Laguna Beach Home as a Living Legacy

A wife and mother leaves her mark on her family’s modern Three Arch Bay masterpiece
Laguna Beach Home as a Living Legacy
The bar area, left, opens to an elevated front garden planted with giant agave.

Interior_14HMark Hammond and his wife, Christina, were finally living in their dream home when she suddenly passed away in October. Since then, the house they spent eight years designing and building has become a living legacy for him and their four children. “Her touch is everywhere,” he says.

The journey started 10 years ago while they were living in Monarch Bay and someone knocked on their door to make  an offer on their oceanfront home. “We really weren’t interested,” says Hammond, CEO of The Retail Equation. He made up an astronomical price, thinking that would be the end it. A week later the broker agreed. “I thought Christina would kill me,” he recalls with a laugh.

She readily forgave him when they found an even better property on a trio of lots in nearby Three Arch Bay, a 1932 home set on a rocky promontory with its own saltwater tide pool and private beach. In addition, the property had an unheard-of 200-foot setback from the street to the home, as well as an existing guesthouse. A day after visiting the home, they were in escrow.

Although the serendipitous sale of the houses went smoothly in 2005, the couple was to spend the next eight years involved in the project. Newport Beach architect Christian Light drew up plans and shepherded the home through the labyrinthine approval process of the Three Arch Bay Homeowners Association, the City of Laguna Beach Design Review Board, the Coastal Commission, and the Laguna Beach Building Division.

Nemo’s sculptural Crown Major chandelier adds panache to the sleek Boffi kitchen.Building the home had other challenges. Chief among them: shoring up the two-story structure with beams to pour a new foundation and implant 20 caissons into the steep hillside. The home was taken down to the studs, and the spaces reconfigured. Architectural designer Arianna Noppenberger of Aria Design Inc. took the lead on the interior appointments of the stunning, modern home that features an open-plan layout oriented to the ocean and a central, wind-sheltered courtyard.

Her sophisticated interiors, with minute attention to detail, use the finest materials: Crema Pearl Limestone, engineered brushed-and-fumed oak floors, Ocean Silver travertine, and Calcutta marble walls and countertops. In the master bedroom, an upholstered wall of embroidered white linen adds warmth. Throughout the minimalist interior, a mix of Eurostyle furniture, sculptural lights, and Noppenberger’s custom pieces are set against a soothing seashore palette of sand, mother of pearl, and pebble gray.

It’s also a home imbued with all the bells and whistles. A sleek Boffi kitchen with adjacent pantry hides myriad small appliances, de rigueur for the orderly Christina, a New Orleanian who loved to cook Cajun food for family and friends. A poker-wine room overlooks the home theater where a drape draws back to reveal Mark’s museum-garage filled with his 1950s and ’60s racing bikes and prized Ferrari 458.

Finally, when it came time for accessorizing, Christina took the lead, jumping into her Honda pickup, making many trips to L.A. to bring back art and other objects, including the 100-plus pound tree-roots sculpture that resides in the foyer. “She didn’t stop,” says Noppenberger, “until she got the perfect piece … she brought her whole passion to the project.”

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