At Home With Laura Barry
Posted on February 1, 2019
“Look at the waves! Do you feel like you’re on a ship?!” Laura Barry is watching the surf breaking just beyond the disappearing glass doors at her beach house in Del Mar. A striped umbrella, pitched in the sand, billows like a sail in a brisk breeze kicked up by a coming storm. But for now, the sun is blinding and the sky, a brilliant blue.
Barry, the uber successful Rancho Santa Fe-based real estate agent — she’s consistently ranked San Diego County’s top real estate agent based on sales volume and in the top 100 nationally — bought the property ten years ago from longtime friends and clients Steve and Meghan Finley. Over the years, it has served as a retreat for Barry’s friends and family, including her 16-year-old daughter, as well as a personal getaway. (Given the demands of her business, she’s virtually on call 24/7.) Last year, Barry gave the beach house a top-to-toes-in-the-sand rebuild, inviting Ranch & Coast to take a tour of the Hamptons-style “modern farmhouse.”
Barry re-configured the original five-bedroom floor plan into four, converting two bedrooms downstairs into a master suite with bath. Upstairs, there are two additional bedrooms with bath, and another master suite. All the baths have nickel fixtures and fittings from Waterworks, as well as marble floors. Barry says the second-floor master is her favorite room because disappearing windows offer a seagull’s-eye view of the beach below. Here she can watch an ever-changing seascape, from toddlers taking their first tentative steps in the surf to tourists taking “selfies.”
The house is decorated in tones of sandy beige and blue sea glass, and natural materials abound. “We tried to do things that are beachy and will wear well in the salt air,” says Barry, who credits her former assistant, Lori Bothwell, with the home’s interior design. Floors are wire-brushed French oak with the look of driftwood, while the kitchen counters and expansive waterfall-style island are Calacatta Carrara Premium marble, white with grey veining. Palacek counter stools are upholstered in an easy care, indoor-outdoor Sunbrella fabric, and a large clamshell filled with fishermen’s floats adorns the dining room table. Although the house is casual, the touches are definitely luxe. Take, for instance, the six-burner ivory-and-brass La Cornue range, what Barry calls “a little bit of jewelry for the kitchen.”
In the adjoining living room, a comfortable sofa in beige linen and slipcovered chairs invite relaxation by the fireplace, framed in marble and flanked by grey cabinets filled with books, photos, and chunks of coral. Although there is a big screen television, sweeping views of the sand and sea provide the true entertainment at this oceanfront retreat. “There’s not a better reality TV show,” says Barry with a laugh.
Within walking distance are shops and restaurants on Camino Del Mar, including Del Mar Plaza, now owned by Del Mar residents Marc and Patty Brutten of Brixton Capital. The couple is trying to revitalize the 30-year-old center, which has suffered from a tough economy, out-of-town former owners, and competition from e-commerce. “I think a lot of [the Bruttens] because they are investing back in the community,” Barry says. “They are making the plaza more of a destination, which is what we need. What they’re doing is very unique and I think it’s going to be incredibly successful. It brings more life. Life attracts more life.”
Also in the works is a proposed 16-acre enclave on a nearby coastal bluff at Camino Del Mar and Border Avenue. The project, under development by Zephyr Partners and The Robert Green Company, would include a high-end resort and residences, restaurants and retail, public parks, and trails. While the proposal has hurdles to overcome, Barry believes the development will be good for property values.
Barry and her brothers, Jason and Sean, hail from a real estate dynasty founded by their parents, Daniel and Catherine. “They instilled in all of us that anything is achievable if you don’t give up, and that there’s no easy road,” she says. “It’s just hard work.” She obviously took that advice to heart, becoming, in 1999, the first realtor in San Diego to hit more than $100 million in sales. Over the past decade, she has closed transactions in excess of $2 billion. Andrea Naversen
Photography by Vincent Knakal