Accomplished architectural designer, musician finds time for philanthropic endeavors

By Diane Y. Welch

RSF’s Tim Holcombe is often referred to as a modern day Renaissance Man. “I have to agree with this description,” said his wife, Cheryl. “He is knowledgeable and talented in so many different areas.”

Holcombe is the lead architectural designer of Rancho Santa Fe’s Holcombe Homes, a corporation he co-owns with Cheryl, who is in charge of operations. In addition, he composes songs, plays guitar and performs at local charity events and private parties, paints in water colors, and creates gourmet meals for family and friends.

While his main occupation is the custom design of California-style estate homes, Holcombe’s heart and soul belongs to music. This year Holcombe plans to release a CD of original songs showcasing his band “The Border Limits.” Later in the year he will release a Christmas CDs that will feature Holiday classics and his original compositions.

Each Sunday Holcombe performs with the worship team at the Church of the Hills in San Elijo Hills. “He gives a lot back,” said Cheryl. Many of his performances are for charity benefits. Holcombe said that he would love to stage a benefit performance to help raise funds for the R. Roger Rowe School’s Performing Arts Center.

The Holcombe family moved permanently to Rancho Santa Fe in 1969 when Tim was 7. He attended the school so it holds a special place in his history, he said. When the school presented “Fiddler on the Roof” Holcombe played the lead of Tevye. Then age 13, he stood 6 feet. tall. There was an article in the paper the next day that applauded the outstanding show but questioned why a professional was hired to play the lead, such was the caliber of Holcombe’s stage presence and musical ability.

This performance, however, sparked Holcombe’s passion for music and when his dad gave him a guitar it also marked a lifelong love to both play and compose songs. As an inventive 14 year old he figured out how to play his guitar through the speakers of his dad’s stereo system.

“I had a mic stuck inside my guitar and played Neil Diamond and John Denver records over and over. I’d play along with them learning the chords and lyrics as I went along,” recalled Holcombe who later went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Northern Arizona University.

As an undergraduate Holcombe said that his favorite field of study was Cheryl who was a business major. “The first time I saw her she was wearing a maroon leotard, having just returned from the gym.” He told his roommate, “I’m going to marry that girl!” Today the Holcombes are still married and have raised two daughters, Christine and Kimberly, now young adults.

Holcombe grew up in the building business. His parents – Bob and Donna Holcombe –started designing and building houses in the early 1970s when Tim was a small child. At age 5, he assisted in the remodel of their Solana Beach home. “I helped my dad paint the room. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that you don’t paint the floors and I painted the carpeting! My mom never let me forget that!” he joked.

When he was a teenager Holcombe helped make adobe bricks for an estate home that his parents were designing with the help of Larry Weir. That home still stands on La Gracia in Rancho Santa Fe. As a young adult Holcombe started his own business building in-home theaters and commercial theaters. A memorable project was the relocation and remodel of a Montana-based 1905 schoolhouse complete with its original bell tower. Holcombe was able to salvage the historic structure and transform it into a modern-day movie theater.

More recent projects include a custom-built estate home on El Vuelo del Este and one in the construction phase on El Montevideo, with three others in the planning stage. Holcombe’s custom homes reflect a traditional early-Californian style and often mirror Lilian Rice’s design sensibilities of simple but elegant design with master craftsmanship throughout. He also incorporates influences from Mexico, North Africa, and the American Southwest.

Over the years Holcombe Homes has been honored with many awards, including the Rancho Santa Fe Association’s Lily Award for design excellence in 1998, 2004 and 2007. Tim and Cheryl also love to give back to the community. In 2004 Holcombe Homes donated its design services for Rancho Santa Fe’s bus stop shelters and participated on the design committee for the remodeling of the R. Roger Rowe Elementary School.

As a musician, Tim Holcombe has donated his time and talent to the Rancho Santa Fe Cub Scouts, playing at the last two year-end events, and also donated his band’s services and a gate at last year’s silent auction at the Rumble in the Ranch poker tournament that benefitted the Ranch Santa Fe Senior Center.

“Tim is such a wonderful Ranch Santa Fe resident and businessman,” said Maria Delgado, board member for the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center.

To find out more about Tim Holcombe’s musical endeavors, visit

To learn more about Holcombe Homes visit