La Selva Gem

A Modern Tuscan Villa

La Selva Gem

This modern beauty is the result of a construction project that went totally right. The owners are the sweetest people you ever want to meet. They are smart, savvy and have excellent communication skills. They shared their desires and trusted us to get the job done.

The Tuscan inspired home sits on top of a hill that provides an expansive view of La Selva Beach and the Monterey Bay & Peninsula beyond. Reshaping the property for all of the different utilities and drainage required an 8-foot dig-down. The dirt was then re-compacted in 12” lifts.

The owners had very clear ideas for a modern high-functioning home with an old-world feel. While large, it is an exceedingly efficient structure. Externally it features multiple hips and rooflines from flat to barreled vaults and conical. These are all lifetime roofs made up of clay tiles, metal or long-lasting PVC. Many of the roof sections also hold photovoltaic solar panels. The variety of rooflines define the home’s space, inside and out.

Supporting the roofs, the Tuscan ambiance is achieved through extensive stone cladding, stucco and multiple grape arbor trellises on the walls. Copper flashing, downspouts, etc. feed a massive drainage retention system. Cast stone pediments and windowsills provide striking accents to match the high trim, wall caps and eyebrows. Nearly 1700 square feet of travertine patios spread out from the house. The centerpiece of the patio is an infinity plunge pool that can be converted from cold to hot in minutes with the aid of the nearby solar system.

Strolling through the central courtyard, visitors are greeted by whimsical statues, sculptured greenery, inviting patios and a water fountain.

Moving in through the gracious front door at the apex of the horseshoe shaped main house, the design reveals two distinct wings. To the left is the working wing containing an office, gym and utility room. On the right, the bedroom wing consists of the master bedroom & bath, two guest rooms with an adjoining gallery, a home theater and garage.

At the apex of the house, the common areas anchor the design. The expansive great room encompasses the living room (complete with piano nook and Rumsford grand fireplace), kitchen, dining area and breakfast alcove. The temperature-controlled wine cellar is a few steps from the kitchen. Adjacent to the living room is an indoor/outdoor kitchen designed to take advantage of the temperate climate of the central coast. 6-panel bi-fold doors open onto the vista provided by the travertine patio near the infinity pool. When the cold and fog roll in the doors easily pull closed and the fireplace transforms the space into a cozy dining room. One can easily see that the owners might spend a lot of time here.

Interior details add to the comfort, functionality and beauty of the home. Radiant heat floors are fed through high-efficiency boilers. The central vacuum system utilized two canisters: one in each wing. In the kitchen, a cast stone exhaust hood sits over a handmade La Cornue stove. Decorative trusses and beams lend a sophisticated air to the living room. In the gallery, built-in cabinets showcase memorabilia that makes the room feel like Christmas, year round. The spacious home theater sits between the master and guest bedrooms. It is specially soundproofed for with a sound system that can be connected to or separated from the integrated sound system that allows music to be heard both inside and out. The master bath features a jetted tub with a view into an enclosed courtyard with water fountain.

Designed for overflow during large family gatherings, the ADU has its own bedroom, bath, kitchen and laundry room. It doubles as an art studio and provides an inspiring view of a eucalyptus grove. It’s a beautiful as the main house.

Project Details

  • Square Footage: 7,000 Main House; 1,200 ADU
  • Bedrooms: 3 Main House; 1 Adu
  • Bathrooms: 4.5 Main House; 1.5 ADU
  • Architect: Fred Lattanzio / Heidi Anderson Spicer
  • Designers: Owner & Contractor Designed
  • Project Duration: 12 Months


Sun Collection & Mitigation

The sun provides free energy all day long. Why not utilize it?

Solar Panels

The cost of solar panels continues to drop and programs from state and local agencies can make it possible to install them with little up-front expense. If you live in a sunny area, they can turn your building into an energy producer, repaying you the cost many times over.


Don’t cut costs by removing or reducing awnings. An awning, correctly sized for the sun exposure of your building, can reduce sunlight coming in during the summer, but allow it in during the winter, when you want it.

Passive Solar

Passive solar systems use windows, walls, and floors to collect, store, and distribute solar energy as heat in the winter and to reject it in the summer. It is called passive solar or climatic design because the systems don’t use mechanical and electrical devices.

Cool & Living Roofs

Cool roofs are rooftops that are painted light colors to increase the albedo (surface reflectivity) of the building. We have also built roofs from plywood covered with reflective radiant barrier sheathing to achieve this result. This prevents heat from penetrating into a building, keeping it cooler on hot days and reduces the cost of keeping it cool. A living roof, sometimes called a green roof, is a building roof that is partially or completely covered with plants. They absorb rain, provide insulation and help mitigate the Urban Heat Island Effect.

Commercial Heat Island Effect Mitigation

An Urban Heat Island (UHI) is defined as the rise in temperature of a man-made area resulting in a distinct warm area among the relatively cool area of the nearby natural landscape. The effect of UHI is an increase in overall energy use for cooling, which in turn, requires increased energy production by power plants creating heat-trapping greenhouse gasses and particulate matter pollution. In addition, UHI intensity peaks have been linked to heat-related illness and fatalities.

In commercial construction, there exists significant potential for large areas to collect both sun and water. Buildings are the biggest source of greenhouse gasses. Solar panel covered parking lots (solar gardens) and rooftop shade gardens, or living roofs, can reduce the Heat Island Effect of parking lots and buildings.


The potential performance of a new development is vast. A mindset that balances cost, time and aesthetics is essential.

Door Choices

Distance to public transportation, stores, restaurants and services affects the energy efficiency of a new development.

Insulate Wall Penetrations

Buildings that share resources, like apartments with ground level shops, require less use of resources.

The Building Envelope

Indoor air quality is a primary concern of modern builders. An efficiently functioning building has a tight envelope while providing controlled sources of fresh air. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification specifications guide us in all of our projects, regardless of certification goals.

Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation saves on energy costs. US Dept. of Energy studies indicate that 40% of a home's energy is lost as the result of air infiltration through walls, windows and doorways. Buildings treated with spray foam insulate as much as 50% better than traditional insulation products.

Spray foam also protects against moisture, which in turns reduces the chances of mold and mildew. In addition, it reduces noise, acting as a barrier preventing sound transfer through the walls, roof and floors.

Sealant Between Framing Gaps

Injecting sealant in the spaces between the framing reduces airflow, increasing a building’s efficiency.

Foundation To Sill Plate Insulation

Though it may seem impossible for there to be gaps due to a building’s weight, heat is easily lost between the sill plate and the foundation. Insulating these gaps will help keep your heating costs low and make your building more energy efficient.

Window Choices

Like any fenestration (exterior openings of a building), windows can be thermal holes. Up to 25% of heat loss in a typical home is through the windows. There are many choices in windows and we can help you pick the best ones for your project.

Door Choices

We’ve all felt a draft coming under a door. What we don’t usually feel is the heat moving through a door. An insulated energy efficient door has more than good seals around the edges.

Insulate Wall Penetrations

Whenever you put a hole in a wall, for plumbing, outlets, etc., you create an opportunity for energy loss.

The Foundation

We must get past the idea of digging a hole and putting a house over it. The foundation is the largest thermal mass in a building. This massive heat sink can be your friend.

Radiant Heat & Floors

A building with radiant heat floors is more cost-effective to heat than a forced-air system. With a forced-air system, heated air is pushed out of the structure—requiring more air to be heated. Radiant heat provides a very efficient method for maintaining a consistent temperature.

For those more visually-inclined: forced-air is as efficient as a hair dryer for keeping you warm, while radiant heat is like a good pepper—it goes down into the core and warms from the inside out.

Outside-In Warming vs. Inside-Out Warming

Building Orientation

The sun changes its position throughout the year. If you have the opportunity, careful study can allow you to place your building to take advantage of sun and shade.

Foundation Height

Ground moisture and poor water flow can cause wooden siding to rot. Having an elevated foundation can be beneficial during severe weather events.

Vapor Barrier Under Foundation

Moisture in your foundation can cause decay, termite problems and mold, which can migrate upward. A vapor barrier also helps insulate a home, improve heating and cooling performance and affect interior air quality.

Insulation Under Foundation

Remember that the foundation is a giant heat sink. An un-insulated foundation can result in a large heat loss from a house with an otherwise tight envelope.

Water Efficiency

Every aspect of water movement in and around the house is important. Efficient water management lowers your operating costs.

Water Catchment

Rainwater can be harvested for reuse before it seeps into the aquifer or runs off into the drainage system. Uses include water for gardens, greywater systems and more. One benefit is that, despite climate change forecasts, rain is 'renewable' at acceptable volumes. Water catchment systems generally have low operating costs, providing water at the point of consumption.

Water Recovery

Greywater is created by such activities as dishwashing, laundry and bathing. It can be recycled and used for landscape watering. Greywater use reduces demand on conventional water supplies and sewage treatment systems and reduces energy use and chemical pollution from treatment.

La Selva Gem

Every system in your building affects its performance.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps pull heat out of the air or ground to heat a building, but can be reversed to cool instead. A big bonus of a heat pump is that you only need one system for heating and cooling. Heat pumps are extremely efficient. They simply transfer heat, rather than using fuel to create it. This makes them a little more environmentally friendly than a gas-burning furnace.

LED Lighting

EnergyStar-qualified LEDs provide stable light output over their projected lifetime. They are compact and can be used singly or in an array. They give off light in a specific direction, making them more efficient than conventional bulbs that project light in all directions. LEDs have a lifespan of 25 – 45 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

Smart Environmental Systems

Systems that learn the occupant’s habits over time make a building run more efficiently without the guesswork of complex timing systems.

La Selva Gem

This modern beauty is the result of a construction project that went totally right. The owners are the sweetest people you ever want to meet. They are smart, savvy and have excellent communication skills. They shared their desires and trusted us to get the job done. The Tuscan inspired home sits on top of a […]