A Laguna Beach Residence With Ocean-Inspired Interiors


Set on an oceanfront bluff with sweeping panoramas of the Pacific, a coastal residence within the Montage Laguna Beach resort is a source of endless serenity for its homeowners. “It’s an uncluttered community, void of gimmicks,” says interior designer Barclay Butera. Known for his classic beach style—comfortable yet glamorous with a West Coast twist—Butera put his mantra to work here, but with a subtle touch. “Family was the focus and understated luxury was the main theme,” he says.

To accommodate family and friends, the owners desired voluminous spaces suitable for entertaining inside and out. “The husband likes a more Craftsman aesthetic,” says architect Christian R. Light, who, with builder Jim Birmingham, has worked on many homes in Montage. The Craftsman style melds perfectly with the community’s vernacular, but Light also wanted to, as he says, “contemporize the style,” which he accomplished with his pared-down version of battered walls, stacked stone and shingled siding.

Whether viewed from the street or from its ocean side, the home tricks the eye. What appears as a one-story residence is actually a spacious two-level structure. “It has a serious ‘wow’ factor,” Birmingham says. “You don’t realize its sheer size at first.” Light achieved this effect by winding a stairway from the entry on the main level to a light-filled courtyard and lower-level family room.

Inside the home, walls crafted from rusticated limestone complement columned arches framing the cabinetry. All of the molding, trim and baseboards are sleeker, more streamlined versions of their traditional counterparts. “Simplifying doesn’t mean eliminating,” explains Light, who worked with his colleague, Jodie Smith, and designer Melinda Grubbs, a frequent collaborator, on the interior architectural detailing.

The interior’s crisp white millwork sets an inviting tone for Butera’s casual yet refined design. Drawing inspiration from the ocean setting, Butera set out to create “fresh, beach-chic” interiors. To that end, he brought in new and custom-designed pieces from his own furniture line, Barclay Butera Home, and mixed plump upholstered seating with wicker and wood furnishings. “We wanted to keep the materials natural and organic in feel,” he says.

Proportion also played a significant role in Butera’s design. In the main great room, Butera gave the space functional versatility by creating two conversation groups: one that is centered on a plush sofa upholstered in creamy fabric and another that features four low-slung Ralph Lauren Home wicker chairs. A whimsical sailboat model perched atop a console offers a visual separation between the spaces, which the designer finished out with coral, shells and other sea-inspired accessories. In the lower-level family room, Butera provided flexible seating options via two sprawling L-shaped sofas, and he appointed the outdoor spaces with several comfortable lounge areas to encourage group entertaining.

When it came to fabrics, Butera opted for natural textiles in serene hues. “We used very little pattern, and if we did, it was faint and washy, nothing bold or jarring,” he says. Throughout, an ocean-inspired palette of white, sea glass blue and sandy beige tones washes over the home. Shades of indigo pepper the main spaces, upholstering high-back dining chairs and armchairs in the great room, in keeping with the nautical undercurrent.

Accent pillows in a similar rich hue continue the palette outside, where bromeliads and Rhapis palms mingle with fragrant lavender and orange- flowering aloes. “The owners wanted native succulents, lush tropical plants and lots of color,” says landscape architect Michael Dilley of the plantings he put in around the entry, courtyard, side, and rear of the home.

Steps down from the patio, a meandering path winds its way to the beach. “One only has to take a short walk along the shoreline,” says Butera, “to understand the role the ocean and soft sands of Laguna Beach played in the inspiration of this incredible home.”