Meet the fresh faces redefining Laguna Beach home design aesthetics.
By Tanya A. Yacina
Step into the world of restyled home spaces with some of the newest interior designers in Laguna Beach. These creative visionaries bring a fresh perspective to interior aesthetics, infusing their unique perspective into the projects they undertake.
Laura Pavlovich / Ashley Armour
Therese Carmel Bespoke Interiors
In 2020, Laura Pavlovich, founder and design principal of Therese Carmel Bespoke Interiors, moved the atelier to Laguna Beach after renovating the interior of the historic Forest Avenue building where the design firm is located. She and her daughter, Ashley Armour, work together to provide full-service interior design for both new construction and remodels. The firm offers innovative interiors, custom-designed furniture as well as antiques, one-of-a-kind accessories and unique textiles.
From the overall vision to final installation, the duo bring “a couture level of attention” to all projects. And, with a high commitment to quality, Pavlovich and Armour carefully manage each step in the process. Previously based in Rancho Santa Fe, California, they moved north to Laguna Beach right before the pandemic.
“I have always loved the inspiration and ever-changing beauty of living by the sea,” Pavlovich says. “And, very importantly, my children and precious grandbabies live nearby, so locating here seemed like the perfect place.”
Pavlovich says a home should reflect who someone is and bring them joy. Her firm takes a fresh approach to each project, creating bespoke spaces that are at once modern and timeless.
“We believe that truly excellent interior design is a collaborative art form, and that there is a partnership between the interior designer and the client, as well as with the architect, builder and landscape architect,” she explains.
Pavlovich and Armour recently transformed a 1936 cottage in Lower Three Arch Bay, keeping within its original footprint. While some may have chosen to tear down this structure, Pavlovich wanted to bring back the past elegance of the home and opted for a “down-to-the-studs remodel,” rearranged the rooms, refinished the original floors and updated with quality material and detail for a refresh of the space. The old wall paneling was replaced with newly milled, solid wood planks that were painted white and feature “nickel gap” spacing. The ceilings and many furnishings are also white, adding to an airy feel when combined with plenty of windows that bathe the home in natural light. (theresecarmel.com)
La Casa Azul Design
Juaneice Munoz, La Casa Azul Design’s CEO and principal designer, celebrated the grand opening of her firm’s new location and design showroom in town this past summer. Munoz has always loved the sense of community in Laguna, so when she decided to move her company from Ladera Ranch to the coast, this was the obvious choice. And Munoz brings a broad background with her.
“Over the years, I have worked with architects, custom home builders [and] landscape architects to create a home sanctuary for our clients,” Munoz says. “In a previous career, I worked in home finance and risk assessment. My experience in this area has added value to our clientele and what improvements will add the most value to their homes.”
Munoz says with each project, her full-service firm has a dual focus: Will this improve the client’s home value and their lifestyle?
“Our first approach is to understand the needs of the client,” she says. “… My first priority is to understand this as if it were my home and my goals I want to achieve.”
Munoz explains that she then follows design principles to create a balanced layout, but a design is only as good as its execution, so her team works as long as it takes to ensure the desired outcome—whether it’s a remodel or new construction. She offers concierge-style service, including construction documents, project management, furniture, decor and more. La Casa Azul also offers space planning, complete with a color palette and furnishings, as well as architectural plan consulting for those seeking hand-crafted results.
Clients have included executives, entrepreneurs, professional athletes and other celebrities. Recently, she worked with a client who wanted to update the look of her kitchen and “make it look special.”
“This client was family-oriented and really loved to cook and entertain guests,” Munoz says. “She trusted me to design a kitchen that had no upper cabinets, … but was very efficient and useful for someone who cooks and uses their kitchen a lot. We used function and form as a continuous theme where everything had a hidden compartment and multiple functions.”
In addition to design, the company offers furniture, lighting, textiles and decor items on its web-based store. (lacasaazuldesigns.com)
Stace King Designs
Stacey King, head designer and owner of Stace King Design, opened the doors to her Laguna Beach business in 2017, recently moving her office to the Woods Cove area. After working on the retail side—she owned a couple of boutique furniture stores and offered interior decorating for her customers—she took a break to raise her four daughters. During that time, she bought two fixer-uppers that she completely renovated and turned into short-term rentals.
King eventually decided to get back into interior design full time, finding a balance between her family and her love of transforming spaces. She is intrigued by how certain objects, textures, walls or finishes help people identify with what makes a space feel like their home.
“[This] started with doing one of my own short-term rentals in Laguna and blogging about it,” she says. “Shortly after, I had a following and inquiries to help others with design [of] their projects. … Now I have an amazing team of architects, structural engineers and builders that work hand-in-hand to refurbish and maintain the integrity of our Laguna Beach homes.”
King says, in her designs, she loves to blend bamboo, reclaimed wood, seagrass and rattan with stone, cement, metal and glass. Client referrals keep her busy year-round, and she says Laguna is a nurturing and encouraging place for local businesses.
“As a designer, I specialize in the delicate art of harmonizing organic and modern elements while preserving the integrity of the architecture,” she says. “A remodel can be a great way to update a home’s layout and make it more comfortable and livable. However, it is important to do this in a way that respects the original style of the home.”
King added her expertise to a Laguna home renovation for Olympic skateboarder Nyjah Huston in 2019. He wanted a fresh, clean minimalist approach and trusted her to blend warm organic materials with stone, marble and cement. The 10-month project was showcased in Architectural Digest.
She also recently redesigned a 1940s Laguna cottage. While maintaining its original envelope, she opened up the space by removing interior walls and transforming the space into a more functional, modernized home. (staceking.com)
Hawk & Co
Summer Jensen, Hawk & Co’s CEO and principal designer, is the newest addition to the Laguna Beach interior design scene. Previously located in LA, her new, local office is set to open this fall.
Drive down Laguna Canyon Road and you’ll soon notice “the exciting, eye-catching, Instagram-shooting, art-loving changes” to Hawk & Co’s building, as Jensen says. Graffiti artist-turned-fine artist Louis Carreon will be creating a mural on the building’s exterior, planning to paint the piece during the office’s grand opening. Jensen started Hawk & Co in 2009, after leaving the uber-high end, luxury design niche.
Previously, she had focused on hospitality design, from hotels to restaurants, stores and night clubs, becoming well-known for creating spaces that could immerse guests and customers in lavish wonderlands. At LA-based Commune Design, she led the interior design team behind the successful Juicy Couture flagship stores around the world. Jensen later was a senior designer at Candy & Candy (now called Candy London), working on the firm’s landmark One Beverly Hills project.
For her Laguna office, Jensen notes that when the city Arts Commission was reviewing her plans for Carreon’s work on the building, they asked “Why this piece?”
“Simply stated, ‘I really want people to be curious about what I am doing; because what I’m doing is important. … [I’m] protecting the earth,’ ” Jensen says. “I am a fan of minimalism, modern, contemporary, Scandinavian [and] Japandi, but I will design almost anything ranging from transitional to modern farmhouse and everything in between.
“If I truly care about the well-being of my clients, I have to consider their health as a crucial pillar of my core beliefs,” explains Jensen, who is originally from Honolulu. “In Hawaii, we call it our ‘kuleana’ or duty. It’s my duty to not injure others with my design, so we have made the change. Off-grid, sustainable sources of energy with passive architectural design, gray and black water systems, circular food systems, etc.”
Jensen and her firm recently finished a local home called Terrace House. She says the goal with the project was to create a nontraditional beach house that was durable and easy to live in with kids—a modern sanctuary set at the beach. (hawkandco.com)