Balance is a word that designer Linette Dai uses often when describing the interiors of this Seal Beach home: the balance of bold and serene, industrial and natural, calm and glamour. Her clients, a family of six, pretty much gave her carte blanche, which is “the best gift you can give a designer,” she says. But Dai was mindful to meet their need for a beautiful respite that expressed their personality while still being comfortable and kid friendly. The result is equal parts earthy and modern, organic and fresh, with surprising color combinations and European pop art influences that inject the space with vibrancy and verve.
The project called for an exacting vision from the outset. As a new, two-story, 4,000-square-foot build consuming most of a corner lot that previously contained a small single-story residence, it required some painstaking planning in collaboration with builder Patrick O’Connell and project manager Tom Black, along with architect Paul Geijer.
The couple came to the table with a few specifics in mind. “The wife wanted a space all her own,” Dai explains, referring to the sumptuous, cognac-hued den where her client likes to read. In addition, because the owners were set on making this abode their forever home, they looked to the future and requested ADA-compliant bathrooms, including a curbless shower. Their wish list also encompassed a ground-floor bedroom that could potentially be transformed into a primary down the road.
A long, narrow structure was constructed to optimize the lot’s square footage, with halls of gallery space running the length of the house, both upstairs and down. And, with its clean-lined execution, the central stair, which features wood treads and a glass railing, is both functional and design-forward. “It was a special part of the project,” O’Connell comments. “We cut the glass in a sawtooth pattern so it would look like it’s disappearing into the treads.”
The main level’s polished-concrete floors are “another standout feature of this home,” the builder adds. Here, too, Dai balanced this outstanding element with just the right materials. Their industrial quality lends an edge to the interiors’ earthier notes, such as the Japanese-inspired slatted-wood accent walls in the living room, primary bath and kitchen cabinetry. Layering in more texture, natural stone appears in every space. “I’m passionate about marble,” shares Dai, who selected Arabescato Corchia with dramatic veining for the kitchen’s countertops and backsplash. In the primary bath, a green Verde Alpi “reminiscent of ocean waves” fosters a serene, spa-like feel.
For the common areas, Dai conceived a palette of potently rich yet natural hues tempered by soft neutrals like beige, gray or ivory. Strategic pops of color can be found in the kitchen’s mustard bar chairs or the den’s coppery cognac-upholstered built-in sofa. The living room, meanwhile, balances textures and shapes by mixing a sloping ivory bouclé sofa with a curved armchair and angular wood-and-rattan chaise. The primary bedroom’s scheme takes a bolder turn with an upholstered bed frame which, depending on the light, can read anywhere from aubergine to merlot. But the room’s pièce de résistance are dramatic cut-stone triangular bedside tables Dai designed using leftover White Beauty marble from the family room’s dry bar.
“The wife was so adventurous, we didn’t want to limit ourselves,” Dai recalls. And this risk-taking attitude was the perfect match for her own bold approach to design. “We always embrace the challenge of merging seemingly opposing themes or concepts and finding that delicate balance to make it look effortless.”