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New Horizon

A stunning transformation brings out a Southern California property’s coastal side...

<< Back to Robb Report, Robb Report Home & Style May/June 2015

When their clients sought to renovate an oceanfront property in Laguna Beach, designer Arianna Noppenberger and her husband, architect Horst Noppenberger, summoned their powers of reinvention. The pair eliminated rooms, carved out double-height ceilings and windows, and added water features. They even reimagined the roof: “It’s very calming and soothing; it’s almost floating,” says Arianna of the 6,500-square-foot house’s streamlined cover, for which Horst selected zinc to create “a sense of visual lightness.” The material “softens over time,” he explains, “and has a powdery quality that doesn’t give off any glare.” The indoor/outdoor floor plan and central wind-sheltered courtyard unfold “as a series of experiential sequences,” he adds. “As you enter from the street and open the gate, then look down on the courtyard, you view the house from a distance and then, the ocean.

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To realize her aesthetic interpretation, Arianna flooded the home with crema pearl limestone, engineered oak, Calacatta marble, and ocean silver travertine, with the marble gracing floors and walls and the travertine providing accents throughout the space. “I moved a lot of walls, and I completely transformed the master bedroom and the kitchen,” she says of the five-year construction process. “We really had to manipulate the space, taking away square footage, and the owners were like, ‘What?’ in the beginning, but they were super happy in the end.”

In the lounge area just off the central courtyard, she and Horst introduced ebony-stained screens made of Resysta, a material selected for its sustainability and strength against the elements. The screens—a “second skin for the home,” says Arianna—also filter light, provide shade, and offer privacy without disrupting the visual flow. The contemporary furnishings—an outdoor rug and sectional by Kettal, a B&B Italia Springtime coffee table filled with succulents—exude the pair’s quietly modern aesthetic.

Behind the glass doors in the entry, there is little need for art because, says Arianna, “the site and the ocean provide the color in this house. It’s the artwork, with its constantly changing clouds, whales passing by, and all these sea creatures—it’s so beautiful.” A mink-leather Minotti bench rests atop a rug by Amara that was created from a patchwork of overdyed carpets. The organic tree-root sculpture—set inside an LED-lit niche—is from DAO (Design around Objects) in Los Angeles.

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Sea Change

The warmth ratchets up in the great room. Brushed oak floors undergird an upholstered pair of Christian Liaigre Latin chairs, two sofas designed by Arianna that are covered in weathered natural-state linen by Great Plains, and Tabu veneer casework. A colorful abstract painting by Hyatt Moore hangs above the custom travertine-surrounded fireplace. The dining room is equally inviting, with a Calacatta marble–lined bar, Bride’s Veil stools, a five-shade chandelier by the German company Zeitraum, and a bronze sculpture in the corner by the Laguna Beach–based artist Louis Longi. The space unfolds toward the sleek kitchen, which features Boffi cabinets, a nickel chandelier by Nemo, Paston Rawleigh Everett bar stools, Glove dining chairs by Molteni, and a custom dining table designed by Arianna.

The limitless views off the kitchen and beyond the glass-railed, steel-plate staircase, which leads to a brushed- and fumed-oak landing, are arresting. “Before, you didn’t have a clue that there was even an ocean view until you were way inside the house,” says Arianna. “Now you open the front door and enter into a two-story volume looking down and see the white water splash over the rocks, so it’s really dramatic.”

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Pure Intentions

Bright and light-filled, the daughter’s bedroom features soft white elements and ethereal drapery fabric by Holly Hunt. The palette is deliberately serene to avoid competing with the views off the room’s private balcony. Adding to the sense of calm is the silk swag Adagio chandelier by Fire Farm that suspends above the custom Aria Design bed. Atmosphere White linen and a Diamond Atlas coverlet by Robert Allen grace the bed. Meanwhile, the master suite, which occupies one side of the home’s lower level, has the ambience of a Zen lair: Aria Design’s custom embroidered panels adorn the wall behind the bed, and a custom bone-colored sofa faces the Caesarstone-clad fireplace. The black and gray rugs by Aria Design, a petrified wood side table, and Axo Light’s smoked glass Spillray chandelier further the space’s connection with the landscape just outside the sliding glass doors. “Everything is personalized to [the owners’] tastes,” says Arianna. “But the feel is always about making the connection to the ocean—from the colors of the limestone to the veins of the travertine.”

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New Sensation

The visual connection to the Pacific continues in the home’s outdoor areas. Upon entering the property from the street, visitors arrive at a glass-walled observation deck. Positioned above the pool cabana, the perch overlooks the entire estate, starting with the pool and its connecting pathways. “This area was all about the tactile experience of materiality,” says Horst. “You walk across the wooden bridge, you feel the wood—the temperature, the texture of the wood. Then you walk on the stone and experience its qualities. It was about alternating materials to create sensorial experiences.” The emphasis is also on resort-style rest and relaxation, as evidenced by the pool area’s Kettal chaises, B&B Italia side tables, Resysta plank deck, and cantilevered Janus et Cie umbrella. 

However, the property’s pièce de résistance may just be the husband’s subterranean “Garage Mahal,” a space so visually interesting the design team installed a window that provides a view from the adjacent screening room. “It’s like a little museum for the motorcycles the owner collects,” says Arianna, who installed dirt bikes on the walls and atop a giant turntable, and fitted the space with custom stainless-steel cabinets. She even inserted an in-house lube pit, over which the husband placed a racing yellow grille. “You can drive over with your car and work on it from below,” she says. “It has everything you’d find at the mechanic shop.” Consider it the Southern California manifestation of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.      

Aria Design, Arianna Noppenberger, 949.376.5996, ariades.com; Horst Architects, Horst Noppenberger, 949.494.9569, horst-architects.co

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