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C At Home

House Tour: Inside a Sun-Drenched Newport Beach Abode

Southern California design firm Bonesteel Trout Hall brings coastal cool to Orange County

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of C Home.

Pacific Palisades-based designers Heidi Bonesteel, Michele Trout and Jill Hall are known for their stylistic mastery of laid-back glamour. Born and raised in Southern California, the designers’ spaces balance relaxed airiness with unexpected, modern touches for results imbued with seemingly effortless cool—not unlike the women themselves. (They’re those girlfriends who know the right surf spots, farmers markets, and buzzy city restaurants and boutiques.) “Our office is a tree house with ocean views, so nature really inspires us,” says Bonesteel. “But we’re 10 miles from downtown, so there’s that urban culture influence, too.”

Bonesteel and Trout drew upon their signature aesthetic for their most recent project: a luminous Newport Beach home for a family of eight. A dynamic couple with six children under the age of 10, the clients have collaborated with the designers for years. “We’ve done homes for them in Aspen, in Michigan and here in Southern California,” says Trout. “We’ve grown up together.”

The home’s decidedly traditional exterior belies the bold, beautiful design inside. “They like us to create something different every time,” Bonesteel says. While pushing boundaries was essential, the space is at its core a bustling family hub. “The design has to perform,” says Trout. “With six kids, it’s a very active house. We get that, as we lead that life as well.”

Just minutes from the beach and wrapped inside a greenway, the house takes full advantage of the California sunshine with towering steel-framed windows in every room. “They are super affected by light,” says Bonesteel of her clients. “We weren’t allowed to cover the windows at all. The curtains take up only a quarter-inch on either side.”

Industrial elements recur throughout, from steel railings to plastered brick walls. “The materials are raw and beautiful, not really fancied up a lot,” Trout says. “The decorating is almost like a backdrop to the nature and the architecture itself.”

Form and function were fundamental when curating the home’s furniture and accessories, too. “The design has more of an androgynous beat to it,” says Trout, “which is part of making the house work for kids. There’s not a lot of extra things. The only furniture is what you actually need.”

Because the clients favor a tight color palette (“There’s actually only one shade of blue they like,” jokes Trout), personality and punch come courtesy of bold midcentury lines, dramatic lighting and graphic Moroccan tile. And then there’s the art.

Like their relationship with Bonesteel Trout Hall, the clients have long worked with Lake Forest-based art consultant Anne Mennealy, who loves to showcase California artists. “They’re always open to the unexpected,” says Mennealy. “They love artwork that ‘owns’ the room.” Two such high-impact examples: a three-story twisted-rope installation along the stairs and a wall sculpture composed of romance novels that spell “Forever.” It seems the family bond as well as the design union grows stronger with each home. “They both care; they will stand up for what they like,” says Bonesteel. “That’s a great relationship.” 

Photography by KARYN R. MILLET.

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