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Home Tour: Quiet luxury fills Angela Tesselaar's Emerald Bay home

Photography by Leonard Ortiz
An oil stick on handmade Japanese paper series by Kenneth Feingold provides visual interest.

In her airy Emerald Bay villa overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Angela Tesselaar is the very picture of sophisticated yet approachable elegance. This Laguna Beach interior designer and home decor proprietor is the kind of woman you’ll find with her hair in a neat chignon, diamond stud earrings glistening at her lobes and a Brunello Cucinelli white blouse worn casually.
Her home is situated inconspicuously on the hilltop along a tight curvy street,
not screaming for roadside appeal but rather for privacy in what can be a fishbowl of a gated community. The architectural design of the 2,700-square-foot home is meant
to make maximum use of the snug coastal lot, developed entirely anew from the original footprint of the previous house that occupied the land. Tesselaar and her husband, commercial developer Douglas O’Donnell, sought to create a home that respected the environmental character of the coast while exuding a certain kind of authenticity and humility.
Texas and French limestone, custom woodwork and sun-bleached terra-cotta roof tiles are carefully used to bridge the indoors with the outdoors. The effect? Understated architecture atypical amidst neighboring bold designs.
“For us it’s all about simplicity and authenticity: quality materials with quiet and timeless European detailing. The home is sophisticated yet approachable – a reflection of who we are and how we live,” Tesselaar says. A native Californian, she credits her Dutch heritage for giving her this distinct aesthetic sensibility: “It’s in the genes.”
Tesselaar directed all the interior design for her family’s coast villa, and it’s the ideal showroom for her atelier in downtown Laguna Beach. “I’ve been creating aspirational environments for years with my store and design business,” she says.
Her latest venture, Silver Spoon Staging, is a testament to this, an interior design staging company she started with her best friend, Jessica Frandson. “Far greater than the basic concept of staging, we give a property soul and style, taking decorating to another level. Truly lifestyle at its finest,” she says.
But this space in Emerald Bay is all her own, festooned with the trappings of a savvy designer with an eye for only the most beautiful, minimalist objects. Elegance, for Tesselaar, begins with modern yet thoroughly timeless handcrafted artifacts, displayed sparingly. A lot about her overall aesthetic feels purposeful and chosen more for craftsmanship than to show off opulence as such: Ancient coral planted with moss and mounted currency from New Guinea buffed from large clam shells achieve an effect of harmony amid the architectural environment. “I like a few things, well-chosen,” she says.
Tesselaar studied environmental design at UCLA and worked in fashion at Barneys New York, but says she fell into interior design “by accident” when a friend in New Mexico asked her to help with the interior of a store. From then on, this classic beauty knew her work would always aim for a timeless style. Such style is highlighted in the wide-plank hand-hewn French oak flooring throughout her home and the sink in the guest bath, carved from a block of French limestone. “I am all about the use of quality materials that get better with use and age,” she says.
Each space flows into the next using warm tonalities that exude class all day long. There are two sitting rooms: a den with a cozy, more masculine feel for the men in her life, Douglas and his two sons; and the wide-open great room with tall windows that allow sunlight to pour into every room.
The clean-lined, bulthaup kitchen features all stainless Gaggenau appliances. From this enviable spot guests are always welcomed with a proper margarita made from premium silver tequila, fresh-squeezed lime (from the Mexican lime tree right outside their door) and a splash of Cointreau. Of this Casa O’Donnell staple, Tesselaar says, “It’s all about this perfectly imperfect vibe that makes everyone feel comfortable.”
Which, fittingly, sums up the casa

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