House design for charity

Custom home community is chance for some to buy land and build dream home from scratch.

April 28, 2008|By Michael Miller

The Irvine Co. is offering a special opportunity for home buyers in Crystal Cove: Purchase a barren plot of land, enlist an architect and build an expensive residence from scratch.

The only catch is they’ll have a tough act to follow.

Last week, the Philharmonic House of Design — one of the first two homes to be completed in the Irvine Co.’s custom development in Crystal Cove — opened for public tours. Twenty-three designers worked on different rooms in the house, which features four bedrooms, an art studio, a pool, a game room and a starting price tag of $11.9 million.

Every year, the Philharmonic Society of Orange County finds a newly constructed house and enlists members of the American Society of Interior Designers to decorate it. The society uses the project as a fundraiser, with admission from public tours going to support music education in schools. This time, House of Design visitors not only get to enjoy the interior decoration, but also the start of an upscale new community — and that ocean view doesn’t hurt, either.


“A lot of people are coming here and sitting and watching the boats,” said Jan Lawrence, the president of the Philharmonic Society’s educational committees. “It’s like an added bonus for them. You can see Catalina. You can see everywhere.”

The Crystal Cove custom home community, when finished, is expected to contain 131 residences. All but a handful of the sites are still barren strips of land, although Jane Duffy, an Irvine Co. sales associate, said 74 of them have been sold. Buyers of the properties must work within size limits and choose among four styles of architecture — Northern Italian, Provence, Tuscan and Santa Barbara — but otherwise have free reign over the appearance of their homes.

The Irvine Co. has created custom home sites in Newport Beach before, including several around Newport Coast. The Crystal Cove property, which extends roughly from the Resort at Pelican Hill to Crystal Cove State Park, represents the last oceanfront community to be built in Newport Beach.

“Crystal Cove is one of the last new home opportunities that offer the best of the California coastal experience,” said Irvine Co. spokesman John Christensen. “We anticipate these home sites to be very popular.”

The Philharmonic House of Design is open for tours 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, with extended hours until 9 p.m. Thursday to meet the designers, through May 18. On all days, last entry is one hour before closing.

One-day tickets are $35 and unlimited passes are $45. For more information, call (714) 840-7542.

MICHAEL MILLER may be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at

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