The House Whisperer


Interior Designer Wendi Young weaves a tale of space, floor plan, and client needs for a young family in Newport Beach.

Photo by Karyn Millet

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. 

The side chairs, from Noir, are covered in fabric from Brochier. The leather chair from Ironies. The rug from Ebanista. The draperies were created from fabric found at Rose Tarlow. Photo by Karyn Millet
Photo by Karyn Millet

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.”

The family room sofa is custom. The chair is from Charles Fradin, the side and console tables are from Rose Tarlow, the rug is from Lee Jofa. Photo by Karyn Millet

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.

The barstools, by Charles Fradin are covered in fabric from Rose Tarlow. In the breakfast nook, fabric from Raoul Texiles covers the custom chairs that surround the custom table. Photo by Karyn Millet

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.

A light from Ochre dangles above a custom dining table and chair covered in fabric found at Rose Tarlow; The buffet is from Juxtaposition. Photo by Karyn Millet

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.

Photo by Karyn Millet

“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.”

Photo by Karyn Millet