They played the long game, but Joe and Lisa Preston were always determined to live in the Diamond/Crestview home they have owned since 2010.
“Lisa had found it because it was initially listed as a ‘distressed’ property. So we thought, Oh, we can come in here and get this for a good price,” recalls Joe Preston, a critical-care physician, of their initial awareness of the Spanish Mission-style home perched high in the hills above Laguna Beach. It seemed to be the right size for their growing family, which at the time was living in “a 1,600-square-foot beach cottage with two kids” (they now have three).
The house, which served as a second home for the previous owners, was vacant, which made it even more enticing to Joe. “It was running distance from our cottage. I would run up here and sneak up through the back gate, and I would sit in the backyard and look out,” he admits. “It was totally closed-up; no one was here. So I came up here repeatedly, and I was like, ‘I have to have this house. I have to have this house.’ I loved the gardens, the view – and I hadn’t even been inside it yet!”
Once inside, via an open house, the couple was even more smitten, as the interior turned out to be a wildly eclectic mix of bold, bright furnishings, wall coverings, light fixtures and more, with northern ocean views to die for.
“When Lisa and I came in here, we were just like, ‘This is amazing.’ Once we saw it, we were like, ‘This has to be our house,’ ” Joe recalls.
But even for a doctor and a software executive, the 3,500-square-foot house was interior designer Ohara Davies-Gaetano, even before they moved in. “We loved every bit of it, the wallpaper, the wild colors, the mix and match of it; and that is what Ohara had designed for the previous owners,” Lisa says. “So we contacted Ohara – we met her through the realtor – and we asked her what furnishings we should buy from the previous owners, because we knew we wanted to use her to help us to transition it…