Thursday, March 12, 2009

A beautiful corner of the world

Normally I post about houses in Atlanta (and the occasional D.C. house) - the houses that I walk and drive by on a daily basis. Today I am going to take you 2,000 miles away to one of my favorite places in the world: Laguna Beach, California. The architecture in Southern California is so different from the architecture in Atlanta, and the houses on the ocean must adapt to the particular challenges of oceanside topography. Here is a tour of lovely homes in my favorite Laguna Beach neighborhood.

This is one of my favorite homes in the neighborhood, although it is not oceanfront. It is like a New England house, with its picket fence, gray siding, and turret to the side. Normally I like very symmetrical houses, but there is something so charming about this one. The blue front door is divided in half, so the top can open separately. In the summertime, the top is almost always open to catch the ocean breeze. If you look carefully, to the right of the tree is an outdoor patio with weathered teak furniture. The landscaping is somewhat subdued right now, but usually it is a riot of flowers with every color of the rainbow. If you look closely, you will see that the lights in front of the fence are shaped like flowers.


This beautiful Normandy style home is also one of my favorites; a driveway is rare in an oceanfront home in this neighborhood.


Many of the ocean front homes in Laguna Beach are built on cliffs. The two houses on the right are older homes, and it is interesting to see how small the windows are. A house built today would have many more windows to take advantage of the breathtaking views.


Here are three homes that were built within the past 10 years; look at all of the windows and tiers of levels. The goal of these newer beachfront homes is to have as many rooms as possible with an ocean view.


This one reminds me of a beach house in New England. It is not oceanfront, and there is a pool behind the hedges, in the front yard. I imagine that the room with the windows is the living room.


I love the urns that flank the entrance to this home. A small peek of the ocean can be seen over the gate.


Although the lots are small in this neighborhood (or maybe because of it), much emphasis is put on the landscaping. The mild year round climate is good for a large variety of flowers, most of which I never see in Atlanta. I am definitely not a gardener, but I have such appreciation for the planning and work that goes into maintaining a beautiful landscape.


This house is built into a cliff, so the pathway to the front door is quite long. I love the view - this could just as easily be a house that is in Spain or Italy. The Mediterranean style is very prevalent in this community within Laguna Beach.


Every time we visit this area, my husband and I make a special point to walk by this beautiful home. It is built on a double lot, right on a cliff overlooking the ocean. I love the covered dining area with the fireplace. It is probably not very convenient to the kitchen, but it would be a great place for an evening cocktail.


Since many of the homes are ocean front, often the back of the houses face the street. Because of this, some of the garages and fences are works of art in and of themselves! This is one of my favorites - it wouldn't work in Atlanta, but in a ocean front community it is charming. Take a close look at the fence and you can see two mermaids and a merman (is that the correct term?).


This new Mediterranean style home has beautiful garage doors. Mediterranean is the most common style for homes that have been remodeled or newly built in this area.


Many of the oceanfront homes have courtyards in front, with a charming gate as the entry.


This is the gate that goes with the house that looks like it could be in Spain. I wonder whether they light the lanterns at night?


Some of the homes in the neighborhood are Japanese in style.


This is the largest property in the neighborhood; it is truly a compound, and so sprawling (and protected) it was impossible to capture on camera. The intricate pattern on the gate is so beautiful it merits a place in this post.


I find this 1930s home to be fascinating (the one on the left). It is built on the cliff, and was made to look like a ship. Rumor has it that Tom Cruise rented this home several years ago!


This is another one of my favorite homes in the neighborhood, but it was very difficult to capture in a photograph. Its garage is down low, and access to the house is by a small set of stairs carved into the hill.


The garden is on three levels of terraces.


A view of the side of the house. The blue awnings are so charming.


Clearly I like this house! The front door is tucked to the side, and is one of my favorite shades of green. I love the lantern and the green shutters.


This is one of my favorite places in the world.

I hope you enjoyed the tour. Do you have a favorite house? Mine is the last one in this post - the Mediterranean style with the green door. I love the New England style home and the Normandy style home too...

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  1. What a beautiful post. The first house and the Tom Cruise house speak to me in a really good way.

  2. I love this post! (well, actually I love your whole blog). :)

  3. Beautiful homes! :) I love southern Cali too.

  4. Some stunning estates. Love the house on cliffs overlooking the ocean.

  5. The California landscaping always amazes me. Much harder do this at our deep south beaches where everything spends a good part of the summer baking at 90+ degrees. A wade in the surf is a lot more comfy here though.

  6. Thank you for the comments, everyone!

    Yes, even when there is a blistering heat wave going on in most of the country, the Southern California beaches seem to stay quite pleasant. It is rare for the temperature to go above the low 80s. Because of that, the water can be VERY cold!

    I do enjoy the landscaping in Laguna Beach...people are very into their gardens.

  7. I cannot choose. They are all sublime and I am incensed that I don't get to live there. ; 0

    It amazes me that they can build homes in these locations. But what amazing terrains for landscaping - all the levels and nooks and crannies must be a landscape architect's dream (if not his laborers...)

    Great post. Now I need a trip to somewhere warm and sunny...


  8. Holy guacamole! Fabulous, just fabulous!

  9. I went to Laguna Beach many years ago and remember how pretty the homes were. I love the way their architectural styles are different yet they don't seem to jar the landscape. Lovely visit, thank you. xv

  10. I can't remember the first time I stumbled acorss your blog, but for some reason, your beautiful designs keep me coming back for more. I'm a life long resident of Laguna Beach and have always loved the architecture here too. When I saw the homes you were posting I immediately recognized the community to be 3 Arch Bay, the beach I spent all my summer days at!!! And wouldn't you know that some of the homes you photographed belong to some of my dearest friends. Small world! :)

  11. Oooooh, we love then all! We'll take two of each! lol

    Joy and Janet

  12. Wonderful post! These houses are fantastic. Because each lot is unique (terrain, elevation, etc.), each house is also unique. I live in Florida where it is super flat, so many homes are the same. I love seeing an area with diverse architecture!

  13. Beautiful photos! I started out trying to pick a favorite photo and then I gave up! Fabulous homes!

  14. GREAT post!! Oh man, I don't know if I can pick a favorite - I'd take ANY of them! HeHe. I do love the 1930s on the cliff though. WOW, but of course, they are all WOW! Thanks for sharing!
    ~angela @ peonypatch

  15. Laguna Beach is wonderful...I have lots of family that live there so I have the privilege of hanging out there quite a bit. The town really is an architectural oasis in southern CA...there are some lovely homes there.

  16. What a wonderful tour! I am with you - the last house has a charm of it's own. Love the front door, the shutters, and the brick or rock work surrounding the door - just lovely!Thank you for such an architectural treat!

  17. Wow, wow, wow! Just beautiful. I could pick a favorite with all of those beautiful homes! Great post.

  18. your post actually made me want to live there. so many beautiful homes.. but I even think I'd be happy in a tiny one there. (if they exist?? ;)

  19. I am so glad you shared these pictures with us! Simply beautiful! My favorite is the 1930s home. Wish I could see inside.

  20. Loved the tour of Laguna Beach. Hard to pick a favourite house.... maybe the house that was built to look like a ship, because it's unique and because of how it clings to the side of th cliff!!

    It's fun to see houses that are typical of different geographic regions. Interesting how these oceanfront homes have the decorative gates at the back.

    Thanks for the virtual trip to California!!

    Kelly @ DesignTies

  21. Oh, and definitely paint your door green!!!! :-)


  22. Hi - I loved this! I think my favorite house is that last one with the three stories - so charming. What a beautiful place to stay and what a view! What restaurant was that taken from? omg - I want to go there so badly. We always go eat or have a drink at that big hotel there - not the Montage, but is it a Four Seasons or a Ritz? - anyway just to see that view. Have you ever seen that show where the statues come alive? My parents drive up there every summer to see that and a opera or something like that! Have fun and come back soon! I need you!!!1 :(

  23. No wonder I didn't see you on your visit. Who could leave such a beautiful place?
    The home with the swimming pool intrigues me. I know you mentioned that they aren't beach front, but do they have a view? I am assuming that is why the pool is in the front.
    My favorite is the 1930's home. It looks like it is part of the hill.


  24. Laguna beach is beautiful, felt somewhat European to me when I was there. Great home tour, thanks!

  25. They are all gorgeous, great shots but my favourite is the NE style Beach House (of course).

  26. I lived in San Diego thirteen years and loved going up the coast for long weekends. I have a dear friend in Laguna Nigel. Your fave house reminds me (well many of them do)of homes in La Jolla.

  27. I love the modern and mediterranean styles fences and gates! Beautiful!

  28. I loved the New England style house (the one not on the beach) as well as the clean look of the Japanese style entry. I forgot you are on vacation this week! That's why we are having this gorgeous tour! Thanks for including us. Great post!

  29. This was a great tour indeed! I loved looking at the wide variety of architecture, the gardens and entrances of these houses. It is indeed a special corner of the world. This certainly relates to my post this week about entrances.

    Isn't this where Suzanne Somers house was that burned down last year? Thanks for sharing this with us!

  30. What a great tour! The surrounding area is so relaxing.

  31. Some of those properties are stunning! I felt like I was walking with a friend one morning enjoying the scenery. Great entry!

  32. Thanks for doing this beautiful post...I grew up in California a few miles up the coast from Laguna and went to the beach there a lot as a kid! I love the mediterranean architecture, and you are right, it is so very different than here in Atlanta! There is nothing like the southern California coast.

    I would love to meet you for coffee one day!

  33. WOW, I can't even imagine living in the lap of such luxury! Stunning homes and gardens, thanks for sharing.

  34. Wow. It's hard to choose a favorite. I'm leaning towards the cliff house. It looks so interesting. I'd love to see the interior. I'll bet the views are amazing.

    We stayed at the Montage on our last visit. They have cottages in addition to the main hotel. I, like you, was quite impressed with the attention to landscaping. The grounds of the resort we beautiful, as expected--but to see the emphasis placed on the tiny yards! They seem to think of them as "jewel boxes"--small but lovely.
    Thanks for the tour!

  35. It's easy to see why this is one of your favorite places in the world. Looks like paradise to me. Thanks for taking us there for a visit--loved it!

  36. wow, those gardens are spectacular!! I especially love the new england style houses :-)

  37. Are you visiting CA? If so, enjoy the weather because all it has done in Atlanta the past 4 days is rain. I hope to catch up with you one of these days!

    It was fun to meet those fab designer gals..wish you were there!


  38. Those are some serious houses! But, where are the yards?!?!? I like my land :o)

  39. Oh, you know I love a beautiful drive by! Thanks for sharing such amazing houses!!

  40. Funny thing is I have a dream board and on it are pictures of a sea side home at Laguna Beach. One of my visions is to own a home there with my own little studio.
    I loved your post.

  41. I have a favorite house (okay, favorite houses), and they all look like they belong on the east coast. West coast residential architecture is pretty bad across the board (there ARE many exceptions, of course- but on average)...unless, of course, its done really well or looks like east coast arch! haha! I am so sick of the "ranch" houses and the Tuscan/Mediterranean and Spanish look...its enough to make an interior designer/lover of great residential architecture/lover of classic things insane. Laguna Beach is *really* your favorite place in the WORLD?! Really? Oh, the things we all take for granted. I live here in OC...always wishing I were elsewhere. =) Cheers to a fun post!

  42. three arch bay is my neighborhood! my parents live on north encino.


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