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The Best Residential Architects and Designers in Newport Beach and Orange County

16 Min Read

Orange County is the third most populous county in California, with 3 million people living in its cities. The two most famous beaches in the county – Newport Beach and Laguna beach – are homes to beautiful coves and exclusive neighborhoods.
Many houses here are designed by skilled architects whose creative structures compliment the natural landscapes of the area. We analyzed architects and architectural firms, and ranked them based on those with the most accolades, best design, and most glowing customer service reviews.

This list includes both licensed architects and residential designers who can both design stunning homes but differ in other services offered. Architects are trained in design, engineering, and project management and have passed a licensing exam. Residential designers typically don’t manage projects and plans will need to be approved by a structural engineer. Whether you choose to hire an architect or a residential designer will depend on your project needs and complexity.

Ian Harrison Architects

220 Newport Center Drive Suite 11-342 Newport Beach CA 92660 USA

Ian Harrison Architects is an award-winning firm designing luxury homes in Newport Beach, Balboa, and Corona Del Mar. Ian Harrison projects cost from 1 million to 3 million USD, and commonly include the classic Americana coastal and contemporary-style homes.

Every project Harrison handles aligns with the client’s requirements, the environment, and the neighborhood. The firm offers custom home designs, floor plans, green building options, and remodels. Harrison also works on projects such as senior housing, high-density townhomes, institutional projects, and mixed-use properties.

Project by Ian Harrison Architects

The firm received the Gold Nugget Award for the Home of the Year category, given by the Pacific Coast Builders Conference, and awards from the National Association of Home Builders, for its single-family home designs.

CJ Light Associates

1401 Quail St., Suite 120, Newport Beach, CA 92660

CJ Light Associates has designed some of the most expensive estates sold in Orange County. Established in 1991 by Christian Light and based in Newport Beach, the firm has built more than a hundred homes that line coastal California. Their work offers a modern, updated take on classic Mediterranean and Spanish-style homes. Though the exteriors express traditional aesthetics, the interiors feature a more contemporary finishing. However, at the heart of each of their designs is the homeowner’s unique personality and soul. CJ Light’s portfolio includes some of the priciest homes in the Orange County real estate market.

Project by CJ Light Associates

CJ Light Associates aims to harmonize its designs with clients’ lifestyles and personalities. Their work has appeared in multiple issues of Luxe Interiors + Design Magazine Orange County and Southern California.

LeTourneau Architects

250 Newport Center Drive, Suite 305, Newport Beach, CA

Founded in 2006, LeTourneau Architects is a full-service architectural firm specializing in luxury contemporary homes. Owner Chris LeTourneau puts an emphasis on making spaces that are both innovative and practical, with energy-efficient systems and renewable materials always incorporated into his designs.

Project by LeTourneau Architects

The company offers architectural services, pre-design, site study, and photorealistic renders for clients in Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, and Venice Beach. Their projects range up to $3 million. LeTourneau’s work has appeared in Orange Coast and 944. The firm has also has also had full-spread features in Riviera and Newport Beach: The Design Issue.

Laidlaw Schultz Architects

3111 Second Avenue, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

Craig Schultz and Scott Laidlaw formed Laidlaw Schultz Architects in 1992. The firm takes to architecture as if it is more than art – a form of practical poetry, making homes for clients that are suitable, timeless, and thoughtful. The company creates homes that exude modernity and sophistication by combining natural materials such as wood planks and stones with softer hues. The firm offers architectural design for custom homes, floor plans, home extensions, remodels, and restorations in the areas of Corona Del Mar, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Newport Coast, and Santa Ana.

Project by Laidlaw Schultz Architects

In 2007, the University of California San Diego named the firm one of the area’s top emerging architectural firms, and the company was included in a similar ranking done by California Home + Design. The company has also won a number of AIA awards for their residential designs. Publications such as OC Home, Arquitectura Y Diseno, Sunset Western Garden, Riviera, House Beautiful, Interior Design, Angeleno Interiors, CA Home & Design, Los Angeles Times, and the Robb Report Collection have featured the firm’s works.

South Coast Architects

13 Corporate Plaza Drive, Suite 210, Newport Beach, CA 92660

South Coast Architects has been building luxury estates in Newport Beach since its establishment in 1992. Founder and principal architect Frank Stolz sought to design unique, one-of-a-kind homes for each of his clients, drawing on the insights from his 24 years of experience in the industry. His firm has a diverse portfolio that shows its solid grasp of various architectural design styles, from Tuscan, and Spanish, to traditional and contemporary. The company works mostly in Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Dana Port, and other parts of Orange County, and their projects often range up to $5 million in cost.

Project by South Coast Architects

South Coast Architects’ high-end works has appeared in Art & Architecture, California Homes, Sunset Magazine, Professional Builder Magazine, Luxe, and Dream House. The firm has also received two Gold Nugget Grand Awards, the Gold Nugget Merit Award, the Prism Award, the Laurel Award, the MAME Award, and the Best in American Living Award.

Geoff Sumich Design

31511 Camino Capistrano, suite A, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Geoff Sumich Designs specializes in designing homes that are reminiscent of the past yet steeped in modernity. Founder Geoff Sumich described the firm’s work aesthetic as ‘romantic modernism’ – a combination of both traditional and contemporary design in a a single home, with primary use of stone, wood, and steel materials.

Project by Geoff Sumich Design

The firm offers full architectural, end-to-end design services, with a hands-on approach from the architecture through to the interiors and construction. The company operates primarily in the areas of Capistrano Beach, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Dana Point, and their projects range in cost from $2 million to $200 million. The firm’s work has been featured in Architectural Digest and numerous other design magazines and newspapers.

Fleetwood Joiner Avalon Architectural

18006 Sky Park Circle, Suite 100, Irvine, CA 92614

Fleetwood Joiner and Avalon Architectural a joint organization which together, offers clients a diverse set of services for almost every architectural design need. Alone, Fleetwood Joiner’s specialties were initially multi-family housing and commercial architecture. As projects quickly grew to include residential custom homes, he collaborated with Avalon Architectural, Inc., which had top-ranked clients of its own.

Project by Fleetwood Joiner Avalon Architectural

Now as FJAA, they work on high-end, custom homes. The firm offers architectural design, green building options, home additions, and designs for car storage and wine cellars. The firm mainly operates in the areas of Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Newport Beach, Newport Coast, and Costa Mesa, as well as in out-of-state locations such as Las Vegas. Their projects have earned them several Gold Nugget Awards. The company’s designs have appeared in Luxe, Coast, California Homes, Orange Coast, Space, Veranda, and Estates West.

Forest Studio

332 Forest Avenue, Suite 4, Laguna Beach, CA

Forest Studio, based in Laguna Beach, California, offers a collaborative design service specializing in custom homes, estates, and ranch properties. Founded by Bob White in 2003, the firm touts a holistic, full-service approach to architectural, landscape, and interior designs. Forest Studio’s numerous works are a mix of contemporary and classic American- style homes.

Project by Forest Studio

Founder Bob White has served as a juror in high-profile design-awarding organizations such as the Builder’s Choice Awards, Gold Nugget Awards, The Nationals, and the Marketing and Merchandising Excellence MAME Awards – some of which he won himself when he was a principal and design director at a previous firm. More recently, the firm was also recognized in the 2018 Gold Nugget Awards where they won both Home of the Year and Residential Project of the Year awards.

Forest Studio’s projects have appeared in Elle Decor, Houses, House Beautiful, Kitchens, and Riviera.

Horst Architects

247a Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Horst Architects is an award-winning firm that has been designing high-end residential homes in Laguna Beach since 1990. Founder Horst Noppenberger aims to create contemporary spaces that are aesthetically-pleasing and immersive. The firm’s design principle is to look at homes as artforms immersed in the “interplay of light, material, and form.”

Horst Architects offers full architectural design, green building options, site preparation, home restoration and remodeling services for clients based in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Beverly Hills, Malibu, and other areas. The firm is committed to building homes that reduce harmful impacts to the environment and community.

Project by Horst Architects

They have received numerous AIA awards such as the Merit, Design, and Member’s Choice awards. Their work has appeared in Imagicasa, Interiors, Luxury of Home, OC Home, Ocean Home, Laguna Beach, Orange Coast, Luxe, Riviera, and Vivid Magazines.

Brandon Architects

151 Kalmus Drive, Suite G-1, Costa Mesa, CA, 92626

Brandon Architects is a boutique architectural firm which specializes in designing residential, multi-family, commercial and hospitality projects. Founded in 2009, the firm has already won numerous Awards of Merit given by the Golden Nugget Awards for their custom and renovated homes. The company has also won two AIA Citation Awards for their residential custom projects, a Sara Merit Award, and Pro Builder Design Awards.

Project by Brandon Architects

Founder Christopher Brandon aims to design high-end contemporary and traditional homes with a youthful edge. They work in Newport Beach and coastal Orange County. Their services include programming, site analysis, zoning processing, architectural design services, civil design services, interior design, and graphic design. Projects with Brandon Architects range in cost from $1-5 million to $15 million.

Publications such as Kitchens & Baths, Luxe, the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Times, OC Home, Coast, Orange County Business Journal, Riviera, and Newport Beach have featured the firm’s work.

Oatman Architects

412 31st Street, Newport Beach, CA 92663

Oatman Architects is a design collaborative that creates distinctive residential properties. Founder, Homer Oatman is driven by creative inspiration, technical artistry, and experience. He earned his Master of Architecture from the Graduate School of Architecture in the University of California – Los Angeles.

Oatman has travelled extensively in Europe and in the Mediterranean The firm is run by a group of architects who have completed prestigious projects and awards locally and internationally. In addition to outstanding architectural design, the firm’s services include an expert analysis of development opportunities and constraints, including an examination of the physical site’s climate, topography, view opportunities, and possibilities for incorporating energy-efficient systems, and oversight of construction.

Project by Oatman Architects

Oatman Architects projects are mainly concentrated in Newport Beach and have appeared in the pages of Luxe, California Homes, Huffington Post, and Veranda.

FoxLin Architects

392 Camino de Estrella, San Clemente, CA 92672

FoxLin Architects specializes in designing contemporary luxury homes with a green or technological twist. Founders Juintow Lin and Michael Fox are accomplished researchers in these fields, and both are professors of Architecture at Cal Poly Pomona. Fox specializes in research on interactive architecture and the intersection of robotics and digital fabrication. He is also regularly involved in NASA-funded research projects on architectural issues in outer space. Lin’s research focuses on sustainable urban housing and green building, and she has an impressive background of work, including a stint at the offices of I.M. Pei.

Project by FoxLin Architects

FoxLin offers full architectural design services with an array of green building and tech options. Their projects have been featured in the Dana Point Times, Surface, Los Angeles Times, Architectural Products, San Clemente Times, Venice CA, Architectural Record, and Form. Among other awards, FoxLin has received an Honors Award from the AIA-LA, and the Best of OC 2015 Design and Realty awards.

Anders Lasater Architects

384 Forest Avenue, #12, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Founded in 2005, Anders Lasater Architects does remarkable designs in the residential and commercial sectors. Under the direction of founder and CEO Anders Lasater, the firm has built numerous high-end homes in various Orange County neighborhoods, most notably in Newport Beach. These homes, while often in the vein of modernity and sharp lines, always include the subtlety of their natural surroundings.

Project by Anders Lasater Architects

Anders Lasater Architects received the 2016 and 2017 AIA Design Awards, and 2017 Gold Nugget Awards. The firm’s projects have appeared in Home, Design OC, Modern Luxury, Voyage, Bespoke, Pacific Coast, Luxe, and by the Coastal Laguna Beach Independent.

Graham Architecture

Graham Architecture, 1075 North Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Graham Architecture, a boutique firm specializing in designing high-end homes, offers full-service architectural design, interior design, and construction management in Orange County, California. Their many high-end residential projects line the cliffs of Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. The firm emphasizes harmony with the environment, basing each design on the character of the landscape, and making use of frames and sliding doors to emphasize the coastal views.

Project by Graham Architecture

Their projects include modern lines and soft colors and focus on natural materials such as wood and stone.
Graham Architects has been featured in a Luxe, View, Modern Luxury, Riviera, Laguna Beach, Design Bureau, M, and Coast Magazine for their works, and included in the 2015 Luxe Gold List: Interiors and Design.

Brion Jeanette Architecture

470 Old Newport Boulevard, Newport Beach ,CA 92663

Brion Jeanette Architecture is one of the most highly cited and most referenced architectural firms in Orange County. Led by founder and principal architect Brian Jeanette, the firm designs high-end homes situated in ragged and constrained cliffs. The firm also acts as a consultant for the California Coastal Commission on matters relating to complicated building sites.

The firm offers full-service architectural design which includes site acquisition, feasibility studies, research, site planning, schematics, and construction management. The company’s projects vary from contemporary to classic American to Tuscan Mediterranean. The firm prides itself on having the ability to work with whatever style the client desires.

Project by Brion Jeanette Architecture

The firm offers sustainable options in its designs, and its work has been featured prominently in Robb Report, Design OC, and in features for Bask magazine, Coast, Orange Coast, Home & Style, Western Art & Architecture, OC Metro, and the Laguna Beach Independent.


  • Shahe Demirdjian

    Shahe is an Editor at Los Angeles Architects with around four years of experience as a writer and editor in the construction space. Shahe has always had a huge interest in commercial/residential construction and real estate. On top of his experience at Los Angeles Architects, he has two years of experience as a Construction Partner Specialist at BuildZoom and six years of experience as a licensed real estate agent. In his work, he takes advantage of his expertise to take complex technical jargon from those realms and transform them into accessible, engaging content, blending his business administration expertise with a degree from Arizona State University with his experiential insights.  Expertise: Architecture, Home Design and Build, Home Remodeling Key Highlights: Arizona Real Estate - Licensed Salesperson  Education: Arizona State University, Bachelors in Business Administration