See How A Traditional Beach House Got a Dose of Whimsy & Glamour

Staying away from coastal clichés but still giving a nod to the ocean with subtle references such as shagreen furniture, mother of pearl and shades of blues, this coastal home is a fresh take on a traditional beach house with undertones of whimsy and glamour.


When the owners bought this hard-to-come-by modern home in the exclusive private beach community of Emerald Bay in Laguna Beach, CA, they hired Seyie Design to help them transform it into a chic retreat. Just a stone’s throw away from the beach, the 4,900 sq. ft. Shingle Style house originally built in 1936 underwent an extensive remodel and decorating process to fit the style and desires of a successful, global finance entrepreneur, his wife and three daughters.

Working closely with the owners, who had a very clear vision of what they wanted in the design of the home, Seyie designed a comfortable home, great for beach-style entertaining while still elegant. The owner's bold and daring taste, love of colour, drama, antiques and rich textures, were incorporated into the design.

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A multicoloured Vistosi chandelier (from 1stdibs) in the entrance hall sets the tone of the vibe of the house – bold and playful – and foretells the different colour stories that will unfold in the various rooms throughout the home. The door pictured in the hall opens to a cosy den.

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The laidback den is fresh with a white corner sofa with pops of colour coming from the Christian Lacroix upholstered cushions. A shagreen side table sits between the blue swivel chairs and a gilt antique chair, c. 1880, is used as a desk chair. The owner's grandmother’s china is displayed with Fornasetti plates on the wall while Matthew Studio knobs of clear quartz with brass dress up the white built-in desk.

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The semi-open entrance hall leads into the living room with lounge seating and a built-in bar. With a flair for entertaining, the husband requested a statement bar in a lounge-like setting in the living room which has an expansive view of the ocean.

(Image credit: PJ McMullan)

Custom sofa and chaise in Sahco fabric accented with pillows and ottomans in Missoni fabric create a lounge area to enjoy the ocean view outside. The 48” square brass cocktail table is hand-hammered and crafted by local artisans in Los Angeles.

The built-in bar is designed to look like a piece of furniture with slate blue lacquer finish, stripe marmara marble countertop, and matching cabinet and appliance pulls in white burnished bronze. Mirrored exposed back reflecting outside view, floating glass shelves and cantilevered racks give a sense of lightness, and display glassware and wine bottles like a retail showcase.

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A rift-oak table with brass-finish base is surrounded by custom benches with tropical Christian Lacroix fabric and Milo Baughman chairs to create a comfortable yet dramatic dining room.

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Keeping the design sleek but balanced with a traditional warmth, white cabinetry is fitted with satin brass hardware from Nest Studio and accented with glass mosaic backsplash.

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The adjacent breakfast nook gets an inviting built-in banquet for casual dining. The Milo Baughman dining chairs sit around a Julian Chichester dining table. The breakfast nook chandelier is from Arteriors.

(Image credit: PJ McMullan)

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Continuing the fresh coastal glamour into the cloakroom, the whitewashed oak bath vanity is mixed with unlacquered brass hardware, panels of beveled wall mirror and a pair of Murano sconces.

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Layering in visual depth, a navy upholstered bed is flanked by a silver-finish nightstand and a shagreen desk. Table lamps are vintage, gilt desk chair is an antique and re-upholstered with a Rubelli fabric, and wool & bamboo silk rug is Indian.

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In the master bathroom, a freestanding bathtub sits on dark wood floors surrounded by an accent wall of wave design marble & mother of pearl mosaic. His-and-her custom designed dark lacquer bath vanities are bejeweled with lucite and nickel hardware.

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All photography is by Joe Schmelzer unless otherwise stated.

Lotte Brouwer

Lotte is the Digital Editor for Livingetc, and has been with the website since its launch. She has a background in online journalism and writing for SEO, with previous editor roles at Good Living, Good Housekeeping, Country & Townhouse, and BBC Good Food among others, as well as her own successful interiors blog. When she's not busy writing or tracking analytics, she's doing up houses, two of which have features in interior design magazines. She's just finished doing up her house in Wimbledon, and is eyeing up Bath for her next project.