The Art of Home: Finding harmony for home by ocean

The Realtor knew the home nestled high above Tablerock Beach and Secret Cove in Laguna Beach, with its expansive ocean and canyon views, was special and needed a special design.

Having had success using feng shui to attract buyers in the past, Michael Johnson of Villa Real Estate thought that was the way to go with this house.

With the blue of the water pouring into the kitchen, feng shui expert Donna Hunnicutt felt she had to highlight a fiery palette, so she used coral-colored accessories. The kitchen also was overpowered with metal in the form of an abundance of stainless steel appliances, so orange and red tones would soften the elements’ interaction with each other.

“The views are spectacular, but the idea for me was to bring the outside in with a beachy theme,” Hunnicutt said of the 11-acre estate on Mar Vista Avenue. “Where your eye goes, the energy goes.”

Hunnicutt, who runs Serenity By Design, started as a Realtor in Laguna Niguel. Her interest in feng shui developed when she started reading about it. After studying at Western School of Feng Shui in Encinitas and earning her certification, she spent 14 years introducing the Asian system of creating a harmonious environment in about 100 homes.

At Mar Vista Avenue, Hunnicutt worked with home stager Lisa Ahlke of Coastal Staging to ensure that chi, or cosmic energy, flows freely and brings good fortune to the future residents.

Johnson said the structure’s contemporary architecture, amenities and views make for a one-of-a-kind home.

“It’s a very unique house and it cannot be duplicated,” Johnson said as he stood before a circular table in the estate’s foyer. “With the staging and feng shui, we wanted to tell a story, and here, it’s just so peaceful and functional.”

To reach the home, one must drive a private road that meanders and crosses a wooden bridge. The property is surrounded by a nature preserve; the nearest neighbor is seven miles away.

Within the circular driveway is a round lawn boasting a helicopter pad. The garage can hold 17 cars, a free-standing studio can function as an art or yoga space, and an elevator takes guests to both levels of the home.

Upon walking into the front entryway, visitors can look out a set of double doors to the home’s infinity pool. The landscape design features a fire pit and California native plants.

A chef’s kitchen inside features two butler’s pantries, a breakfast room and a center island for cooking.

One level of the home is dedicated to bedrooms, including a master suite outfitted with a dressing room and spa bath. Three guest suites feature a private terrace leading out to the pool. Two additional rooms could be customized as an indoor gym and a home theater, depending on the future homeowners’ preference.

But the residence needed to strike an emotional chord with a buyer, so the real estate group sought to help buyers envision themselves in the house.

After Ahlke highlighted the features of the home, Hunnicutt was on a quest to help harmonize the property.

Balancing the energies of any given space, she said, will assure health and prosperity for people inhabiting it. Hunnicutt started by evaluating the home, assessing whether the five elements of earth, fire, metal, wood and water were balanced.

Feng shui, she said, is often misunderstood as a mystical way to decorate a home. The ancient art of placement helps people understand how and why it’s beneficial to bring energy flow into environments.

When an external environment makes someone smile, the person is happier internally, and his or her life seems to flow with more ease, she said.

According to the Western School of Feng Shui, the Chinese philosophical system observes the relationship between the seen and unseen forces of nature. Desires, goals, talents, attitudes and feelings within a home constantly interact and influence each other. When a home is blended harmoniously, the effect is friendly, comfortable and positive. Health, prosperity and happiness thrive.

Hunnicutt noted that the ocean, coastal and canyon views well represented the water element.

“The nature views were wonderful, but it needed softening, so I brought in rugs and helped furnish it with window treatments,” Hunnicutt said. “Because it’s a contemporary style, there are a lot of straight lines, so I had to soften those as well with smooth textures.”

To continue the home’s status of power, success and luxury, Hunnicutt took four gold panels and mounted them on a wall near a staircase. The symbol would not only attract prosperity but help balance the staircase’s unsettled, up-and-down energy. To ground it, a visual design such as artwork would serve as a strong frame and express a sense of stability.

Johnson said home staging and the art of implementing feng shui have proved beneficial in his decade of selling homes, helping potential buyers picture a desirable lifestyle.

“If there weren’t interior furnishings, it can feel a bit cavernous here, and then you don’t think of the possibility in each room,” Johnson said. “It always amazes me to see how a space can look when it’s prepared.”

The home, he said, can serve as a residence or a corporate retreat.

The listing price is $14.4 million.

“It was beautiful before,” Hunnicutt said. “But the feng shui makes it harmonized and balanced.”

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