Stunning modern house opens into two-story courtyard in Southern California


Eric Olsen Design created this stunning modern house as his personal family home, located in Corona del Mar, California. The architect purchased this property a few years back when it came on the market, seeing the potential of what it could become. After living in the home for two-and-a-half years with his family, they decided to tear the home down and rebuild. Taking 19-months to complete, the finished aesthetic is simply stunning.

At first glance, this family home of five appears just like the surrounding homes in the neighborhood. The single-story facade welcomes you with a wooden gate that creates privacy. As the door swings open, you are greeted by a breathtaking sunken, two-story courtyard. This outdoor space features a fire pit, native plantings and dramatic hanging globe lamps that are directly at eye level, and beyond to the Pacific Ocean.


The original property faced a side yard instead of taking advantage of the magnificent ocean view, which the architect quickly worked to correct. In the new design, a U-shaped layout wraps around a central courtyard, with floor-to-ceiling windows throughout. The architect worked to maximize living spaces while creating transparency conducive to their lifestyle needs.


In order to create this soaring 20-foot high courtyard, the project team had to dig down 11-feet for the foundation. The flooring is reclaimed terra-cotta tiles. Outdoor Furniture: Sofa and armchairs – Restoration Hardware. Wicker chairs: Sutherland Furniture. Tables: Teak Warehouse. A coastal evergreen tree called the New Zealand Christmas Tree creates a backdrop against the wall.


When you walk in through the front entryway, you instantly hear the sound of the water from this spectacular fountain. A feature wall was designed by the architecture. It is a layering of stucco, cedar, and limestone. The water spout is antique.


Living spaces feel connected from all vantage points, so the parents can watch over their three daughters. The color palette uses varying shades of gray yet for their girls, pops of color was added throughout. Views through to the courtyard showcase the Rattan Globe light fixtures from Inner Gardens.


What We Love: This stunning modern house offers its inhabitants warm and welcoming living spaces that are ideal for family living. We especially love how the house is unassuming from the front facade and opens into this beautiful courtyard. Large windows not only invites natural light inside but allows the homeowners to enjoy the views of the Pacific Ocean. 

Tell Us: What do you think of the overall layout of this home that is built around a central courtyard? If this was your home, is there anything you would have done differently in the design? Please share your thoughts in the Comments!

Note: Have a look at a couple of our favorite home tours that we have featured here on One Kindesign from the portfolio of Eric Olsen Design: Modern farmhouse style tastefully decorated in Newport Beach and Chic modern farmhouse in Newport Beach with emphasis on entertaining.



In the dining room, the architect selected playful light fixtures, sourced from Caravaggio by Cecilie Manz for Fritz Hansen. Dining Table: 503 Found. Dining Chairs: Four Hands, with custom velvet cushions by Michael Walters Style.


Illuminating the kitchen island, the light fixture is by Eric Olsen for Buzzell Studios. On the backsplash, Heath Ceramics – blue tile and Clé – gray tile. The vent hood is custom designed by the architect. The bar chairs are from Four Hands.

Interesting Fact: When the architect received the gray tiles, he opened the box with the backside of the tiles showing. The texture was visually interesting, so they installed them with the backs facing out.


Above: The powder bath offers a very unique wallcovering. It is a movie script by the architect’s best friend who is a screenwriter. It was also a surprise to his friend, who got a copy from his wife. He invited them over for dinner one night and told him to have a look in the bathroom!

How to DIY Wallpaper:

1. Select A Material. In this case, a manuscript.

2. Add Character. The architect spilled coffee onto some of the pages to give them an antique look.

3. Add Adhesive. To adhere them to the wall, the architect used shellack. The pages serve double-duty as reading material!


In the hallway, the wooden flooring is French Oak, Warren Christopher Fine Floor Coverings. Walls are painted in Black Magic, Sherwin-Williams.


Above: The master bedroom of this stunning modern house has a loft-like feel courtesy of a reclaimed brick wall. Above the Lawson-Fenning tufted headboard are wall sconces sourced from Allied Maker. Wall art by Hal­verson Frazier. Accent pillows and throw: Jenni Kayne.




In the master bathroom, the tub is by Hydro Systems, while the fixtures are Waterworks.


In the master bathroom, an indoor-outdoor shower highlights views of the Pacific Ocean. The door is from Euroline Steel Windows.




James Goldcrown hand-painted the mural on the wall of the daughter’s bunk bedroom. Colorful throw: Vitra. Bunk beds designed by the architect and built by H&J Cabinets.



The homeowner’s 12-year-old daughter requested a platform bed, so the architect designed one for her. He included built-in storage drawers and an attached deck, custom-built by H&J Cabinets. The white faux fir chair is from Urban Outfitters, while the throw pillows on the bed are from Target and Restoration Hardware. On the deck, the art print is by Chasing Paper. Grounding the space is an area rug from Silk Road Rug, Inc.





When the three daughters have friends over, this beautifully finished basement is where they like to hang-out. The ping pong table is by Jory Brigham Design, while the ottomans are from Target. The colorful artwork is by William DeBilzan.




The pool loungers are from Teak Warehouse, covered with a Sunbrella fabric. Throw pillows are from Restoration Hardware.


Photos: Karyn Millet Photography

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Sue Nayden
4 years ago

I think this is one of my favorites – he did a beautiful job!

Maureen Simons
4 years ago

Truly uniquely beautiful home. Original and inspiring. Can you tell me the artist who painted the works above the bed in the MBR? Thanks