SLO Mid Century House Tour

Mid Century House Fireplace Sunken Conversation Pit San Luis Obispo Wes WardHi! We’ve had some busy weeks around here with visitors, birthdays, and end of the school year madness, so today I’m just popping in briefly today to share a local home that I recently had the privilege of touring in San Luis Obispo. I came across this place a few years ago on Airbnb and have been wanting to see it in person since. I can’t deal with sunken conversation pits just miles away, but out of the reach of my grimy, fireplace loving hands. I thought I may have to pull out a staycation as an excuse to gawk. Instead, I was so happy to see the home featured on this year’s AIA California Central Coast’s home tour. San Luis Obispo isn’t exactly known as a hot spot for mid century architecture – the architecture of our Mission seems to garner more respect – but we have some incredible gems tucked throughout our town, most of which usually trace back to Cal Poly’s architecture department in one way or another.

*My photos are bad, even by cell phone photo standards, so please go check out professional photos here or the Airbnb listing here! I almost didn’t post because of the terrible quality, but this house is too good not to share. This particular house was built by Wes Ward, a Cal Poly architecture professor, for his young family in the late 50’s/early 60’s . I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love to see the homes that architects design for themselves. This personal residence didn’t disappoint. The exterior is simple and beautiful but doesn’t hint at the private, warm, light filled retreat inside. (Coincidentally, I’ve driven by numerous times and wondered out loud what this place looks like inside, never putting two and two together.) The house features extensive amounts of wood inside and out. The walls and ceiling are redwood and most of the flooring a nearly identical shade of cork. The interior is spacious, open and thoughtful, but also to-the-point and quite utilitarian – an example: a span of bedrooms along the top floor are separated by partitions, allowing for flexibility of use.

The house literally centers around a show-stopping two-story fireplace, spreading out in a grid around it. On the bottom floor, the fireplace floats above a sunken conversation pit (!!!). The hefty chimney pierces the ceiling above, providing warmth to the second story and leaving a peek-a-boo view to the pit below from the 2nd floor landing.Mid Century House Fireplace Sunken Conversation Pit San Luis Obispo Wes WardThat upstairs/downstairs flow continues in the wall of floor to ceiling shutters in the master bedroom that open to the story below…definitely not great with toddlers roaming in the house, but quite striking otherwise! Today they bottom halves are permanently fastened shut for safety purposes, but I could definitely see “throwing open the shutters to reveal the scary holes in the wall” as an invigorating way to start the day! I love it! What fun!Maybe it’s the backyard redwoods combined with the floor to ceiling interior redwood, but this house certainly gives off that mid century Big Sur (our Central Coast neighbor to the north) vibe: warm, organic, relaxed, rustic, and modern. It is simply a beautiful space.

Ward’s daughters still own the house and welcome vacation rental visitors. Again, my crappy cell phone photos don’t do this house justice so I encourage you to check out the Airbnb listing and/or these professional photographs for a more accurate look at the house! Or better yet, come stay! The peaceful redwood-shaded creek in the backyard alone is all you need for a relaxing vacation. OH MY! See you next time…


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