.
Dentler poured her environmental passion into the project. Delighting in every detail, she and Segall considered the impact of each material and sought creative ways to stick to a budget without increasing their impact on the planet—right down to kitchen counters, which are made of recycled bottles and seashells and fitted with an inset stainless steel food waste composter.
Upstairs, the outdoor deck flooring is made of custom concrete tiles that float on forms and allow water to flow through the deck into the rain gutters. Run-off from the deck and the exterior wall rainscreening design directs water into native landscaping selected for its tolerance of dry periods. Infiltration beds of gravel were installed beneath the landscaping to encourage groundwater recharge.
An old garage located behind the house was structurally preserved but updated to match the house. A loft in the detached building provides a play space for grandkids. Above it, a living roof planted with a carpet of sedum succulents increases the property’s green surface area, decreases water run-off, pulls carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and reduces heat-reflecting surfaces.
Dentler acted as the point person for the project, while Segall chose the interior colors, including the curry yellow backsplash tiles in the kitchen and the Benjamin Moore Calla Lily yellow on interior doors. Segall also selected the designs and color palette for the molded cement floor tiles in the upstairs master.
The vision shared by Dentler and Segall of a beautiful home with a tiny environmental footprint was brought to life by David Ferrin of arketype architects in Ventura. Founded in 2001, the design firm specializes in “environment friendly, value-oriented design.” Ferrin noted that Dentler and Segall’s commitment to activism and the environment aligned well with his own philosophy. This common ground would serve them well through the design phase.
Not everyone in the neighborhood loved the couple’s forward-facing plans, however. The striking design, with its butterfly roof and bright accents, was appealed to the City Council by neighbors who argued that it wasn’t compatible with surrounding designs. Ultimately, city leaders greenlighted the project and its modern interpretation of California Craftsman-style.
“We were dealing with a lot of constraints,” Ferrin recalled, “including driveways with easements on both sides. The living/kitchen/dining area had to be a straight line with windows in front and back allowing as much light in as possible.”
Exterior bright orange shadow boxes are both functional and attractive colorful accents; they shade the windows and also provide privacy from the neighboring condominiums. Some windows are frosted for privacy, others, like the stairwell windows, are clear.
After all their hard work, Dentler and Segall find great joy in their new home. They looked forward to sharing their excitement with the community by hosting a stop on the next Carpinteria Beautiful Home and Garden Tour, which has been postponed until next year.
“While some in the community were vocal in opposing our plan, others rallied to support the project. We made so many new friends in town as a result! I hope our house will continue to spur community dialogue, especially about sustainable building practices,” Dentler says.