Proof That Cool Contemporary Design Doesn’t Have to Be Serious
Tour a Newport Beach home that nails the indoor-outdoor vibe.
Updated Oct 25, 2018 8:58 PM
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There’s something about a space that seamlessly blends the indoors with the outdoors that just feels instantly luxe. Maybe it’s because it mimics the vibe of a resort, making the everyday seem like a permanent holiday. This home—located conveniently in always-sunny Newport Beach—exudes exactly that vibe.
A brand new build by architect Eric Olsen measuring at 3,800 square feet, the home was a blank canvas for Raili Clasen. The freedom provided to the designer (whose signature fun-bordering-on-irreverent style is best showcased in her own stunning home) is exactly what was needed to create a totally custom look for the clients—a young family craving a fun, inviting, and “out of the box” (for Newport Beach, at least) home.
Over the course of 18 months, the “California Kitsch Project” as Clasen dubbed it, came to life. A balance of traditional breezy Cali style and cool architectural light fixtures, it’s both sophisticated and playful. Large-scale art pieces and quirky sayings emblazoned around the home (the “Thanks And Come Again” piece in the entry is so much more statement-making than a graphic doormat, right?) bring personality to the space.
“One of my favorite rooms is the boys’ jack-and-jack bathroom,” says Clasen. “We had a massive concrete sink made but I wanted to imprint a word into the concrete. Our concrete guy scratched his head for about two months on how to do this, and then one day he called and just said, GOT IT. We embossed “bros” into the side of the sink, and it’s awesome.”
The style came together organically; Clasen didn’t pigeonhole herself by choosing a strict color palette or theme from the beginning. Instead, each space almost has its own personality. The kids’ play space, featuring a giant dartboard, is cozy and casual. The stunning open concept kitchen, by contrast, is every bit the cool, contemporary design moment—perfect for more elegant entertaining.
“Our custom crazy light fixture in the kitchen took about three tries…but it turned out amazing!” says Clasen of the room that’s the clear focal point for the home. “Staining the kitchencabinets navy blue
was a nice change. I hadn’t seen a navy stain done before but loved seeing the grain come through in rich color.”
In fact, the whole house is chock full of those hidden details that elevate it from simply a well-designed home to one also full of character and individuality. Look closely, and you’ll notice the wood paneling in one bathroom actually goes in two ways—Clasen’s way to “avoid the expected.” In another bathroom, the giant mirror is slightly off-center and provides more visual interest than something perfectly symmetric. Gold hardware brings a formal balance to all the wooden elements throughout the home.
Tiny details and playful touches aside, the unifying factor in the whole project has to be the previously stated indoor-outdoor balance. Massive windows—Olsen even replaced walls with floor-to-ceiling windows—allow for maximum natural light.
Clasen did away with traditional definitions of “indoor furniture” vs. “outdoor furniture.” Patioaccoutermentss like rattan pendants, layered textiles, and a wooden coffee table make the outside space feel like an extension of the living room; inside, the prevalence of natural materials like wood and concrete coupled with rooms filled with greenery further blur the line.
“From the minute you walk in, you are connected to the backyard and [it] always feels like a party over there,” Clasen says of the home she describes as a modern California ranch. “Windows and bright, sunshine-y light everywhere allowed us to do dark cabinetry, moody wallpaper, and loads of personality—just like the family.”
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