A Newport Beach home designed by Lynn Pries offers a timeless touch of Tahitian art and culture that suits the life, times, and travels of her clients

By Kedric Francis
Photos by Brett Hillyard
Lynn Pries designed the Beacon Bay property with a timeless appeal. The antique spears on the wall are from the homeowners’ collection. Pries re-stained them for display, creating a subtle Polynesian aesthetic carried throughout the home.

Orange County can be a magical place to live. The more one learns about its wonders, the more there is to discover, especially when it comes to choosing where to build or buy a dream house. Most in-the-know locals are aware of the beauty of Beacon Bay, for example, an exclusive Newport Beach enclave of some 72 homes. But who knew that five waterfront properties here are just slightly more perfect than the rest? Designer Lynn Pries knows that, and more. Her deep, unique, and authentic insight is reflected in the Beacon Bay home she created for her clients, as it is in all her projects. 

Lynn designed a built a family home for her parents 25 years ago ndhas had a personal connection to the community ever since. Both her mother and sister still live there, and she has provided design services for many others with homes in the area.

The kitchen includes quartz counters sourced from Venetian Stone Gallery, while select hardware in the home is from The Nanz Company in New York. The walnut floor is reclaimed wood, hand-hewn as it was installed and not sanded flat, so it has a well-aged appeal. “They don’t work with a lot of designers,” Pries says of the flooring firm. “Their work is mostly found in resorts and hotels, and they installed floors at the White House.”
The open and airy main living area opens onto the water, with a view of Harbor Island. The designer added the cubbyholes on the wall, “not even knowing what we would display in them,” she says. “The clients had just what we needed, and it worked… magically.” Brenda, the powerful female figure greeting all who enter the home, was created by a local artist.

Take a tour of the new Beacon Bay home she designed, and one feels her connection to the place, as reflected in the timelessness and beauty of the enclave she created for her clients.

“The special thing about this house is the location,” says Pries. “You can be here any time of the day, and feel calm when you walk in, and you’re drawn to the view of the water. It’s a magical place because of the setting.” The first five homes (including the one owned by her clients) are quieter than all the other houses on the water in Beacon Bay, she explains. The shallow depth of the channel results in the water revealing vibrant turquoise hues at certain times and in certain lights. The more detail-oriented might notice that the homes further along the waterfront have wind blocks on the patios. The understated, Zen-like patio space here needs none, thanks to Harbor Island, perhaps the most valuable windscreen in the world.

The result is a calmer, quieter location, but still with a view of the activity on the harbor, as paddleboarders, kayaks, and small boats glide by.

The architecture and design of the home highlights those rare elements of light, air, and water. The existing house was torn down to the studs, or at least as far as the Coastal Commission allows, and a new one built in its place, but one would never know it. “We wanted the house to feel like it was an historic house, an older house that had been refreshed a little,” she says. “But not a brand-new build.”

I want my clients to feel like this is their dream home, so we curated and displayed art and objects they’ve collected on their travels. We wove in a select few antiques and custom pieces as well. This creates a more meaningful and memorable atmosphere than if we just bought all new things.

— Lynn Pries

“Timeless” is a design description that is perhaps over-used but is an entirely appropriate way to describe the house Lynn Pries created and curated for her clients. In the 1940s, the client’s father owned the most famous bar in Tahiti, and the couple has often traveled to the islands, as well as around the world.

The bedroom suite includes a work space with the clients’ books and photographs, a favorite work of art by Millard Sheets, and offers stunning views of the harbor and islands.
The second floor suite features art and antiques from Antonio’s Bella Casa on Old Newport Boulevard, chairs sourced from Nicholson’s of Laguna Antiques, a Rose Tarlow chandelier, and hand-woven rugs from Marc Phillips in Los Angeles.

Pries gathered and curated their art, antiques, and artifacts for display, adding in complimentary pieces she selected or had custom-made, including many from local artists and artisans.

There is warm and perfectly worn wood throughout, including hand-hewn walnut floors, antique closet doors, and an antique Moroccan wedding chest. There are hand-woven rugs and antique furniture refinished in vintage fabrics. Every room has unique, often stunningly beautiful details. One bathroom features a chopped limestone floor reminiscent of a sandy beach.

The owners had a home in Emerald Bay with brown shingles, so Pries brought that aesthetic to this home, “and they love it,” she says. The result is a California take on classic East Coast Nantucket, which fits seamlessly into existing Beacon Bay architecture.
Pries designed the patio to be simple and serene. Unlike many homes on the water, there’s no need for a wind guard, so the patio opens onto the beach in front and water beyond. She used Ipe wood on the deck, and “landscaping-wise we kept it more of a Zen feel,” she says, an aesthetic introduced in the front courtyard that features two 40-year-old Bonzai trees. 

Still, with all the attention to detail, there is a serenity and simplicity to the interiors of the home. “I kept things pretty simple,” Pries says. “I like to use quality things to get it just right, rather than clutter things up.” The designer is renowned for the deep dives she takes on each project, including exhaustively researching the history of the periods and places reflected in the homes, from luxurious Tuscan-style estates to historic Laguna Beach cottages, including the one she works from.

“I’ve been really fortunate to have amazing clients,” Pries says, and she takes pride in what she created for the Beacon Bay couple. “They have homes in Telluride and Carmel, and this may be the last home they build. I wanted it to be perfect.”  

Lynn Pries Design and Build | | [email protected] | Office: 949.549.1900 | Cell: 949.280.0893

M Carole McElwee, Landscape Design  | [email protected]

CP McClary Custom Construction  | | 714.271.1055

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