Spain in the SoCal sun

Times Staff Writer

Lilian RICE designed an estimated 30 houses in her career and about two-thirds of them are still standing in the upscale San Diego County community of Rancho Santa Fe.

This Spanish Colonial, built in 1928, exemplifies her indoor-outdoor approach to design.

Rice, one of the first women to become an architect in California, did most of her work in the 1920s, but it wasn’t all residential.


The graduate of UC Berkeley spent time in Spain studying small-town architecture so she could sketch ideas for the village center in Rancho Santa Fe. She was the on-site architect in charge of the four-block downtown area of the community, and she helped draft a master plan calling for construction of a civic center to be designed as a multi-use commercial and residential area. It was an early version of a mixed-use project.

After completing the central area, which included a school, Rice established her own architectural firm and offered women opportunities to work in drafting and design.

Her house designs took the sunny Southern California climate into account. They feature patios, pools, outdoor fireplaces, fountains and other features she saw during her time in Spain.

This house has an outdoor living room.

About the house: Rice was a stickler for detail and usually considered location in her designs. The main house, designed by Rice, has four bedrooms and 5 1/2 bathrooms. The detached guesthouse, added later, has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The estate, which also has a workout room and a home theater, sits on slightly more than 3 acres.

Asking price: $5,495,000

Size: There is a 4,400-square-foot main house and a 2,000-square-foot guesthouse.

Features: The house has citrus-grove views. The decor includes mahogany floors and ceilings, hand-painted tiles, custom-designed sconces and custom-painted murals and frescoes. There is a swimming pool and spa.

Where: This house was built in what is known as the Covenant or the original Rancho Santa Fe. The 6,200-acre community, renowned for its elegant rural living, has a private golf course and is 20 miles north of downtown San Diego and a few miles from the Pacific Ocean.

Listing agent: Kelly Pottorff at Willis Allen Real Estate, Rancho Santa Fe, (858) 756-0990, Ext. 136.

To submit a candidate for Home of the Week, send high-resolution color photos with caption and credit information on a CD and a detailed description of the house to Ruth Ryon, Real Estate Section, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., L.A., CA 90012. Questions may be sent to homeoftheweek