A Traditional Irvine Abode with Authentic Rustic-French Style


Traditional Neutral Rear Elevation with Entertainment Courtyard

The entertainment courtyard, created by landscape architect Greg Grisamore, boasts an outdoor fireplace and seating area with plenty of room for large parties, allowing guests to meander across a geometric arrangement of stones set in the lawn. When not in use, the space reads as more garden-like, with the grass tempering the hardscape.

Traditional Neutral Front Entry with Custom Iron Door

Architect Carlos Elenes drew on country French architecture for this Irvine abode. A custom door from Austrian Handcrafted Iron leads to the home, which has interiors designed by Carolyne Ferguson. Lanterns from Bevolo Gas and Electric Lights welcome visitors.

Traditional Cream Hall with Curved Ceiling

A French-style enfilade leads to a stairway. J. Nicolas Architectural Imported Hardware supplied the lanterns and fabricated additional sconces to match existing pieces from the owners’ collection. Lime plaster by Palmer Masonry of Costa Mesa faces the walls, and antique Dalle de Bourgogne limestone from Exquisite Surfaces covers the floors.

Traditional Cream Family Room with Fabric-Covered Tables

In the family room, linen RH sofas bookend two fabric-covered coffee tables, creating an intimate seating arrangement around the antique fireplace. The Chambord smoked- wood plank flooring is from Exquisite Surfaces. Nearby, a pair of rattan chairs from Gardenology provides a cozy seating area in the sun room.

Traditional Cream Great Room with Antique Fireplace

Sconces from Paul Ferrante flank an antique fireplace from Exquisite Surfaces, adding a focal point to the great room. The couple’s granddog, Koda, stands by a custom bench in Pindler fabric.

Traditional Cream Great Room with French Settee

Lee Industries sofas from Witford—covered in Rodolph fabric—and coffee tables from Wisteria create a stylish seating area. The settee and chandeliers are from Gardenology.

Traditional Cream Kitchen with Antique Fireback

Carolyne Ferguson enlisted designer and friend Marilynn B. Gilbert for the kitchen cabinetry’s design, which was fabricated by Woodsman’s Cabinetry. Two separate islands topped with honed Carrara marble from Marbleworks provide easy access to the La Cornue CornuFé stainless-steel range from Renwes Sales. The antique fireback is from Jan de Luz in Carmel Valley, California.

Traditional Neutral Covered Outdoor Dining Room with Exposed Wood Beams

Through custom doors from Millworks Etc. a covered terrace off the family room makes for a sheltered outdoor dining area furnished with the clients’ own table and RH chairs. Lanterns from J. Nicolas Architectural Imported Hardware hang from beams from Vintage Timberworks.

Traditional Neutral Courtyard with Great Room Access

Landscape designer Greg Grisamore conceived a series of distinctive outdoor rooms around the property, including a courtyard off the great room. Bemus Landscape was responsible for the landscape installation. The antique roof tiles are from Exquisite Surfaces.

Traditional Neutral Outdoor Seating Area with Courtyard Views

A cozy seating arrangement overlooks the courtyard, with pavers from Orange County Stone lining its perimeter. Rattan chairs and an unusual wire-grid coffee table—both from RJ Imports— join a settee from the owners’ collection to complete the scene.

Traditional White Hallway with Barrel Ceiling

Carolyne Ferguson placed a settee and desk from her clients’ own collection in a hallway. A pair of doors imported from France separates the barrel-ceilinged space. The lanterns are from J. Nicolas Architectural Imported Hardware.

Traditional Cream Bedroom with Iron Gate Headboard

In the master bedroom, an antique iron gate became a fanciful headboard, while a chaise from RH is positioned near interior bifold wood shutters, a collaborative effort between Carolyne Ferguson Design and Gilbert. The chandeliers and bedside lamps are by Aidan Gray Home.

Traditional Neutral Courtyard Fountain with Oilve Trees

Grisamore framed a linear fountain with Swan Hill fruitless olive trees, boxwood hedges and French lavender in a courtyard paved with stones from Island Stone to heighten the Provence-like feel of the property.

Traditional Neutral Hilltop Home with Numerous Courtyards

The expansive hilltop location meant the home’s architecture could be layered for a dramatic effect. Elenes planned a number of courtyard spaces in order to draw as much natural light into the residence as possible while still maintaining a feeling of rustic solitude and privacy.

Perched on an Irvine hilltop, a rare park-like property had designer Carolyne Ferguson’s clients falling hard. At just over an acre, the expansive spot offered the couple a chance to build a house that was at once supremely private yet open to the surrounding views. “I could see this house in my mind,” says the wife, who envisioned a simple and elegant but unpretentious family retreat where grandchildren and dogs could roam comfortably. To realize her dream home, she turned to Ferguson, a friend of nearly 30 years. “I know what she likes and I think that comes from being very good friends,” says the designer. “We’re on the same page, and I know her sense of style; she would be most comfortable in a house with a cottage-like feel.”

Working with friends can be dicey, but in this case the decades-long friendship turned out to be a recipe for success. The couple and the team—Ferguson, architect Carlos Elenes, builder Robert Ferguson (Carolyne Ferguson’s husband) and landscape designer Greg Grisamore—met frequently to collaborate on the project and create a unified vision for the home. “We knew exactly where everything was going to go right from the beginning,” says Carolyne Ferguson. So the team faced the challenge of designing a 15,000-square-foot home that also managed to feel intimate and comfortable.

Elenes took advantage of the lot’s depth, which allowed him to give the architecture a layered feel. For example, the home’s entry sequence includes a wrought-iron gate that leads to an understated door with an old-world feel and into a courtyard that brings visitors to the home’s antique front door and H-shaped floor plan. With the footprint, Elenes was able to create multiple courtyards to maximize the amount of light coming into the rooms, which he carefully proportioned to create the cozy vibe the wife desired. “The majority of the rooms have fenestration on two, if not three, sides, providing the home with natural light and ventilation while giving the couple spectacular unobstructed views of the canyon,” says Elenes.

To maintain the authentic rustic-French style the clients desired, Elenes turned to books and personal photographs of Provençal travels. And, says Robert Ferguson, “We imported many materials, including the antique roof tiles, reclaimed stone and tile flooring, European-wood flooring, antique doors and light fixtures.” Working in tandem with superintendent Michael Karkut, Robert Ferguson orchestrated a veritable symphony of pieces, given the magnitude and detail of the project. “Coordination of materials and subcontractors were key to achieving the desired results,” notes the builder.

While the architecture leans more toward country French, the interiors take many of their cues from farther north. “After listening to the wife, I suggested Gustavian style for the cabinets,” says Carolyne Ferguson, referring to the 18th-century Swedish interpretation of neoclassical French taste. The designer tapped Marilynn B. Gilbert, a friend and mentor, to collaborate on the cabinetry—with its mix of Gustavian and traditional French features—and chose light neutrals for the walls, flooring, stone, countertops and furnishings. “Soft contemporary furnishings and rustic elements such as silk-burlap fabrics and raw natural woods were included in the mix for eye-catching interest,” Carolyne Ferguson explains. “I designed custom furniture to accommodate room size and proportion. These pieces enhanced the Gustavian style, specifically the painted dining room buffet and the custom dining room table with the zinc-inlay tabletop.” Lighting— some sourced abroad and other elements produced locally—add to the authentic feel of the home. Also joining the mélange were many of the clients’ own furnishings, artwork and accessories. “It was a true team effort,” says the designer, with the results creating a layered feel.

In his vision for the landscape, Grisamore captured some Provençal spirit, too, lining the driveway with sycamores and incorporating olive trees and lavender into his plant palette. He strove “to give each outdoor room its own identity, a balance between function and aesthetics,” he says. The entertainment courtyard, for instance, boasts an outdoor fireplace and seating area with plenty of room for large parties, allowing guests to meander across a geometric arrangement of stones set in the lawn. When not in use, the space reads as more garden-like, with the grass tempering the hardscape.

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the entire team and their attention to detail, the couple’s vision came to fruition. “The home is breathtaking, and it is remarkable that we could coordinate so well together to achieve such a spectacular home,” says Carolyne Ferguson. “On a personal level, I love the relationship I have with the wife. We can get together for lunch and be the best of friends; then we can meet and discuss strictly the business at hand. Not many friends could endure nearly 30 years of combining both.”

—Alexandra Drosu