Santa Lucia Estate

The Santa Lucia Estate is located on a private reserve in Upper Carmel Valley situated on a gentle grassland ridge with dramatic views of the surrounding valleys and coastal range.  The house is not immediately visible and is approached from below by a winding drive and the initial view of the house is revealed through a masonry gateway surrounded by curvilinear walls made from local stone that enclose a protected forecourt.

The forms of the house are expressed in two materials, stucco and dry stack stone veneer to differentiate the elements, to reflect the vernacular of the Monterey regional style, and to give the house the appearance of having various elements that have been added over time.  

The entry façade and the arched arcade of the entry court are symmetrical, and that formality gives way to asymmetrical enclosing wings. The building elements are placed to reflect both the Owner’s program and to fit in the topography of the site. A dominant gabled roof centers the composition of the front façade and creates space and light for the Entry Foyer and to the Dining and Living areas that open to the views on the opposite side. The Garage is located on the right of the forecourt, and the three arched openings reiterate the arches of the French doors in the main arcade. This wing contains a second story floor and traditional decorative timber balcony with views of the surrounding landscape. The main hallway that runs the length of the house is located at the entry court, forming and enfilade from which the formal living spaces and outdoor terraces are located on the opposite southeast side. The placement of these rooms allows a transition from indoor to outdoor terraces that takes advantage of protection from the prevailing wind, provides optimal solar exposure, and orients the living spaces toward the dramatic view corridor down the Potrero Valley. 

Two roof towers at either end of the longitudinal ridge anchor the building and provide space, focal point and daylight to the interior. A stone Caretaker’s Cottage is located down slope from the main residence. 

Location: Upper Carmel Valley

Highlights: Monterey regional style residence in a natural preserve designed to blend in with the environment

Partner: Christiaan Maarse, Architect

Landscape Design:  Arterra

Photographs by: David Wakely 

Bilquis Ayar


Bilquis Ayar is an Architecturally trained designer specializing in custom homes with experience in commercial office buildings. She has practiced as a designer and design manager for projects ranging from residential bathroom renovations to 30,000 sq.ft. commercial office TIs. Bilquis graduated from the University of California Berkeley with a degree in Architecture. She has also worked in Real Estate for over 10 years and holds a California Real Estate Agent License. Bilquis is intrigued by tiny homes and compartmental living solutions. She enjoys trying new restaurants and new cuisines and is a big sports fan and a loyal follower of the SF 49ers and the SF Giants. Her favorite activity is relaxing at home with a cup of tea and watching a show or reading a good book.

Thayer Hopkins


Thayer Hopkins is an architect and designer with over 40 years of experience in architecture, interiors, and furniture design. Thayer is a 5th generation San Franciscan who graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with degrees in Architecture and Fine Arts. 


Thayer has expertise in climate-responsive sustainable regional architecture and has completed hundreds residential projects, mostly located in the Bay Area. The practice also includes buildings for corporate, professional, commercial, office, retail and educational clients.  His award-winning furniture designs are seen in many showrooms and publications, and have been selected for hotels, resorts, residences and cruise ships. Additionally, his creativity has led to designs for theater and opera sets, interior spaces on an aircraft carrier, exhibit design and graphic identity projects.


Thayer has been a long-time volunteer and has offered his time and skills as lifelong Trustee & Chair of Cathedral School for Boys Buildings & Grounds Committee and liaison with Grace Cathedral, member of the Rhode Island School of Design Architectural Advisory Council, Director and Treasurer of the San Francisco Architectural Club, President of the Alumni Council and member of the Board of Town School for Boys, Director of the Board and member of the Committee for the Renovation of the California Tennis Club.

Tiffany Stakem

Senior Associate

As the daughter of a contractor from small-town Pennsylvania, Tiffany was exposed at an early age to construction sites and developed an affinity for fine details and home design. After graduating from Pratt Institute in New York with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture, with its own custom cabinet shop, and then apprenticed for eight years under an architect specializing in custom residential design. Tiffany’s untiring dedication and adventurous spirit brought her to San Francisco for a project in 2008. Tiffany absolutely loves what she does, and it shows. When not working, she enjoys escaping the city; camping, backpacking, rock climbing, paddling, diving in remote undersea landscapes, or rappelling through the canyons of Southern Utah.​

Ellen Rothstein

Marketing & Client Relations

Ellen Rothstein has been an exhibiting artist, a color consultant and has studied interior design. She applied her training and artistic vision to the field of advertising, collaborating with creative teams and managing clients. This experience segued perfectly to becoming a project manager and client services & marketing manager on the client side. Additionally, Ellen is a certified Life Transition Coach and author.

Ellen has leveraged the breadth of her experience to be a management & marketing consultant for Thayer Hopkins Architects, bringing the sum of her art background, acquired business acumen and understanding of human interaction to the benefit of the practice. Ellen received her B.A. Practice of Art, from U.C. Berkeley. She studied Interior Design in the Certificate Program at U.C. Berkeley Extension, and is CAA Certified International Life Coach. See Ellen’s designs @

Rosemary Brito


Rosemary Brito started her career as an Architect in Brazil after receiving her degree in a five year in Architecture and Urban Design program from the Pontifical Catholic University of Goias. After graduating she worked in Brazil designing and supervising large scale projects. Rosemary moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1991 and worked on the design and project management of residential high-end projects. The scope of her work includes a diverse portfolio ranging from residences, offices, retail and restaurants, custom furniture design to yacht refits, both locally and internationally. Rosemary brings a personal approach to her work and experience as a homeowner, landlord and property investor. Rosemary is a keen listener with attention to detail and an eye for quality. She brings her international experience to any project, with a focus on her clients’ objectives, transforming thoughts into reality. She enjoys a collaborative teamwork approach with clients, colleagues and builders and is passionate about her work. She supports academic programs and has volunteered her time for high schools in Marin County, where she resides with her husband and two sons.