What does bold, graphic modern design look like when it’s softened up for cozy livability? It might look something like this farmhouse in Newport Beach, which epitomizes the laid-back hipness of West Coast style. If you’re not from coastal California, farmhouses set near the beach may sound like a contradiction, but they’re actually pretty common, mixing a sense of breeziness with traditional features and layouts. “Windward” by interior designer Raili Clasen and architect Eric Olsen is chock-full of eye-catching contemporary details that really make it feel like home for clients Chris and Heather Lewis and their three children.
On the whole, farmhouses are spacious and practical, containing both formal and informal spaces and emphasizing a connection to the outdoors. “Windward” checks all of those boxes, but instead of feeling folksy, it’s fresh and current, infused with the stylish sensibilities Clasen picked up during her time in the surf-fashion industry, when she worked for brands like Quiksilver and Paul Frank.
Exposed beams stretch across the barn-like living room, but they’re painted white, blending seamlessly with vertical wooden cladding, pale floors, and an entire wall that opens up to a swimming pool outside. In fact, wood is everywhere in the home, but Clasen mixes and matches species, colors, and finishes to keep things interesting, painting some of it a deep dramatic navy or installing it on a diagonal for a sense of dynamic movement.
The home’s L-shaped footprint opens up several sight lines across the sunny yard and makes it feel easy to move freely through the interiors. French doors, balconies, and windows usher in natural light and enhance the feeling that the swimming pool is the true heart of the house.
Color has been kept to a minimum to allow the oversized graphic elements to really shine. When a vivid hue does pop up, as in a pair of coral lamp cords, it’s a welcome touch. Details like warm cognac leather chairs, wooden cutting boards, plentiful plants, and scenic wallpaper (including a striking dark floral print by Ellie Cashman Design in the bathroom) also work in harmony with the minimalist color scheme.
Choosing just the right accessories and playing with scale are two of Clasen’s specialties, but you won’t find any stuffy sculptures or inaccessible modern art here. The designer favors using functional objects like bicycles, skateboards, and surfboards as decor, along with playful lettered signs. Customization is king, she says, noting that she prefers to modify most decorative elements herself rather than incorporate them as they are.
In keeping with the overall vibe, glitz and glamor has also been kept to a minimum, with metallic elements appearing here and there to offset the easy beauty of each room. Delicate golden pendant lamps hover in front of a massive Swiss cross in the living room, and brassy fixtures play up the texture of the wood in the bathrooms.
Outside, matte black gabled volumes contrast with stacked rustic Texas limestone for an eclectic look. Olsen wanted Windward to look less like a new construction and more like a historic house that was built piece-by-piece over time, evolving with each new addition. Bursting with fun, brightness, and cool California spirit, the “Windward” house is truly one of a kind.