For a Corona del Mar couple, the decision to rebuild on a very specific lot came down to two key factors: nostalgia and family history. “It’s a really sweet story,” says interior designer Denise Morrison, principal of Morrison Interiors in Orange County. She worked alongside architect Christopher Brandon, president and principal architect of Brandon Architects in Costa Mesa, enlisted by the couple to bring the approximately 4,200-square-foot residence to life. “One of the homeowners’ parents lived in the home [built in the 1960s], and it was very loved by our clients and our clients’ children, who grew up visiting their grandparents at the home.”

The couple, who envisioned a light and open house with a cohesive indoor-outdoor flow that captured both bay and ocean views, also wanted to create a destination for family gatherings and a space for new memories. “The home held many pleasant memories for us, and we felt this was a way of honoring those memories,” says the wife. “We wanted it to be comfortable for the two of us while still accommodating a larger group of family and friends. It was also important for the spaces to incorporate existing items, especially art, and integrate them with new furniture and decorative pieces.”

For the overall design, an array of elements and materials were carefully implemented, including a standing seam metal roof; exposed steel beams; exposed white oak tongue-and-groove ceilings; and natural tumbled stone, along with a warm, organic contemporary aesthetic with calming shades of white, black, and khaki. Subtle pops of earthy reds and terracotta and artwork from the couple’s collection were placed primarily in the entry.

“There was a feeling that this had to be a perfect family home that honored the past and set the stage for the future,” explains Morrison. “Incorporating the homeowners’ important collectibles was key to making this new home feel familiar and respectful of its history.”

Design elements throughout the house include stone floors; a dirty kitchen separate from the primary kitchen for prep and cooking; a spacious office with plenty of storage and two large working spaces and a shared peninsula; and an outdoor patio with a full-size pool with an infinity edge. Apart from the outdoor space with drool-worthy, unobstructed ocean views, the pièce de résistance is the great room with a powder-coated aluminum coffee table by Alfonso Marina; swivel chairs by Thomas Lavin; a T-Street sofa by HOM (House of Morrison), designed by Morrison and upholstered in a linen-blend fabric; and an oil-on-canvas “Horizon Series #15” painting by artist Jeff Peters that hangs above the fireplace. “It is hard to select a favorite space because we like them all,” admits the wife. “If we had to choose, it would be a tie between the great room and back patio, followed closely by the office. Honorable mention goes to the art wall.”

In the entry, a long corridor creates a sense of arrival and an opportunity to take in the ocean views. “I love their entry and the fact that so much space is devoted to it with so much natural light,” adds Morrison. The serene space is dotted with a sideboard made from a single slab of old Caribbean walnut; wall sconces by Allied Maker; a wood carving sculpture on a pedestal procured by the couple on their travels; and a flat, woven embossed linen wallpaper by Adrienne Laskin & Associates that serves as a perfect backdrop for art. Black-and-white artwork from the couple’s collection is paired with a large, commissioned piece by Victoria MacMillan from Salt Fine Art Gallery in Laguna Beach.

“The commissioned piece was of Crystal Cove Beach, but they wanted it to depict the area of how it used to look when there were trailers in the area before they were removed in the late 1990s,” explains Morrison. “Many of the other art pieces we used throughout were items the couple had purchased on their travels all over the world. Antique rugs and textiles from Morocco were framed in plexiglass, and there are watercolors from Luxembourg.” 

With a fresh beginning anchored on such a significant piece of the past, the couple couldn’t be happier. “Both the exterior and interior designs exceeded our requirements and wishes,” explains the wife. “The longer we have lived there, the more we like it, as does our extended family.”

Brandon agrees: “We’re thrilled with how this home has been completed, taking advantage of the seamless indoor-outdoor aspect of the design with the pocketing doors, and ample space for entertaining and expansive ocean views. We feel like this home is a perfect example of a Southern California transitional design.”

For more information, visit