A 1960s Abode Gets A Glamorous Redo in Corona Del Mar


Playing House in Corona del Mar

For a young Corona del Mar family's abode, a melding of the stylish and the practical strikes just the right balance.

Geometric Light Chandelier Entryway with Staircase and Side Plant

For the foyer of a Corona del Mar home recently renovated by architect Christian R. Light, designer Brooke Wagner sourced furnishings that kept the atmosphere light and bright, including the Visual Comfort & Co. chandelier crowning the space. Completing the arrival moment are a Lawson-Fenning console, an Arteriors mirror and a lamp from Bliss Home & Design. The Rosemary Hallgarten rug is from Thomas Lavin; the stair runner is from Stark.

Reclaimed Wood Vaulted Ceiling Living Room with TV Over Fireplace and Neutral Couch

Wagner opted for sophisticated but comfortable pieces in the great room. The custom Barclay Butera sectional is upholstered in a Casamance fabric and joins a Barbara Barry coffee table from Baker and a Lee Industries armchair from Gatehouse. The console lamps are from Made Goods, and the table lamp is by Visual Comfort & Co. Overhead lighting comes from the Ralph Lauren Home chandelier.

Open Flow Kitchen and Dining Table with White Siding Ceiling with Herringbone Backsplash

The countertops and backsplash tile from Rock Mill Tile & Stone set the soft palette of the eat-in kitchen. Ralph Lauren Home pendants hover above the island, which is painted a Farrow & Ball gray. Wagner custom-designed the counter and dining chairs, which she upholstered in Bastideaux fabrics from Nicky Rising. The table is from Made Goods.

All White Kitchen Cabinets with Double Ovens and Shiny Hardware

Pirch supplied the Wolf oven and microwave and Waterstone faucet in the kitchen. Throughout the ground floor, Wagner used European oak flooring from Warren Christopher.

Spherical Rose Gold Chandelier Dining Room with Grayscale Color Palette and Curtains

The formal dining room sparkles with an Aerin chandelier and features a custom extendable table, surrounded by chairs in a Romo fabric from Thomas Lavin. On the Barbara Barry console from Baker are Arteriors lamps from Bassman Blaine; above is a work by Lorraine Pennington. The Casamance drapery fabric is from Stark and pairs with a Villa Nova sheer from Thomas Lavin. A carpet from J.D. Staron anchors the space.

Coffered Ceiling Bedroom with Pink Pillows and Patterned Comforter

Dreamy hues define the master bedroom, exemplified by the Rosemary Hallgarten fabrics sourced from Thomas Lavin for the draperies, Roman shades and custom-designed bench. Wagner found the Elizabeth Dow wallpaper at Jasper, and the bed is from Cisco.

Peach Master Bathroom with Octogonal Mirror and Sleek Hardware

In the master bathroom, Wagner paired a Kallista faucet with a Kohler sink, both from Pirch, and used stone from Famosa for the countertop and tub surround. The Aerin sconces illuminate the space, which is covered in a de Gournay wallpaper from Nicky Rising.

L Shaped Pool Backyard Exterior with Wooden Lounge Chairs Loggia

Near the pool by Contemporary Pools and Spas, the designer placed lounge chairs and armchairs from Teak Warehouse, topping them respectively with pillows in Lavinder and Rosemary Hallgarten fabrics; the tables are from Hart Concrete Design. On the loggia is a Link Outdoor dining set from Thomas Lavin. Builders Don McKeehan and Dick McKeehan oversaw the installation of the Fleetwood windows from Window Concepts. Landscape contractors Patrick Curran and Kelly Curran updated the grounds.

This one was a little out of the box for us,” designer Brooke Wagner says of a Corona del Mar residence she recently completed. “It’s more formal than most of the coastal houses we do.” That only tells part of the story, because not only did Wagner’s client task her with creating a stylish abode, but she also asked for something else—for Wagner to create a dream home that took into consideration her young twins. 

Built in 1969 and positioned on a quiet cul-de-sac, the house had an unusually large backyard for the area, which sold the owner on the property. “I chose this lot versus an ocean view because there’s room to ride bikes, swim and play,” she says. Though the lot might have been top-notch, the existing home was anything but, so she turned to architect Christian R. Light and builders and brothers Don McKeehan and Dick McKeehan to give the place an extensive overhaul, turning something dated into a contemporary home that respected the neighborhood’s scale while satisfying the owner’s needs. 

“She requested crisp, clean spaces,” Light says. “The existing plan was dark and uninviting.” Taking the house down to the studs allowed the architect to maintain the footprint while reorganizing rooms for “flow, natural light and casual comfortable living.” Adds Don McKeehan, “It’s always a challenge to create clean lines and details within the confines of an older existing structure.” Light also oriented rooms to take better advantage of the outdoor spaces, including a loggia, pool, entertaining pavilion and playhouse, so the living and dining rooms became the great room, the kitchen became the dining room, and the family room became the kitchen and nook. 

Inside, the client, who had taken on the interior design of her previous home herself, was equally clear on her desires. “She wanted fancy,” Wagner says. (“They all called me ‘Fancy Pants,’” adds the homeowner, laughing.) Moreover, besides asking Wagner to lead the charge on the interiors, the designer was also tasked with collaborating with the McKeehans and landscape contractors and brothers Patrick Curran and Kelly Curran on the exterior finishes as well. Along with her project manager Britta Doostmard, Wagner worked with the builders to source vintage beams, stone veneers and wood paneling. “Doing this project soup to nuts brought a more cohesive feel,” Wagner says. “We could see it all coming together—all the way down to the micro-accessorizing.” 

Regardless of the project, the designer begins the same way. “We generally start a project with rugs, and we found a few great ones early on that she fell in love with,” Wagner says. “Then we built up the living and dining room textiles; then came light fixtures, floors and ceilings.” The interiors exude luxurious touches—“She let us mix metals, which we really liked,” says Wagner, pointing to the powder room’s nickel faucet and brass mirror and the kitchen’s polished- nickel plumbing fixtures that play off the black-bronze light fixtures. But she kept the client’s family in mind, upholstering the kitchen barstools in laminated linen and the playroom sofas in indoor-outdoor fabric and crafting a bathroom for the playroom. “The twins are boy and girl, so she wanted things to be cute and playful but gender-neutral,” the designer says. 

Bringing very few items from her previous home (only silver-leaf nightstands that belonged to her mother and framed butterfly artworks) kept the owner’s focus on making a fresh start. “She loved the Rosemary Hallgarten stripe we chose for the master bedroom’s drapery,” says Wagner. Another new find was the Barbara Barry buffet in the dining room. “It was one of the first things the homeowner had to have,” she says. “The J.D. Staron rug in the living room was another.” 

Outside, the fine balance between practicality and style also comes through. “We added to the existing ficus trees to create privacy and create the clean lines,” Kelly Curran says. “The pool shape was changed to contemporize the lines, too.” Nearby, a new pavilion houses a barbecue, replace and television, making it a perfect hangout for guests. At the front of the house, planters now encircle two established melaleuca trees and double as seating so that the client can watch the children play out front. 

Referred by the homeowner’s sister, Wagner and her client hit it off immediately, and the warm working relationship is reflected in the finished product that took two years to complete. “She could really visualize things,” Wagner says. Adds her client, “I really liked the home- renovation process—it’s been amazing. It’s the new family home that I wanted, and I’m really happy here.” 

Maile Pingel