The process of building a new home runs much more smoothly when your architect lives right down the street. When Mark Scheurer, of Scheurer Architects in Newport Beach, was brought on board to build a modern coastal home for a family of four, he already had a high level of comfort with the neighbor- hood; he lives there with his own family. Plus, the fact that Scheurer had worked with the husband—a former developer—and his father in the past made the architect an altogether perfect choice for the project.
Considering the tall order the clients wanted him to fill, Scheurer’s familiarity definitely came in handy. The relatively small site is just a stone’s throw from Newport Bay, so the homeowners wanted to maximize views while still maintaining privacy from the street and closely neighboring homes. They envisioned a two-story structure with coastal influences—but nothing too rustic—that would allow for an indoor-outdoor lifestyle, and private suites for their two daughters, complete with a walk-in closet, a full bath and a study area for each.
“Nobody expected we could pull something off of this size and still have it maintain a good scale and work out so well,” says the architect, who worked alongside builder Andy Ziething, of Andy Ziething General Contractor in Huntington Beach. Scheurer’s solution was to design a C-shaped home oriented around a south-facing courtyard. “That maximizes the number of rooms that can face toward the sunlight or toward that courtyard, so you’ll see that most of the public rooms look inward instead of opening outward toward the other houses,” Scheurer says. “So there’s not really a privacy issue.”
In fact, he says, his favorite part of the home is the experience of walking through its front door, where one’s line of sight continues through the living room, past the courtyard and to the guest suite beyond. “There’s a great moment there where the house feels a lot bigger than it actually is, and that’s a result of achieving those view lines,” Scheurer says.
Interior designer Courtney Lawrence-Ziething, of CC and Company Designs in Newport Beach, stepped in to extend the exterior materials palette of exotic woods and stacked Texas shell stone to the interior, creating a seamless transition and the illusion of even more space.
The palette was chosen in direct response to the clients’ love of tropical locales (they are well-traveled and have family history in both India and Australia) and includes rich woods like mahogany, Macassar ebony wood, zebrawood and Brazilian cherry. Then, because the homeowners used to live in Los Angeles and also embrace the glamorous aesthetic of Old Hollywood, Lawrence-Ziething incorporated opulent, reflective materials like velvet, antique mirrors and crystal. “That reflectiveness is also complementary to a lot of the natural matte materials in the house,” she says. “The juxtaposition creates excitement.”
The designer especially enjoys how that combination played out in the master bedroom, where mahogany ceiling beams and French doors play off of upholstered custom pieces in a tone-on-tone color scheme of winter white and cream. A silk satin–upholstered wall adds visual interest while serving to insulate the room. “It quieted the space by about 100 percent,” Lawrence-Ziething says.
The majority of the home’s furnishings—with the exception of a handful of antiques and family heirlooms—was designed by Lawrence-Ziething and custom- made by her husband, Jim Ziething, owner of Ziething Cabinets in Costa Mesa (Jim and builder Andy are brothers). His detailed handiwork is evident in elements like the dining room’s wood wall, in book-matched and butt-matched serra jarrah crotch mahogany, as well as furniture and storage that serve to minimize clutter while maintaining a high level of artistry.
Indeed, it’s that subtle balance between form and function, natural and manmade, tropical and refined that makes this home difficult to define—but impossible to resist, says Scheurer. “I call it California beach hybrid. It doesn’t look old, and it doesn’t look too contemporary. It’s a warm house that can last and stand the test of time.”