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Drew Limsky | Photo: Lucas Cichon | October 8, 2013
An Orange County couple fills their home with vivid decor punctuated by shades of the region’s namesake hue.
“They clearly weren’t afraid of color,” interior designer Sarah Monaghan says of the owners of this recently completed Orange County project, a bold, three-bedroom home set on a sun-splashed cul-de-sac in picturesque Villa Park. As a design consultant for contemporary furniture retailer Cantoni’s Irvine showroom for the past six years, Monaghan has created her fair share of vibrant-hued spaces. (She studied space planning and color theory at the Interior Designers Institute in Newport Beach.) But this open-style, whimsical house demonstrates unusually confident uses of orange and blue, even by Cantoni’s standards.
The owners’ goal was to create an airy, playful environment that would support big, colorful pieces of furniture and art. Monaghan’s clients—a local business owner, his wife and their two children—spent a lot of effort transforming the house, even electing to live in an RV in their driveway for a year during the construction. Local architectural firm Nicholas Builders Inc. was enlisted to remake the bones of the home, and the contracting project allowed them to start virtually from scratch. “They tore down much of the house that was there before,” Monaghan explains, and built substantial additions to achieve a “contemporary house with an industrial, loft-like appeal.” (The industrial touches announce themselves immediately, courtesy of a custom, stainless steel door and blue-stained wood floors in the entryway.)
When it came time to devise the interiors, the owners ended up at Cantoni’s Irvine showroom, looking for a bedroom set that they had fallen in love with online. There, they met Monaghan, and found they had an immediate chemistry—so much so, theyasked her to oversee the furniture selection of their entire home. The modern, sculptural pieces that they chose to fill the residence, mostly sourced from Italy, would take four months to travel to California, but the result—vivid, assertive, comfortable—was well worth the wait. The furniture also served as the perfect complement to the owner’s existing funky art collection, which includes Warhol-esque pop-art portraits of iconic figures like Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. To Monaghan, these clients are part of a turn toward an Italian modernism aesthetic. “With all the remodeling going on, people are going more contemporary,” she says. “They’re tired of the overdone look.”
The soaring great room is clearly the centerpiece of the residence, flowing into the dining, kitchen and bar areas. Because the space is so open, the room required a sofa substantial enough to act as a divider. Monaghan found it in the monumental Mondrian sectional, a dark brown, modular piece from Gamma, one of Italy’s leading upholsterers and furniture brands. “It’s probably one of the biggest sofas I’ve ever sold,” she says. “Most are half that size. It’s also made of superthick leather, which is great because they have dogs.”
The sectional needed some appropriately showstopping pieces to match it, so Monaghan chose an enormous Gallotti & Radice wood-and-glass coffee table and a Dellarobbia rug made from New Zealand wool. On the edge of the room, an orange lacquer credenza and two smaller high-gloss lacquer wall cabinets were sourced from esteemed 65-year-old Italian furniture-maker Pianca. Of Cantoni’s turnkey service—they make sure their installations are live-in ready—Monaghan notes, “We hung everything and installed the cabinets right into the drywall.”
According to the designer, the owners wanted to make a colorful statement with the surfaces on the first floor, so they opted for burnt-orange polished concrete floors and, above the gel-fuel, inset fireplace, the ultimate conversation piece: an innovative, 3-D wall crafted from square and rectangular pieces of orange medium-density fiberboard, irregularly placed. The unconventional lighting installation—composed of numerous, individually suspended glass balls—was custom-ordered from Bocci.
On the second story (as on the first), the house is full of light and art. The loft that overlooks the great room, the personal space for the wife, is illuminated by dramatic clerestory windows. Its sitting area contains four barrel Picasso chairs and a custom cocktail table in black leather, both by Gamma, while over in the office, there’s a glass desk with leather wrapping, custom-designed by Cantoni. Of course, the master bedroom has been decorated with the elegant Nicole Miller Ritz Collection set that drew the couple to Cantoni in the first place. “They fell in love with the exotic African wood on the dresser,” Monaghan says. “It’s macassar ebony and has eight layers of gloss, like a piano finish.” The bed, with a leather inset headboard and black lacquer accents, is wrapped in a dupioni silk duvet, custom-ordered from the New York-based bedding company, Wildcat Territory.
Back on the main floor, the dining area is strikingly alive in shades of blue, featuring a custom-made banquette upholstered in ultrasuede, embossed to look like snakeskin. It is accompanied by a chic white table and chairs from Malerba’s One & Only collection. The three-panel Fizz mirror from BDI that hangs above the fireplace reflects the owners’ affection for pop art.
And then there is the children’s favorite space, the game room. Here lies one especially beloved choice that Monaghan cites knowingly: an orange, custom-made rug. As the designer explains, “It’s the piece that kicked off the whole orange theme!”