'We decided to put Tower 62 back'

Newport Harbor alumnus, woodworker uses a former lifeguard tower as inspiration for his new family home.

May 12, 2011|By Sarah Peters,
  • Newport Beach resident Mike Bless, a professional wood worker and craftsman, designed and built his office space to model a lifeguard tower, including a desk replicating a wave. He can see the waves from his office space over looking the beach.
Newport Beach resident Mike Bless, a professional wood… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Editor's note: This corrects who designed the house in the caption.

NEWPORT BEACH — For Newport Harbor High Class of '84 alumnus Mike Bless, Lifeguard Tower 62 was a symbol of a youth spent on the sand and in the waves.

The tower on 62nd Street and Coast Highway was torn down in the mid-'80s, but a new Lifeguard Tower 62 has become a landmark for Bless' newest stage in his life: a new home for him and his family.

Bless and his wife, Cristina, bought a one-story property two blocks from the beach in Newport Shores on 62nd Street in 2009. Immediately, the simple structure became a canvas for the expert wood and stoneworker's future family home.

"I knew that I wanted to raise it up, and I wanted an office high enough to see the waves," Bless said. "With the cubicle shape already there, I saw that I could turn it into a lifeguard tower.


"We decided to put Tower 62 back."

The now two-story, four-bedroom home features an elevated office space for Bless' growing woodworking business, WoodyBoard, which specializes in high-end ocean décor and custom wooden gates.

With "62" emblazoned in stainless steel on the outside wall and the office's ocean-facing windows, Bless created a post where he could watch the surf between the line of beachfront homes.

And even if he can't be in the waves — or watch them when he's forced to shut the blinds for computer work — he said his hand-crafted "wave" desk swirls around him in teal-colored Formica and still allows him to "catch a tube" even while working.

The rest of the house is equally accented with Bless' hand-crafted woodwork using afromosia, cypress, African mahogany, Philippine mahogany, Brazilian ipe and other exotic woods.

The woods, which range in complementary shades from pale yellow to a rich red, were used to make the home's unusual cutout pattern front gate, the deck built over and around an existing pine tree, the garage door, window trim, an arched interior entryway ceiling, and many of the home's tables, storage areas and art pieces.

However, the home's centerpiece is the door. The multiwood creation features a surfboard — the inspiration to much of the WoodyBoard pieces — and is surrounded by tempered glass, more colorful wood and a steel "fin" knob. The door serves both as a portal to Bless' love of woodworking as much as a portal to his new home.

"Mike had this plan in his mind to make a dream house," said Cristina. "We just followed his dream. With his skills and surfing influence, we basically did it all ourselves."

Once the project was started, it moved at a rapid pace. The door took Bless about 35 hours to create by himself and the rest of the home was done in less than eight months, mostly due to the availability of tradesmen.

However, the excitement Bless and his wife had for the project had something to do with that, too.

"I was trying to build something that would have a beachy feel," Bless said, "reminding me of my youth and growing up at the beach."

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