Story By Lisa McEwen Photos by Steve Cory



all is a favorite time of year for Pismo Beach residents Alan and Phyllis Borba. The Central Coast is a perfect spot for relaxing November days, when fog rolls in and out with abandon. The season is made even better when the couple is at home in their remodeled contemporary beach house just two blocks from Pismo State Beach. 

“It is a quieter time of year here, which we really love,” said Phyllis, who welcomed Lifestyle Magazine with a warm hug and bright smile, the same way she greets all the guests who cross the threshold of the black-and-white two-story home.

As many valley natives do, both Alan and Phyllis savor their time at the coast, a spot they’ve visited their entire lives when time and schedules would allow. College sweethearts from Fresno State and married for 45 years, they now relish the area nearly year-round in their modern home, purchased in 1998 and re-built in 2019. 

‘The Happy House’

Phyllis explained that in childhood, both she and Alan spent many summer days with their families at Pismo Beach. Later, they would bring their children, Chad and Gina, to Pismo Beach for family vacations. It offered a refreshing change of weather and scenery from the stifling summer heat in the San Joaquin Valley, where Alan worked in the family farming operation in Cutler. 

“This is home just as much as the valley,” Phyllis said, and she understands well why so many tourists flock to the city’s beaches each year. 

One day in 1998, the family was in town for the annual Pismo Portuguese Celebration when a tiny single-story, two-bedroom house on a corner lot caught the couple’s eye. It was for sale and they decided to put in an offer on the home. 

“It quickly became a family home, and we decided to call it ‘The Happy House,’” Phyllis explained. “The door was always open to family and friends.”

With the help of those same family members and friends, the home was slowly remodeled and updated. 

As their children married and the family grew, Alan and Phyllis decided to embark upon a complete remodel of the home to give them more living space and privacy from the busy frontage road. 

“We are thankful and blessed to be able to do this,” Phyllis said, emotion filling her voice and tears in her eyes. “We owe it all to God. It is above and beyond our expectations, and the best thing about it is that it is all about family.” 

This was accomplished with a fantastic team that made the entire process enjoyable: interior design help from Steven Patrick Designs, architectural drawing by Cory Goodwin Designs and building from Critzer Construction of Los Osos. 

Entering off the side street, guests are immediately enveloped in a calm environment of white walls and a cozy sitting room with a variety of bright red accents. Phyllis wanted something memorable and special from their ranch to anchor one wall in the family room. Alan thought of the metal siding from the roof of the family horse barn. Mounted on linen backing and framed by the same artist who framed all the artwork in the home, Phyllis had just the centerpiece she was looking for. 

Other family mementoes in this space include a newspaper clipping mentioning several businesses that the family owned in Monterey. 

Large, 11×14 framed photographs of their children playing on the sands of Pismo Beach line the hallway, and photos of their three grandchildren doing the same are quickly being added. 

“This whole downstairs is so meaningful,” Phyllis said. “It is all about family.”

Construction of the home took 16 months, and Phyllis, who rented an adjacent apartment during that time to keep an eye on the project, shared a touching moment from that phase.

“I was looking at the framing in one of the bedrooms and noticed the initials ‘H.D.,’” she said. “My dad signed everything ‘H.D.’ so I asked our contractor what that meant, and he replied ‘hold down.’ Even though that was a construction term, I took it as a sign that my dad was watching and approved of our plans.”

In an elegant yet family-friendly style, three bedrooms and two bathrooms fill the bottom level, offering privacy and plenty of space for their children and grandchildren. The kids’ room features four custom-built bunk beds, and one can imagine how much fun the littles have in here! A door leads to the two-car garage. (Keep reading to find out more on that later.)

To gain access upstairs, guests can take a flight of stairs or the elevator, which is handy for unloading groceries and transporting suitcases to the car. 

“The overall design and ambience of the home came about because of the couple’s commitment to family.”

Top-level entertaining

The focus of the second story is twofold: entertaining and soaking in the stunning views of the fog-shrouded foothills and beach.

Floor-to-ceiling retractable glass doors on either side of the home invite guests to linger on the wrap-around patio as well as provide refreshing breezes through the entire second story. When closed, they totally block out the street noise and traffic from busy downtown Pismo. 

This level of the home combines elegant form and function. Back-lit onyx attracts the eye and creates a stunning wine bar backdrop. A circular table for eight, topped with a contemporary glass chandelier, plays host to many family meals and allows seated diners to look out into the neighborhood and even down the street toward the beach. 

But what’s most important in the kitchen is a feature that many homeowners take for granted: a pantry. 

“I finally got a pantry!” Phyllis said, laughing, as she stepped into the room just off the kitchen. She explained that their Cutler home — at 150 years old — did not have a pantry (or garage) so she is ecstatic to finally store food and kitchen essentials as she’s always wanted. (She is also thrilled to park her car in a garage!)

The kitchen also was designed with Phyllis’ stature in mind — at just 4 feet, 10.5 inches tall. Cabinets, drawers, spice racks and knife blocks are installed for easy access at eye level or below. No more standing on tippy-toes or ladders for this homeowner. 

Family at center

The overall design and ambience of the home came about because of the couple’s commitment to family.

“I attribute a lot of it to me and my husband,” Phyllis said. “We are family-oriented and love to help others. We are so blessed to be here.”