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A Beachfront Home for Family

Designer Ohara Davies-Gaetano helps two brothers forge a family getaway on the California coast

Written and produced by Jenny Bradley Pfeffer
  • Victoria Pearson

    Much like driftwood that has been fretted until nearly polished, so this well-loved California home is equal parts organic beauty and effortless grace.

    In actuality, well-loved may be an understatement. Shared by brothers Corey and Todd England and their wives, Carrie and Jeannette, the Dana Point, California, beachfront retreat is more often than not overflowing with family. With 14 children and 19 grandchildren between them, the Englands, whose everyday homes are in Salt Lake City, require a getaway for their broods that is as resilient as it is inviting.

    “We didn’t want to build a ‘wow’ house,” Jeannette says. “Nothing overstated. We wanted something open and comfortable. But we also needed a beach house that could be abused, not only by salty sea air, but also by kids.”

    For this multitiered task, they called on designer Ohara Davies-Gaetano, a Traditional Home 2018 New Trad honoree with an eye for both relaxed refinement and family-friendly living.

    “The Englands have such an amazing sense of family,” Davies-Gaetano says. “I wanted to honor that. My first thought was, How do we make this house beautiful and indestructible at the same time? 

    Following her self-imposed directive, while also opting for impact on arrival, Davies-Gaetano custom-designed an elegant front door carved from mahogany (a wood that will stand up to unforgiving oceanfront elements). The rich wood carries over to the entryway ceiling, balancing limestone floors that offer practicality for bare feet returning from beach frolics.

    The island-inspired allure of pierced-metal pendants and a cane-back chair dressed with vintage indigo fabric cushions sets the  stage for the rest of the house—resort-like and powerfully inviting.

     

    A cane-back chair and cushions from Hollywood at Home and a pouf from Lee Industries create chic seating in the resort-like entry.

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  • Victoria Pearson

    Equally welcoming, the great room’s decor finds no need to compete with the home’s most organic attribute, its jaw-dropping view of the Pacific Ocean. Neutral walls, minimal architectural details, and sand-hue upholstery and draperies let the eye travel directly to the wall of retractable glass doors—and the panoramic view beyond. Against the soothing palette, delicate block-print linen pillows
    offer just the slightest hint of color—like sea glass on a bed of sand. Faux-leather-clad ottomans move easily for fort building or floor playtime. All-forgiving indoor-outdoor fabrics and slipcovers keep Popsicles and peanut butter and jelly off the banned list.

    “It embraces what it means to be at the beach,” Davies-Gaetano says. “It has a timeless quality without being stuffy. There’s no fuss to it. No pretention. It feels well-appointed but incredibly livable.”

     

    Custom-designed ottomans and swivel armchairs from Lee Industries provide fluid seating options for family gatherings. Neutral curtains crafted from Schumacher fabric let the view shine. The artwork over the mantel is by Nick Gaetano.

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    Predominantly neutral in palette—but not in personality—the tone-on-tone kitchen is built for feasts, family, and abundant ocean breezes. Layered texture dominates here—in the form of cerused oak cabinets, a limestone tile backsplash, and playful basket lights over the requisite oversize island. A plaster hood with oak banding all but disappears into a wall of open shelving. A block-print linen framing windows and doors ties in beautifully with the kitchen’s pumice-and-sand palette while also relating the space to the adjacent great room. Oak bar stools with faux-leather seats, pale and elegant in their simplicity, bring to mind wave-burnished driftwood.

    “This is our family gathering space,” Carrie says. “The island—which can easily seat 10—takes on a life of its own when we cook. And there’s a cohesiveness between indoors and out. We throw open the doors, and the kids gather as we make pizza in the pizza oven.”

     

    Basket-weave pendant lights from Currey & Company and cerused stools from Oly Studio layer in textural interest.

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    Upstairs, this doors-flung-wide-open policy prevails, as well. Two serene master suites take full advantage of a spacious glass-walled balcony with an unencumbered view of the water. The primary master, with a radiant palette of soft blues and grays, sets itself apart with gossamer linen sheers adorning a four-poster crowned by a tiered fabric chandelier.

     

    A cool palette—silver-blue and gray in the Kravet curtain fabric and pillows from Bliss Studio—prevails here. The bed is from Lillian August.

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    The dreamy attached bath, spa-like and luminous in the ocean light, includes a lively mix of textures—from the patinated, whitewashed doors to a reeded bamboo ceiling and glass shower tile in gradient shades of blue. A dramatic selenite chandelier, reminiscent of frothy whitecaps, completes the coastal palette.

     

    The bedroom curtain fabric repeats in the bathroom to unify the spaces and highlight the hues of the reeded bamboo ceiling, limestone floors, and patinated doors.

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    In the secondary master, the impact of the ocean feels almost physical. Wall-to-wall sliding doors make the color of the sky and ocean impossible to ignore when creating a color scheme. Saturated blues—cheerful and confident against a neutral backdrop—are scattered throughout the room in the form of lively paisley curtains and indigo prints and ticking stripes on pillows.

    “I wanted the entire house to feel like an oasis,” Davies-Gaetano says, “but these private spaces had to be ethereal. Arriving at a house on the ocean should decompress you. I wanted even more of that sense of retreat in the bedrooms.”

     

    A blue-and-white paisley from Jim Thompson gives fluidity to a palette that reflects the seaside hues outside. The chandelier is from Oly Studio.

     

     

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    Kids can find their sense of retreat on the lower level—the workhorse of the house where practicality and room to move were prime design considerations. A large sectional and faux-leather ottoman with built-in storage provide copious seating options. Block-print pillows and a graphic flat-weave rug offer contrasting color to the approachable palette. A second kitchen, a pool table, and access to a sports court and jungle gym round out this kid-friendly space.

     

    A graphic navy rug from French Market Collection balances the chevron-pattern ceiling.

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    The pièce de résistance, however, is a spacious bunk room with eight bunk beds—each with playful wallpaper and a reading light. Floor pillows covered with indoor-outdoor fabric can be hauled outside for poolside lounging—a detail that perfectly reflects the sense of ease of the welcoming families who call this house home.

     

    To insert a playful aesthetic in the kids’ bedroom, designer Ohara Davies-Gaetano chose striped indoor-outdoor floor pillows from Annie Selke and a delicate wallpaper from Rebecca Atwood. The chandelier
    is from Currey & Company.

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    On the patio, chaise longues from Gloster offer the perfect perch for a sunset view.

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    The England families requested an “island-style” exterior for their home.

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