Laidlaw Schultz Architects Designs a Laguna Beach Beauty
Literally and figuratively, the project was picture perfect. Re the former: a Laguna Beach hillside setting with expansive views of the Pacific Ocean, about 3/4 miles away. Re the latter: the owners were open to a contemporary intervention for the late 1960s dwelling that would become their SoCal vacation home. Their only stipulation? That it be a departure from the traditional leanings of their primary Dallas residence. Craig Schultz, who led the job as partner of Laidlaw Schultz Architects in nearby Corona del Mar, got the message, while being equally sensitive to surrounding neighbors.
The property was composed of two separate buildings arrayed around a courtyard to total 2,141 square feet. One was for the garage atop a cassita-guest house that was situated lower on the hill. The other was the home itself, its assets “good bones and quirky features,” Schultz begins. That said, it needed a prodigious amount of work. A complete interior demolition and rebuild to be exact.
His first decision, though, centered on that courtyard. Keep it or appropriate it for an indoor area adding to the highly valued real estate? The outdoor scenario won out. Schultz created an al fresco living room taking advantage of straight sight lines to the sea. As part of the exterior intervention, he updated the cassita with painted steel louvers and put up a painted metal trellis for privacy and eventual bougainvillea. Then, the entire property was finished with smooth-troweled plaster and panels of weathering steel.
The new interior scheme evolves over three levels. Organization puts the entry at the hill’s topmost point, i.e. that of the garage, through a glass and painted steel portal lit up with pendants by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. From here, it’s down a few steps to the open expanse for living, dining, and kitchen with access to the courtyard through glazed bi-fold doors. A half-level up leads to a loft-like stretch with glass parapet overlooking the living zone. Sometimes it’s guest quarters for family and friends thanks to a trio of sliding, suspended glass panels to close off the bed. Most of the time, though, it’s a study and music room for the physician-husband to decompress and practice his avocation. The bottom level is given over to the primary suite where Schultz even managed to squeeze a Peloton in the closet. Sure, the bike’s a bonus, but more so, at least for design buffs, is discovery of the house’s rough foundation. Schultz opted to keep some exposed juxtaposing with his polished intervention.
As for the stairway, Schultz says: “It’s the big anchor.” In stark contrast to the rest of the house, it’s dark. The notion being it offers better views up and down all three levels than if it were entirely white. Thus, three sides of the stairwell are painted mdf boards, and the stairway is ebony-painted steel, its treads perforated for light penetration. The remaining side is a gridded glass partition, the treatment extending to the kitchen and loft.
“We kept the palette simple and calm so the owners can relax and unwind.” Schultz notes. That means white oak for interior flooring, porcelain pavers for deck and courtyard, white-lacquered cabinetry with knife-edged solid surfacing for counters in the kitchen, and walnut as millwork in kitchen and main suite. For texture, a wall of board-formed concrete spans the three levels.
Neal Stewart, the couple’s Dallas-based designer, reprised their collaboration. He selected furnishings, suitably contemporary and signed by top-name designers. To wit: sofa and side tables by Mauro Lipparini, a pair of swivel chairs by Niels Bendtsen, Paolo Cattelan’s two-tiered coffee table, an entertainment console by Giuseppe Bavuso, and, upstairs, a table desk by Guggenbichlerdesign.
“Ultimately, we wanted to do something sublime,” says Schultz. To which we add, super-intensive design within a compact space.
Watch a video tour of the residence: