This Is What Happens When Two Empty-Nesters Go the Luxurious Route—Pure Design Eye Candy
The home was inspired by the work of famous architect Luis Barragán.
Homeowners Shawn and Gina Lannen were ready to give their first home as empty-nesters the luxury treatment. Cue interior designer Laura Roberts to help with the design of the space, located in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles. Laura and Shawn had worked together on projects before—he’s a general contractor and principal of Lannen Construction, which specializes in high-end remodels and new construction in and around Los Angeles.
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In fact, this project had a lot of kismet industry connections. The house was originally a 1,156-square-foot one-bedroom, one-bathroom bungalow on a double lot. When the Lannens bought the home and lot, it came with a set of plans created for a 1,664-square foot addition that was designed by former owner and interior designer Luis Ortega (whom Laura had worked with before starting her own firm) and architect Jose Fernandez. The whole vision for the renovation? A sprawling courtyard-centered, Luis Barragán-inspired home with two additional bedrooms and bathrooms, a powder room, and a long gallery leading to an expansive great room.
Of course, Shawn handled the build as general contractor, while Laura oversaw the interior design. “Gina and Shawn were looking to design their first home as empty nesters, with room for their grown children to visit but primarily for themselves to enjoy,” Laura says. “They were looking for a more luxurious interior than their previous homes but comfortable enough for everyday living with plenty of entertaining opportunities.”
Shawn and Gina also wanted to honor the architecture that was modeled after Barragán, so Laura used it as inspiration for the clean and modern shapes within the design. “I also used the client’s artwork to inspire the color palette throughout,” she explains. “The clients had a large piece of artwork that prominently features an intense shade of cobalt blue ubiquitous in Barragán’s architecture that I used as a reference for the outdoor feature wall and interior courtyard wall. Barragán often used blue to extend the eye line to the sky.”
One of the biggest challenges in the home was the lack of storage. To solve the problem, Laura re-designed the principal closet and created a custom bureau and bookcase for the main bedroom. In the family room, a custom built-in banquette was made and the furniture layout was optimized to make it a multipurpose space for gathering and dining. And Laura also got strategic with the floor plan. “Since their children were grown and no longer living in the home, we walled up one of the bedrooms to create a guest suite with a separate outside entrance, and I used what was formerly the vestibule of that bedroom to create an office for Gina with wall to wall built-in cabinetry and custom desk,” Laura says. “Lannen Construction’s in-house cabinet shop built all of the built-ins and millwork I designed for the home.”
More custom pieces can be found throughout the home, like in the great room, where Laura paired custom-designed furniture, new furniture, vintage pieces, and the client’s collection of contemporary artwork and accessories from their travels. “A main anchor in the room is a custom-designed modern sectional sofa that is the perfect size for their evening TV watching,” Laura explains. “Other key pieces are custom leather swivel chairs, a Minotti reading chair for the corner, and a beautiful limestone table from Lawson-Fenning, which matches the existing fireplace stone perfectly. A massive vintage Mongolian elm console table displays some of the client’s accessories and offsets the modern graphic piece of art above it. The furniture arrangement is cozy enough for their day-to-day living while providing plenty of seating opportunities for entertaining.”
And while there are so many interesting features that catch the eye, the powder room has all the drama—something that Gina and Shawn both wanted. Laura commissioned a custom wallpaper mural from Area Environments by L.A.-based, Trinidad-born artist Miles Regis. It complements the home’s color palette and modern, eclectic vibe.
And since courtyards were a tenet of Barragán’s architecture, the outdoor space had to be vital in this home, too. “The central courtyard, which they use for entertaining, is furnished with ample seating and a fire pit,” Laura says. “The patio off the kitchen is for outdoor dining, and I gave it a vaguely tropical feeling with different-shaped basket pendants, creating a magical glow at night. I repurposed the client’s existing Saarinen chairs for the dining table by powder-coating the frames and remade the seat cushions in an outdoor performance fabric. The effect is a lush and inviting exterior that complements the colors and design of the interior for a seamless transition to the outdoors.”
The whole project was completed last year and the Lannens are thrilled with the end result. “Laura captured the feeling we wanted perfectly. There may be some ‘precious’ pieces in the house now, but nothing feels like it can’t be used or touched,” Gina says. “And when you have pets running in and out and kids visiting with friends, you want everyone to feel like they can hang out anywhere and stay awhile.”