Joe and Lisa Preston couldn’t wait to move to this traditional Spanish Mediterranean home in California, in which a gorgeous perspective of Laguna Beach meshes beautifully with all the old-world architecture and the owner’s art collection. The plaster walls, vaulted beam ceilings, planked walnut doors and clay roof tiles are a fantastic match for your incomparable sea view from among the city’s best vantage points.
The couple worked with Ohara Davies-Gaetano of Bliss Design to incorporate a vibrant and private design that would grow with their children’ needs and display their collected global art and paintings. “The Prestons are very colorful folks,” says Davies-Gaetano. “They’re also understated, down-to-earth and casual. They just wanted their home to be fabulous, which has been the underlying theme for the job.”
in a Glance
Who lives here: Joe and Lisa Preston and their 3 young children
Location: The mountains of Laguna Beach, California
Size: 3,400 square feet on 3 levels; 4 bedrooms, 3 baths
That’s interesting: An 18th-century turtle shell from France hangs above the mantel.
The living room is bordered on both sides by glass doors, together with all the sweeping Pacific on one side and a hillside and courtyard on the other. As there’s no anchor wall, the designer pulled everything to the center of the space.
A oversized ottoman with tray in the living room serves as a coffee table. The mother-of-pearl inlay fits the seat in the hallway between the living and dining room.
Leather armchairs: Holly Hunt
“We don’t see a reason to reduce our layout standard for life with children,” says Joe. The couple believes that should they love the things in their house, their little ones can learn to respect that.
The velvet saffron-yellow couch, chaise and ottoman were custom made and upholstered locally. The colorful throw pillows are covered with textiles collected during the couple’s journeys. The Tibetan hand-woven area rug is coloured with vegetable dye to get a natural gradation, and the antique lamps were purchased from the initial owners of the house.
A cut and mounted slice of petrified wood is placed before a spectacular abstract art piece by Paul Ecke. “It needed something textural that would not take from the vignette,” says Davies-Gaetano.
When requested his advice into other art collectors, Joe shares,”Our guidance in artwork collection is not to buy a piece for decorative motives. Buy what you love, and it’s going to be a part of your daily life forever.”
For extra seats with flexibility, Davies-Gaetano placed a matching duvet from the fireplace. This comfortable setup is part of what makes the living room Joe and Lisa’s favourite room in the home. They wanted it to be formal and sophisticated, but also practical and lively. “Ohara attracted that together with all the vibrant colors and the spirit of our artwork, which represents a time and place in our own lives,” says Joe.
One of the last items added to the decoration — and among the greatest splurges — was that the 18th-century turtle shell from France above the mantel. “The extra tortoise shell and butterflies provide the space an exotic feel. We love to travel, and it reminds us of French island living,” says Joe.
Real butterflies are mounted within a classic wedding veil globe, set on a classic sculptor’s base from France.
The painting of a woman reflected in a pool is by California artist Eric Zener. It holds special significance for Joe, who’s an avid swimmer.
Like the living room, the sophisticated dining room occupies inside the home’s open floor plan without an anchor wall. The table and chandelier were also inherited by the previous homeowners. Upholstered chairs modeled after Italian antiques perform up the home’s old-world Mediterranean personality. A grass-green ceramic horse sits on a French antique oak chest that’s used for storage.
Floor-to-ceiling windows flow from the dining room to the kitchen. Guests enter the house on the top floor, where the living room, den, dining room, kitchen and master bedroom are located.
The master bedroom has been flanked by windows and doors on both sides of the bed. Pressed aluminum bedside tables from India and lamps made from gypsum and acrylic assist the space to feel light and airy.
Davies-Gaetano chose sea-foam linen window treatments and also a graphic headboard to create an effect in the master bedroom limited distance. The headboard fabric — designed from the Uzbekistani suzani design — is manufactured by Donghia.
The upstairs den is bathed in afternoon light. The preexisting 1950s curtains and also the owners’ vibrant artwork determined the orange and orange color palette. An African mask collection hangs alongside the fireplace, and a blue Tibetan rug warms the floor.
The locally custom-made couch is covered in wool, followed by a Baker reading seat and a Holly Hunt coffee table. The TV sits opposite the couch.
The guest bedrooms on the lower level kept a lot of the original flair. The orange room’s walls and window treatments are a lively take on the preceding homeowner’s affinity for its citrus colour. “When the family moved in, their 5-year-old daughter said this is her castle in the sky,” Davies-Gaetano says.
The key garden patio downstairs is tucked right into hedges with tiny pebbles that crunch underfoot. A guest could easily imagine themselves in a timeless European garden. “What makes this house special is that you’ve got different experiences as you go through. To begin with, you don’t see the sea view till you enter the home. Then you go downstairs and have this entirely fresh adventure,” Davies-Gaetano says.