A Contemporary Laguna Beach Home with European-Inspired Décor


Mediterranean Cream Front Exterior Landscape

The striking sun-bleached blue front doors were thoughtfully retained.

Contemporary Cream Venetian Plaster Entry

The entry’s reclaimed ceiling beams and door—with its striking sun-bleached blue color—were thoughtfully retained. A vintage Chinese bench from Juxtaposition Home anchors the space, and the alabaster pendant is an antique. Venetian plaster walls provide a luxurious backdrop.

Contemporary Cream Living Room with Exposed Beams

Designer Wendi Young kept the palette muted in the living room of a Laguna Beach home. A sofa and coffee table, both from Restoration Hardware, join an antique rug from Nalbandian, while rock crystal chandeliers by Dennis & Leen hover above.

Contemporary Cream Casual Dining Area

French oak floors bring a rustic element to the living room's casual dining area.

Contemporary Cream Kitchen Fireplace

A fireplace warms the kitchen, which features a center island capped with a Petit Granite limestone countertop. The sink is by Kohler, and the barstools were found by the homeowner.

Contemporary Aqua Kitchen Range

An existing La Cornue range and hood were kept in their original aqua color.

Cream Contemporary Reclaimed Wood Breakfast Area

Leather chairs and a sturdy table with a metal base and reclaimed-wood top, both from Restoration Hardware, balance an antique French chandelier in the breakfast area. Young refinished the existing cabinet, which has seeded-glass panels, and added J. Nicolas hardware.

Contemporary Cream Family Room

In the family room, a custom sectional wrapped with a Perennials outdoor chenille from David Sutherland is paired with a coffee table from Juxtaposition Home. A West Elm rug lends dimension to the space; the mixed-media piece is from Bassman Blaine.

Contemporary Neutral Office with Wood Paneling

A Crate & Barrel chair pairs with a Restoration Hardware desk in the study, which is marked by striking wall and ceiling paneling. A brass-and-bronze chandelier hangs above a globe from Juxtaposition Home; the muted drapery fabric is from Restoration Hardware.

Contemporary Cream Master Bedroom

Charcoal-hued suede cloaks the master bedroom’s custom bed—dressed with linens from Blue Springs Home—by Wendi Young Design. A bench wears a Jab Anstoetz fabric from Thomas Lavin at Blake House, and the gray weathered-wood lamps are by Arteriors.

Contemporary Cream Master Bath Window

In the master bath, draperies made with Restoration Hardware fabric frame a window, which floods the room with natural light. An antique wooden stool plays off the room’s crystal chandelier. Young kept the existing tub and fittings, as well as the room’s opulent marble.

When a young homeowner first laid eyes on her house in Laguna Beach, it wasn’t love at first sight. Situated near the water, the house was originally built in a very formal French style. Although she didn’t respond to that aesthetic, her designer, Wendi Young, could see its potential. “It was painted with very dark colors, had heavy drapery and a lot of gold leafing,” recalls Young, who had designed many houses for the owner’s family in the course of 15 years. “I thought if we stripped away the decoration and treated it with a more contemporary eye, that it could be a really charming house.”

Young convinced the homeowner and began the transformation. To start, she left some elements—such as the French oak floors, which had taken on a unique patina, and the authentic reclaimed ceiling beams—exactly as they were. “We were going to give the beams a light gray wash, but it became apparent that nothing was necessary,” Young says. “They have an almost driftwood quality. While we were trying to make the house feel more contemporary, I still wanted to ensure that you felt like you were at the beach, and that it didn’t have an odd juxtaposition of location and architecture.”

Stonework throughout the home and four antique fireplaces were also saved. Young refinished the steel windows and doors and even incorporated the existing plumbing fixtures and the entry’s antique alabaster pendant, which she cleaned up and simplified. “A lot of it was refurbishing,” Young says, crediting builder Michael Roberts for the meticulous execution of refreshing elements such as cabinetry, door hardware and Venetian plaster. “Mike is very good at maintaining the character of antique materials. He doesn’t try to make it new; he just gives it new life.” Roberts’ thoughtful refurbishments—which even extended to outdoor fountains and fireplaces—lent an atmosphere of authenticity. “Our goal was to bring pieces back to their original state,” he says. “The house has sophistication, yet also the cozy feeling of a French country home.”

Though the house’s architecture is decidedly French country in style, Young wanted to create interiors with a clean contemporary twist. She chose the same Restoration Hardware drapery fabric throughout to create cohesion, and she placed crisp linen slipcovered chairs in the dining room. “The proportions of that room make it feel magical,” Young says of the space crowned with a rock crystal chandelier. Given the generous volumes of the rooms, the scale of the furnishings became important, as did imparting a livable feel. “The house is filled with substantial pieces,” Young says. “But someone can still walk in, kick off their shoes and just hang out.”

To find that balance, the designer worked with a blend of new pieces and a few antiques. Young brought in sturdy leather-covered chairs to mix with the breakfast area’s existing French chandelier, while an antique rug grounds an elm table in the living room. “I love the juxtaposition that can be found throughout the home: masculine and feminine, delicate and solid, heavy and light,” says Young, who played off those opposites within a calming neutral palette. “Although my client has a very colorful personality, the muted palette just suited the architecture,” says the designer. “It supports rather than embellishes it.” In addition, quiet paint colors, mainly from Farrow & Ball—as “their coloration and palette were perfect for this house,” says Young—abound on the walls, cabinetry and paneling to lend a soft richness. While the authentic materials and architectural elements are standout features, she adds, “It is the simplicity of the furnishings and the muted colors that create the supporting cast.”

The home came together just as Young envisioned. “There’s something so special in this house,” she says. “I love the contrast of high-style items, like the living room’s rock crystal chandeliers, with rustic organic materials like the floors and ceiling beams; I love the mix of old and new. It’s such a simple yet complex home.”

—Brittany Kaplan-McGuire