East Meets West

New England refinement blends with SoCal style in this Newport Beach stunner.


When Mike Close, president of Southern California firm Spinnaker Development, first pulled up to this Ocean Avenue address in Newport Beach, he knew he had a semi-hidden gem on his hands. “The lot was close to Corona Del Mar’s downtown village. It was in one of the premier locations on the street. Yet, it was removed from the corner — kind of protected,” he says. “And then, obviously, being a part of Ocean Blvd., the location holds a lot of prestige.”

The home sitting on the lot, however, did not share the same clout. An original-condition, 1600 square-foot, two-bedroom beach cottage, it was in a considerable amount of disrepair.

The Spinnaker team purchased the lot and started from scratch, replacing the beach cottage with an entirely new home built from the ground-up. The result: A 7,130 square-foot, three-level seaside charmer that exudes refinement and elegance while giving nod to its classic Southern California beach location. “A lot of people comment that the home looks like it has fallen out of the Hamptons,” says Close.

Getting the Look:

Chris Brandon, of Brandon Architects, ensured the home’s exterior would evoke timeless elegance. White shiplap siding contrasts with black aluminum-clad french doors and windows for a classic color pairing. High-end wood detail and strong columns give the structure a stately feel. The roof was finished predominantly in cedar shingle (a New England mainstay) while other portions were done in metal with standing seams. “We constructed the metal roof in a zinc color instead of copper because it will maintain its charcoal color over time with that crisp, clean look,” says Close. “Homes built this close to the ocean take on a lot of wear and tear due to salt water, wind and sea breeze. So it’s important to use finishes that will last.”

Grand Design:

Every surface of this home received the luxe treatment. Recessed shaker paneling on walls and ceilings add architectural interest. The Spinnaker team also installed custom-finish, hand-distressed, wire-brushed European white oak flooring throughout.

A Study In Contrasts:

The open-concept kitchen features tone-on-tone ceiling detail created with paint-grade box beams and finished with a satin-finished lacquer, which adds dimension and formality to the space. Polished statuario marble countertops elevate the design aesthetic. By contrast, extra-large orb pendant lights call to mind Japanese sea glass floats: informal decor elements often found in East- and West-Coast beach homes.

Pretty Smart:

In keeping with the white wood detail throughout the home, a 36-inch SubZero® refrigerator / freezer sits behind custom wood-paneled doors. A polished marble backsplash matches the countertops for a unified feel while a custom-designed vent hood constructed by Modern Aire in powder-coated black adds to the classic black-and-white palette.

Furnished With Thought:

The Spinnaker team takes an unorthodox approach to interior design, integrating furniture placement, fabric, and lighting choices into the plan before breaking ground. Working with interior designer Kevin Smith of Details Design Firm, the team chose a color story that echoes the sand and sea: cool neutrals and wood tones contrasted with blue hues. “Approximately 60 to 70 percent of the furniture and decor items in this home are custom-made,” says Close.

Scoring Vantage Points:

“We try to focus on what we call ‘landmark properties,’” says Close. “The formal living and dining rooms are designed so you actually step up a foot to the kitchen and great room. That way, when you’re on the kitchen level you’re not affected by the furnishings or people sitting in the lower rooms. You’ll have a taller perspective and, therefore, a seamless view of the ocean.”

Perfect Panorama:

The home’s main-floor balcony opens to a limestone patio with a 180-degree view. “On a clear day, you can see as far as San Pedro and well past Long Beach,” says Close. “Then, turn southbound toward Crystal Cove and Laguna Beach.”

Decorous Detail:

Designer Kevin Smith chose textured fabric wallpaper for several surfaces throughout this home, including the main-level powder room walls. “It has a little sheen to it, more refinement than a heavy, beachy seagrass-type fabric,” says Close. Designers also paid careful attention to fixture details, adding elements like the laser-cut porcelain vessel sink and agate, copper and brass drawer pulls shown here.

A Window to the World (But Not Your Life):

“There are several homes in this area that are gorgeous and modern,” says Close, “but you might know what the owners are having for dinner.” The Spinnaker team, along with Brandon Architects, eschewed the revealing floor-to-ceiling-window, Contemporary architectural style currently popular in beachfront home design opting instead for a more private facade. Yet, the space feels anything but closed off. Here, in the master retreat, side lights combine with french doors opening to a wraparound balcony and a million-dollar Catalina Island view.

High Concept:

“We wanted this home to appeal to a large number of buyers and that’s why we settled on Traditional style,” says Close. “And we wanted it to have a beachy appeal, but not a casual one. It needed a level of refinement appropriate for the address.” To that end, embellished vaulted ceilings, wainscoting and a pair of tailored chairs evoke a sense of elegance the master bedroom. Light periwinkle blue replaces the expected beach-home turquoise color palette, while distressed furniture often found in coastal residences was bypassed in favor of more traditional, elegant side tables and a modern acrylic ghost ottoman with faux snakeskin upholstery.

But Wait. There’s More:

Lot space is at a premium in Newport Beach. So, in order to increase the home’s livable square footage from 5,500 to 7,130, the Spinnaker team added a basement level. Double bonus: the entertainment space includes a 600-bottle walk-in wine chiller, movie theater, gym and game room.

Just the Facts:


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