Succulents grace the coffee table.
Creating a light-filled
living space was key to
interior designer Anne-
Marie Claassen’s goals
for her home’s “California
SoundThe gallery will resume inseconds
Raising the living room
ceiling and using a
white palette allows the
Claassens to change
things up with pillow
colors and textures.
Plenty of storage space (and display spots for beloved toys) make the Claassen boys happy to
have their mother’s “family friendly” design in their bedrooms.
When interior designer Anna-Marie Claassen and her attorney husband Brian bought their new home in Corona del Mar’s Cameo Highlands, the pair already had long-term goals for that one-story, three-bedroom house.
“We have a plan. It’s probably in years, but we bought this house because we love the lot,” Claassen explains as she sits in their sunny living room.
In fact, when the couple and their 7- and 9-year-old sons moved into the 2,400-square-foot house in July 2017, they immediately made some changes, like redoing the living room. “The living space had a scalloped ceiling, and it was a very ornate, dark wood – I would say traditional, maybe Italianate, with a heavy mantelpiece,” Claassen recalls. “We pushed the ceiling up a little, tiny bit. We kept the fireplace box, but modernized it.”
They also removed another fireplace in the area beyond the kitchen and painted the interiors white, creating an office for her Anthology Interiors design firm and playroom space for when the boys get home from school. “It’s a big living space,” she says, “The house is really about the brightness and the lot. There’s plenty of land for us to expand. Eventually.”
Each son has his own room, and there’s not only a swimming pool in the backyard, but space for an enclosed trampoline. The family dog is happy as well, as the big black lab/shepherd mix loves the large front yard. But he’d better not get used to that, since the Claassens are planning some major construction, designed to keep them in the home and the neighborhood they already love for years to come.
“We bought this because we love the lot. There’s a partial ocean view. There’s tons of room to expand. There’s only one story allowed in this neighborhood, but what we love about this neighborhood is people are being really innovative and going down, people are going into basements or digging in their garage. We love a one-story floor plan in general, but this gave us a lot of room to push out,” Claassen explains.
The long-term plan includes elements that stay within the community’s HOA regulations, including a full renovation of the master bedroom/bathroom, which at the moment doesn’t include a walk-in closet. “We’re working with an architect now, but we think we will do a great big master, with a new bathroom, new closet,” she says. Then she adds, giddily: “We can turn this whole section into another bedroom. The third bedroom would stay and then turn the other bedroom into a laundry room. Then, we can push that wall way out and we can expand the house. It’s hopefully a five-year, maybe 10-year plan. We’re going to just totally reconfigure everything!”
Until that happens, however, the Claassen family will enjoy the comfortable, “California cool” interior design that reflects the taste and style she offers her Anthology clients. “That’s what I call this eclectic mix of midcentury modern and family-friendly stuff. I do a lot of family-friendly decorating; that’s kind of my top focus every time I meet with a client. We do a lot of indoor/outdoor fabrics inside, for example.”
That’s reflected in her own home, with an oversize white sectional sofa dominating the living room. “It’s covered with an indoor/outdoor, really washable fabric,” Claassen insists. “Kids and dogs — they just take over. But with a blank slate of white walls and washable white sofa, you can bring in a lot of interesting color and textures with textiles, pillows and everything. The neutral palette allows you to do that, even if you have kids and dogs who are going to make a mess all over the place.”
One thing that may change as the family reconfigures the house for the long run is the flooring, which is travertine. Claassen has a whole different look in mind, especially as her boys head into their teenage years.
“I love concrete floors,” the interior designer and mom reveals. “Personally, right now, that’s my favorite. You can throw awesome rugs on top of it, and it really goes with the modern look, and you can mix things in with it. And it lets the kids do all sorts of stuff all over the floors that you wouldn’t necessarily let them do on a marble or wooden floor. Kids can roll their bikes all over the place and things like that. It’s just generally really user-friendly.”
With the long-term plan in motion, it seems obvious the Claassen family is going to make Cameo Highlands its permanent home. After all, as Anna-Marie Claassen reveals, it really is as much about the neighborhood as it is about the house.
“We love the ocean views we have, the ocean access and we love Corona del Mar. The beaches are amazingly gorgeous; they’re rocky with tide pools and the beautiful arches and the caves. I can see staying here for a long time.” ■
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