Now Playing

Masterful Mix

Spanish and modern meet family-friendly in a fashion-forward Newport Beach estate.

Bright whites contrast with vivid hues on custom furniture in the modern living room, which also showcases a dramatic Robert Abbey chandelier and artwork from the Laguna Beach-based JoAnne Artman Gallery.

After living in Newport Beach’s exclusive island community of Lido Isle for the past eight years, Cari and Chad Peets (he a business owner; and she, a homemaker) decided it was time to shop for a larger home for their family of five—with another baby girl on the way this summer. Deciding to test the housing market waters, they put their home up for sale, never expecting for it to be scooped up by a buyer in just two days. Cue the fast-track search for a perfect new property. “There are a lot of kids in the house all of the time, plus our golden retriever, Harry, and I was looking for a comfortable yet stylish space,” says homeowner Cari. “I wanted a warm and inviting family home that was light, bright and airy, and easy to come on into and relax.”

As luck would have it, the couple quickly located the exact type of home they were seeking in an area they coveted: a grand two-level, 5,200-square-foot residence on Snug Harbor Road, in the sought-after community of Cliff Haven in Newport Beach.

“What turned us on was the layout,” Cari says. “All of the bedrooms were upstairs, and it had a really nice bonus/game room off the garage with its own bathroom and a beautiful glass opening out to the pool. We thought it would be nice for kids.”

There was just one glitch. “It was very Tuscan, very 2004, and we wanted something with cleaner lines, and lighter and much brighter,” she adds. “We decided to keep the bones of the house, which were great, and move a couple of walls here and there, but nothing major. We thought, ‘We’ll just fix this,’ but it turned into a complete redo.”

Adjacent to the kitchen, the dining room’s sleek white wood walls and glossy wood ceiling are masterfully paired with a custom dining table and highlighted by a travertine accent wall.

That’s when interior designer Erica Bryen, owner of Newport Beach-based Erica Bryen Design, came into the picture. Having previously worked with the Peets on their first home on Lido Isle and a vacation home in Park City, Utah, Bryen knew the family well and was able to blend the husband’s obsession for the Spanish look (think tile floors and Old World wooden beams) with the wife’s fun and eclectic flair (i.e., updated, modern furnishings) to completely transform the Old World-style abode into a funky, bold residence with clean, modern lines and comfortable spaces for the entire family—just in time for an appearance on the 2015 edition of the Newport Harbor Home Tour in May.

“I tried to mix it the best I could, and I think it worked out,” says Bryen, who also drew inspiration from the couple’s stunning contemporary artwork—collected for the past 10 years mostly from JoAnne Artman Gallery in Laguna Beach, which is well-known for representing avant-garde artists such as large-scale painter Anja Van Herle and mixed-media master James Verbicky.

Bryen’s main goal? “I wanted people to walk in and say, ‘Wow, where did this come from?’...and not to have seen it anywhere else.” Nowhere is this more apparent than in the kitchen—which brandishes a whimsical blue, gray, cream and white hexagonal clay tile floor with matching custom-made colors used as accents, along with a couple of the designer’s favorite items in the home: gold counter stools and a massive center island with a brass-banded countertop—along with a one-of-a-kind black-and-white playroom with unique kid’s furniture that doubles as art.

In addition, Bryen incorporated a multitude of colorful, cutting-edge finishes and materials to give each room its own distinct flair. In the family room, studded leather doors open to a handsome space displaying a marble hearth resembling the ocean and clouds; the dining room’s sleek white wood walls and glossy wood ceiling are paired with a custom dining table and highlighted by a travertine accent wall; and in the foyer, the hardwood flooring is laid in an intricate chevron pattern. The pièce de résistence has to be Bryen’s stunning staircase, which boasts Spanish wrought-iron railings and white handrails.

While the downstairs is a study in white, the designer went with a dark charcoal gray palette for all of the doors, moldings and baseboards upstairs. A private sanctuary for the family, the level includes personalized bedrooms for each of the three children—Rowdie, 14; Emma, 13; and Catherine Clementine, 10—including girly pink and lavender wallpaper in one daughter’s room; mirrored closets in another’s that cater to her passion for dance; and a bold, masculine space with a bright-orange credenza and geometric star carpet for the son. For the master, Bryen created a relaxing retreat replete with standout features like a decorative slatted-wood piece behind the bed that has the appearance of wallpaper—a nod to Cari, who likes things to be off balance and surprising—and a giant tile rug inset in the bath.

As for the outdoors, cantilevered folding doors lead to an inviting backyard featuring a seating area with fireplace, built-in barbecue island with barstools, concrete dining table surrounded by a huge banquette, and sparkling pool and spa, offering plenty of spots for the family to relax and entertain friends.

“Someone told me a long time ago, ‘Don’t go with a particular style; buy what you love,’” Cari says. “That’s what I did. When we saw pieces we really liked, we got them, and we chose materials, tiles and slabs we loved and merged them together. I didn’t go into it with the idea that I wanted to build a Spanish, Colonial or modern home, I just wanted to walk into every room and have there be a unique element of design that told a story.”

“It’s really important that we surrounded ourselves with things that meant something to us,” she adds. “It’s not about filling up space, but about seeing something you love and incorporating it into the design. I absolutely love it; there’s nothing I would change.”



Newport Beach

Erica Bryen Design

Ashley Norton
Kitchen hardware

Coastal Tile and Stone
Custom design kitchen floor

Designers Resource Collection
Living room chandelier and floor lamp, dining room chandelier, pendants in kitchen, foyer art light and outdoor seating (with Perennials and Groundworks fabric)

Estate of Design
Living room drapes

Hart Concrete Design
Living room fireplace and outdoor bar area

Kenneth McDonald Designs
Dining room chair fabric and Roman shades in kitchen

Ollin International Inc.
Travertine stone wall in dining room, kitchen counter slab and Neolith slab for outdoor dining table

Phase Design
Kitchen barstools (with Kravet fabric)

The Rug Company
Living room and dining room carpets

Stark Home & Trade Showroom
Foyer carpet