Keep it Simple
A home by the beach marries function with beauty for quintessential California comfort.
Many who cruise down Newport Beach, California’s residential neighborhoods observe a stately home that stands out from the rest. “You notice it,” says interior designer Kim Woods. “It really has a presence on the street.”
Kim credits much of that to local architect Cynthia Childs, who laid down the groundwork that made her job much easier—a matter of filling in the details amidst beautiful paneling, built-ins and crown molding. “The house to me stands on its own without any furniture. It’s so pretty and so well done, with great finishes and materials.”
It’s hard to believe that what once stood on the same plot of land was a quaint three-bedroom, ranch-style home. Homeowners Greg and Suzanne Lukosky tore it down about four years ago and made the decision to rebuild a home to fit the needs of their growing family.
“She has three kids and she’s busy,” Kim says of Suzanne. “The nice thing about this house is that there’s a place for everything. It’s easier for her to keep the clutter away and manage the day-to-day mess of life.”
Greg and Suzanne, both from Newport Beach, needed a space they could entertain in. “They are a lot of fun and big family people who love having the house for the kids. The kids’ friends can come over and there’s plenty of room,” says Kim, who made sure there was plenty of seating in the living and dining rooms. The Lukoskys even transformed the garage into a hangout for the kids, equipped with a carpeted floor, sofa, shuffleboard table and TV.
Enter the home on its classic brick steps and you’re greeted with a collection of sunhats that adorn a 100-pound iron hat rack. A stool and antique bucket keep the entryway practical and functional. Greg and Suzanne envisioned traditional wood floors, wood details and clean white paneling, which are seen throughout the home. “It’s a little bit beachy; I’d call it California casual,” Kim says. “I think the house is very traditional and timeless, and at moments a bit formal. It keeps the look casual and not too stuffy.”
Kim had known Suzanne for a few years before designing this home and was able to gauge her style. “She loved talking to me about the design and was always showing me pictures she tore out of magazines,” Kim says. “We really have similar tastes, so it was fun for me to work with her.”
In the living room, Suzanne’s main goal was finding the perfect sofas. Her requirements were that they be big, easy to clean and comfortable. “She said, ‘That’s the first thing I want.’ She was so excited to have these big, comfy sofas and have us all sit there at the same time,” Kim says. “It really started with that.” Next came picking the linens that were to be washable and casual. Suzanne wanted versatile slipcovers so that spills on the sofa would be trivial.
By sticking to a neutral color palette in the room, Kim was able to play up the pillows using vibrant greens. “With my clients, I really encourage switching out pillows or switching out little things throughout the season over the years. It feels like you’ve got a whole new room with just minimal effort,” says Kim, who suggests doing this rather than reupholstering the sofas every few years, which is costly. “That’s why we kept the color on the pillows, accents and plants.”
Kim also incorporated a vast mix of materials into the room while sticking to its muted palette. The distressed wood coffee table that “hides a lot” because of its dark shade is kid-friendly and defines the seating area. A custom jute rug atop the walnut floors combine earthy tones that complement the clean whites.
In the youngest daughter’s room, Kim went with a “girly” look and used one of her favorite soft, peachy pink paints on the walls. Suzanne found the dresser at a local store. She loved its distressed ivory paint and unique detailing made using various buttons. The shell light fixture continues the beach theme of the house but is a fresh take on it. “Even though it’s shells, if you redo the room in a couple years you can still work around it. It’s traditional and classic enough,” Kim says. The little girl is now 7 years old, but many of the accessories in the room can remain when she gets older because of Kim’s philosophy of investing in long-term pieces. “Keep the big stuff—rugs, furniture, dressers, any big built-ins—timeless. I’ve had to talk a few clients into doing that, but they have been happy in the end about it.” This way, to redecorate a room, all it takes are new linens, small accessories and a fresh coat of paint for a whole different look that won’t dent your wallet.
In the master bathroom, a door leading out to the balcony and large windows let in the natural light. Simple white linens, unlined Roman shades that don’t block too much sun and recessed, built-in medicine cabinets provide a restful retreat that utilizes simplicity. “I don’t like a lot of clutter on top of the counter. I think it can be distracting,” Kim says. “The bathroom is really soothing and nice; it has a lot of space and natural light.” Look closely at the details, from the brushed nickel faucets, industrial-style light fixtures, basket-weave tile and a shell mirror over the tub, and you’ll see hints of color in the sea of white.
“Function comes first. That’s what’s great about the house: it doesn’t need a lot. We could have added more accessories, but the great thing about this house is the detail. The more you put into it the more it distracts from the beauty.”
By Karen Wilhelmsen
Styled by Jacqueline deMontravel and Kim Woods
Photography by Bret Gum