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Bold on the Bay

The transitional beach home of a Newport Beach family of six celebrates original art, eclectic statements and easy living.

“We wanted to create a space that melded vintage with modern,” Bryen says. A custom range with vintage flair, more modern barstools and transitional lighting help achieve her vision. Counters are made from Neolith, a durable, man-made stone. 

Bryen and team designed this bonus room around the homeowners’ four kids. “The house is on the larger size, so we wanted to have an area with all the amenities the kids would need,” she explains. “That way, they don’t have to constantly run downstairs.”

The teenage son’s bedroom is masculine and bold, with pops of yellow and green against black.

The same son’s sleek bathroom contains an asymmetrical vanity. 

Phillip Jeffries’ woven, striped wallpaper lines the bonus living area; interior designer Erica Bryen.  

For some people it’s all about process. Newport Beach’s Cari Peets is not your typical Orange County homeowner, something that makes interior designer Erica Bryen’s job extraordinarily exciting. Instead of settling into a home for the foreseeable future, the family prefers to move every couple of years, renovating, redesigning and growing their bold, high-end art collection as they go. Bryen is integral: The constant collaborator to the parents of four—with kids ranging from two to 17—recently worked with the duo to transform an English-style cottage to a modern marvel in the sought-after Bayshores neighborhood.

The community, lot size and circa-1949 house’s 5,500 square footage attracted the family, but there was plenty of work to be done since “we wanted to incorporate an interior that was reflective of our surroundings,” says Peets. Bryen, also a buyer at the 50,000-square-foot Costa Mesa showroom Designers Resource Collection (it’s where she and Peets first met years ago), worked hand-in-hand with their builder Jason Gonterman to add a room and open the existing floor plan, making it more casual, playful and welcoming, as is fitting for a beach house.

Bryen calls the starting point “very traditional with a Ralph Lauren beach vibe—think red brick, carved wood elements and traditional built-ins with lots of detailing.” But Peets was after something more transitional. “We wanted to capture both Cari’s love for modern design that pushes the envelope and a timeless coastal look,” says Bryen, who, over the course of a year, oversaw the major face-lift comprising of all new tile, flooring, cabinetry, lighting, ceiling designs, decor and mostly new furniture, some from Designers Resource Collection and others custom-made by a local woodworker. Together they brought key pieces from their previous dining and bonus rooms into the fresh, bright space alongside their extensive art collection, which includes a pop art graffiti piece from Crash, a bright pink one-of-a-kind painting of Kate Moss by Robert Mars, and a few new works from Laguna Beach’s JoAnne Artman Gallery that inspired and informed many of Bryen’s plans.

The modern art, furniture and fabrics pop against clean-lined paneling, shiplap, beams and softer touches (think grasscloth wallpaper and a subtle blue and neutral palette) that pick up on the beachy aesthetic of their surroundings. Statements come courtesy not only of those vibrant touches but lighting, such as Bryen’s favorite chandelier in the kitchen (the center of the family’s day-to-day life), a brass fixture with hanging quartz crystals by Kelly Wearstler for Visual Comfort. Daughter Everlie Eloise’s incredibly chic-yet-warm nursery and playroom exemplifies the way Bryen and Peets think about design. It’s her mom’s favorite room.

“Most people would have gone for a kiddie-themed nursery in a baby pink, but we went with a bold Kelly Wearstler–inspired look,” says Bryen of the space that features the L.A. designer’s wallpapers and fabrics for Kravet for an architectural black-and-white look with pops of dusty salmon. Another daughter got involved with the design scheme of her boho-beachy bedroom, which incorporates custom whitewashed cabinetry and floor poufs. While the family is happily at home in their new beach house, there’s undoubtedly another project on the horizon with Bryen, because, she says, “We love creating spaces that you aren’t going to see anywhere else.”


Single-family home

Newport Beach

Jason Gonterman,
Gonterman Construction

Interior Designer
Erica Bryen, Erica Bryen Design


Brownstone Upholstery
Family room sofa

Fabric for Roman shades

Clarke & Clarke
Pillow fabric

Kelly Wearstler
Kitchen chandelier (for Visual Comfort), wallpaper and fabric in nursery (for Kravet)

Mission Tile West
Kitchen backsplash

Nathan Anthony Furniture
Boy’s room bed

Universal Furniture
Bedroom furnishings

Vanguard Furniture
Kitchen barstools