Step inside the light, airy home of Catharina and Andrew Gerken, and you are instantly transported to an elegant “tree house” rising above the surrounding lush landscape. The salty Corona del Mar, California, breezes linger, and the serene ocean can be seen on the horizon when the floor-to-ceiling windows and a retractable glass wall are opened.
The two-story, five-bedroom home’s bones, designed by Brandon Architects, are clearly innovative and distinctly modern — but the materials and décor bring it back down to earth and lend an inviting feel often lacking in sleek spaces.
Credit the balance to Paige Hill of Ultra-Mod Home Concepts, who selected all finishes and enlisted Cantoni design consultant Shand Alexander to collaborate on the décor. Call them a dream team: the two have a history of working together to transform spaces. “Paige is a high-energy, creative, out-of-the-box designer who is always fun to work with,” Shand says.
The design duo’s most recent collaboration began when Paige took the Gerkens on a shopping trip to Cantoni in Irvine. Catharina, who is Swedish, immediately resonated with the clean-lined furnishings and accessories. “She said, ‘I could buy everything in the store,” Paige says.
From there, it was simply a process of elimination, Shand says. Over the 16-month building process, he worked with the Gerkens to furnish the house piece-by-piece, sourcing most of the artwork, sculptures lighting, furniture, rugs and textiles to reflect the homeowners’ personalities. “The Gerkens are comfortable and humble,” Shand says. “When you walk through the home, it is cozy, practical, and doesn’t feel too clinical.”
Key pieces included the Thomas barstools, Toro side chairs, glass-topped Brenda dining table, “C” console table, Flow cocktail table and a plethora of sculptures and beautiful hide rugs. “It’s crazy how you can furnish an entire home from Cantoni,” Paige says, adding that she and Shand have a synergistic relationship. “He suggests things, can draw a furniture layout, and makes it easy to get samples, materials and images. He’s very communicative.”
Shand targeted his searches to infuse vibrancy and find furnishings that helped blend the indoors with out — seamlessly. “I love working with color and trying to find something different and unique,” Shand says.
The end result is exactly that: incomparable.