Known throughout the Los Angeles region for his unprecedented approach to residential and commercial architecture, DEX Studio’s Glen Bell celebrates his esteemed Newport Coast residential work for famed restaurateur Javier Vasquez. This Newport Coast residence is recognized for the illustrious designs led by Bell and his team of expert artists and landscape architects.
Bell worked with Vasquez from early inception to establish the most important characteristics of the home – all for the purposes of entertaining groups of people both indoors and outdoors in reflection of his close-knit family of restaurateurs and their lively social traditions. Growing up around commercial kitchens through his family’s restaurant business, Vasquez always understood that kitchens are truly the heart of the business, and translated the same philosophy in his collaboration with Bell.
To realize this vision, the home kitchen was to embrace seamless indoor/outdoor living, facilitating the rest of the house to follow suit. Bell emphasized handcrafting in the cement block wall and the woodwork throughout the home, such as wood in unexpected areas like the underside of the roof and decking, translating to a softness to the modern look that Vasquez wanted to convey from the outside to the inside and maintaining a sense of community with the neighborhood. This was further illustrated through the façade’s strong geometric lines and use of color, balanced by subtle landscaping that includes drought-resistant landscaping, a koi pond, and a custom-designed water feature that channels water through linear slots – a visual and auditory feature that welcomes people from the street to the front yard and eventually into the home.
On the first floor, the kitchen, dining area, media room, game room, and office create a U-shape that opens to the outdoor space. One story up, the master suite, a series of three bedrooms and the roof garden navigate around the courtyard to take advantage of the light and cool breezes. To organize the space and unite interior and exterior spaces, Bell devised a central courtyard that separates public and private zones, filters natural light throughout the interior, and cools the surrounding rooms. The courtyard is ideal for entertaining family and guests, as it features a pool, spa, fire pit, built-in benches, barbeque area, and bar. Following DEX’s aesthetic, Bell added garden spaces outside the sliding doors and on a visible 1st story roof deck, a custom-designed cement-block wall that acts as the backdrop to a series of screening plants, and a sunscreen made of twisted white and chocolate vinyl strap. Both stories feature a large expanse of floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors that face the courtyard.
Opposite the U-shaped kitchen is the dining area and its focal point—an expansive fireplace. To anchor the space, DEX designed a fireplace that provides a transition space between the entry and media room. Stacked brick floats over a long polished concrete hearth that stores firewood, leading into the media room that contains elaborate dark walnut millwork. The arrangement of shelves and cabinets showcase Vasquez’s collectables and discreetly hide all media components.
The courtyard bar’s connects to the elevated, eat-in kitchen through a series of counter-height sliding windows, allowing guests sitting at the outdoor bar to remain physically connected with those inside. The arrangement works well for anyone cooking because they are not separated from the outside activities. The kitchen’s oversized stainless sink is a modern play on the farmhouse sink, perfect for the many dishes needed when the family is in town. The center island is unusual: with two long islands – one made of Caesarstone, the other, of stainless steel – placed back to back. Cork was used on the floor to make the kitchen user-friendly, while bamboo was used for the rest of the house.
Beyond the variety of visible design elements, DEX also sought to minimize the home’s footprint by designing it to be energy efficient. Since the lot receives strong Southern sun, Bell designed a variety of passive cooling techniques to reduce the home’s mechanical cooling needs. To keep sunlight from overheating the home during the day, Bell developed a series of overhangs and sunscreens to prevent solar heat gain. The home also uses thermal mass to reduce cooling requirements, as DEX designed the back patio to include concrete with insulating aggregates. With the addition of the aggregates, the concrete becomes more thermally conductive, retarding heat flow from the home’s exterior into the interior during the day. Inside the home DEX created natural ventilation systems to utilize the coastal breezes that sweep through the neighborhood. Above the double height staircase there is an electronically operated skylight that releases hot air when open, creating an immediate cooling effect. Beyond passive cooling techniques, the site is also ready for solar panel installation, which will serve to make the home even more energy efficient.
This ambitious Newport Coast endeavor, which showcases DEX’s signature handcrafted, modern aesthetic, has certainly set the bar for modern Orange County homes. With signature homes and commercial properties in the works for 2018 and beyond, DEX continues to set the standard for warm, modern spaces that combine thoughtful design with coastal living.
About DEX Studio:
Based in Venice, DEX Studio is a multidisciplinary design studio founded in 1999 by Glen Bell that designs projects ranging from private homes, multi-unit residential properties and offices to restaurants, bars and retail spaces. Over the past fifteen years, DEX has completed projects throughout Southern California that animate and examine the relationship between the built form and surrounding community. Evidenced in the careful attention to craftsmanship and the Studio’s progressive vision, DEX creates environments that translate warmth and humanity along a contemporary continuum. www.studiodex.com
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