Seaside Grotto: A Spectacular, Whimsical Hideaway Fit for a Mermaid

The Ultimate O.C. Home Tour
Seaside Grotto: A Spectacular, Whimsical Hideaway Fit for a Mermaid
above The orientation of outside terraces, which include a heated spa and cold plunge, provides privacy. 1 The entry, with flowing creek, leads to the living room and the view beyond

Photograph by Jeri Koegel

South_Coast_Highway_31107_xf_nightFOR SALE! Asking $12 million

Laguna Beach

Bedrooms 3 Baths 3
Amenities An 800-bottle wine cellar and beachfront terraces with spa and waterfall. The built-in furnishings were created by interior designer Annie Speck, fiancee of the house’s late owner, software magnate Dennis Morin, who commissioned the house.


The aptly named oceanfront Rock House is a South Laguna landmark. The home is nestled into a huge excavated boulder at the mouth of Aliso Creek. From the street, the house blends into the rock formations on each side—there are even boulder pieces on the home’s concrete rooftop. The 3,000 square feet flow whimsically. Rooms curve. A creek runs through the entry level, where flooring is faux stone. Abalone shells sparkle in the black terrazzo floor of the circular kitchen, and glass embellishments replicate the texture of a mermaid’s tailfins. Another creation of Brion Jeannette Architecture, the 1996 steel-and-glass residence’s other nautical nods include rippling handrails with alternating etched glass and stainless-steel sea patterns, and curved walls and ceilings painted in muted turquoise shades. Two bedrooms and a media/family room, which can be made into a third bedroom, are downstairs. Walk through the sliding doors on the lower floor and the sand is just steps away.

Telegenic Qualities
The Rock House has been featured on a number of real estate-themed programs this year. Among them: HGTV’s “15 Most Amazing Homes,” CNN’s “Money,” Qatar TV’s “Design,” and NBC New York’s “Open House.”

How It Made Waves
Built in 1996, the Rock House survived political battles with the California Coastal Commission, the city, environmentalists, and preservationists. It’s both an engineering feat and an environmental trendsetter; topsoil and native plant material that were removed during construction were nurtured offsite and later returned to their original locations.

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