The House WhispererAuthor:Abigail Stone
Interior Designer Wendi Young weaves a tale of space, floor plan, and client needs for a young family in Newport Beach.
Interior designer Wendi Young is used to people thinking she’s a little crazy when she shares that her approach to design is to listen to what a house wants. “Of course, the aesthetic is driven by the architecture, the floor plan, and the client’s desired outcome, but if one really pays attention, a house will tell you what it wants,” she says.
In the case of this Newport Beach house, it was clear that its first desire was for a little love and tenderness. The dated Craftsman-style home had been neglected for many years. “It was in dire need of a facelift,” Young shares. So she got to work. “We reconfigured the kitchen, remodeled two bathrooms, added some architectural detailing and custom millwork, painted the entire house…and then furnished it.”
While the process is never as easy as slotting in a few pieces and calling it a day, in this case, the challenge was in the form of a concert grand piano. A gift to the newly married couple from the groom’s parents, it had been signed and dated by the various pianists who’d played it. “I knew grand pianos were big but this one was huge,” says Young. She also needed to take the client’s burgeoning art collection into account.
With music as the centerpiece of the client’s lives, Young turned the living room into a music room. Instead of slotting it into a corner, she allowed it to take center stage. Chairs from Noir, covered in fabric from Brochier, a leather chair from Ironies, a rug from Ebanista and draperies created from fabric found at Rose Tarlow highlight the gleaming Steinway. The family room, with its custom sectional, doubles as the home’s living room.
Music wasn’t the only thing that commanded the clients’ attention; the couple was also pregnant with their twin sons when the project began. Young opened up the kitchen to accommodate the growing family. With an island that doubles as a space to eat and the room’s partnership with the nearby breakfast nook, its a spot for parents, children and grandparents to enjoy.
“It may have been new mother tears,” says Young, “but the wife cried when she first saw the home completed and the husband couldn’t stop grinning.” Now it’s clear the home is filled with love, with twins running throughout and the husband constantly tweaking things — art, a sound system, lighting controls. “They both love their home and look forward to their children growing up there,” says Young, “It’s why I do what I do.”