High FiveAuthor:Abigail Stone
In a Corona del Mar house filled with her favorite pieces, Wendi Young finally found her forever home
The tiny bungalow, located in the flower streets of Corona del Mar’s Village, is the fifth home that interior designer Wendi Young and her husband have lived in together. “I start to get antsy and need the inspiration of a new space,” she says, citing the reason behind their many moves. While they’ve “had big houses that are very high maintenance with lots of staff,” here the operative word was easy: “I wanted something easy to live in and easy to take care of.”
The white stucco exterior and green metal roof reminded her of homes she’d once seen in the South African countryside and had been obsessing over. “It made me think that this house belonged to me somehow.” Built in 1947, it underwent a remodel in 2010 that added a second-floor loft consisting of a primary suite and a large terrace. The previous owner spent a lot of time on boats so “the house was built out like a ship,” Young recalls. Wood framing arched over the second-floor deck; the kitchen was nearly empty; the bathrooms were spare with small sinks; and storage was minimal. But Young saw potential in the structure’s strong bones and compact layout.
She needed little prompting to shoulder a remodel. “Every house we’ve owned, we either built it from the ground up or we completely remodeled it,” she says. “It’s a compulsion.” The two bathrooms were gutted and turned into “proper bathrooms with cabinetry, showers with a glass enclosures and wallpaper”—a Kelly Wearstler design upstairs and a CW Stockwell pattern on the main floor. A wooden wall was erected on the primary bedroom’s terrace, providing privacy. The staircase was redone, doors and windows were replaced, the plumbing was updated, new light fixtures were installed and the old hardware was swapped out for new designs. “I guess I did a lot,” she laughs.
But it’s in the home’s kitchen where her work shines. “Kitchens are my thing,” says Young. “I love to design them. I love to organize them.” Taking inspiration from her experience working with bespoke cabinetry made in the U.K. and Germany, the room’s cupboards, which sit off the ceiling rather than extending all the way up, accentuate the room’s open rafter design and gracefully connect it to the living and morning rooms that bookend it. “Because they read like furniture, it feels a little more decorative and a little less utilitarian,” she explains.
The home’s furnishings, most of which were culled from her previous home, are a mix of vintage and antique finds from all around the world. “Everything has a story or stirs me in some way,” she says. “There isn’t anything here just for the sake of needing something to fill a spot.” And despite its compact size, the home lives big; Young and her husband use every inch of it. “Maybe it’s because this is really just all you need,” she says, “I’m thinking this might be our last house.” Whatever the future holds, for right now, it’s home sweet home.