Redefining Restful


Studio Gutow creates a sanctuary for a surgeon and her family that proves calm doesn’t mean bland or boring

In the kitchen, a mix of walnut cabinetry, Venetian plaster finished walls, unlacquered brass fixtures, Fior de pesco marble countertops and a Mexican tumbled limestone floors exude warmth. for Arthur Umanoff vintage barstools found on 1st Dibs. Photos by Hugo Landa Garcia.

The patina and history which shines through Studio Gutow’s spaces comes courtesy of its partners: Lisa Berman inherited her love of collecting from her father, while Melissa Rohani’s passion for interior design was ignited by her years as an antique dealer. Deftly layering their finds—compelling textiles, contemporary art and a carefully composed mix of modern and vintage furniture—results in rooms that are undeniably thoughtful and collected. But it’s their practice of encouraging open communication and conversation throughout the evolution of the creative process that infuses their work with that feeling—call it heart, call it soul—of welcome. 

The client, a busy surgeon, longed for home that would be a rejuvenating respite from her long, grueling days. “The goal was to create a sanctuary for her family,” says Bermam. “She deals with so much noise in her day that she wanted a place to come home to that felt calm but also warm and interesting.” But the imagery she had gathered made it clear to both Berman and Rohani that she wasn’t sure exactly what that meant. 

“She shared a lot of traditional, antique and rustic spaces that she was seeing on social media,” Rohani remembers. “They were eclectic, but also sort of mainstream. We got the impression that that wasn’t her true aesthetic.” They encouraged her to spend time with Berman, viewing contemporary, new construction open houses, in order to discover what it was that moved her. “It was during this process that we landed on an elevated, clean-lined aesthetic that is more true to her personality,” Rohani says. 

Aged limestone floors, a cedar tongue and groove ceiling, a chocolate travertine mantle, and plaster walls, set the stage for carefully chosen pieces including a vintage Willy Guhl planter, a Piet Kramer Art Deco cabinet, and mohair sofa. Photos by Hugo Landa Garcia.

To bring the 3,000-square-foot Mid-century coastal home in line with this vision and set it apart from its neighbors in this Newport Beach community, Berman and Rohani started with the interior architecture, vaulting the living room’s flat ceiling and rejiggering its floor plan. They added pocket doors between the primary’s bedroom and its bath; conjoined, the space now feel like a expansive and luxurious hotel suite. A built-in banquette in the family room provides seating while also ensuring that the area maintains its autonomy from the bustling kitchen. 

Old world, distinctly tactile materials in a controlled palette of pinks, maroons, camels and soft greens telegraph ease and comfort. This includes the Mexican tumbled limestone floors and multi-hued Fior Di Pesco Italian marble countertops in the kitchen, entry and baths; the living room’s chocolate travertine fireplace mantel and surround and its aged limestone floors; and, the powder room’s integrated slab sink and wall, created from Pink Lady quartzite. It also includes the home’s Venetian plaster walls, rich walnut wood paneling with stacked, built-in wall nooks and shelving, and oak doors. With high ceilings sheathed in cedar and a preponderance of light that permeates the space through the home’s many skylights and windows, the effect is cozy yet distinctly modern.

A walnut bed nook and walnut flooring frames a custom linen upholstered bed in the primary bedroom. Photos by Hugo Landa Garcia.
In the primary bath, Pink Lady marble used for the sink and the wall, and a walnut vanity walnut showcase a custom illuminated vintage French mirror. A vintage Persian carpet sits on Mexican tumbled limestone floors. Photos by Hugo Landa Garcia.

Furniture and accessories confirm this impression. In the living room that encompasses the vintage Persian wool rug, the mohair sofa, a Piet Kramer Art Deco cabinet and a vintage planter by Will Guhl. The family room’s walnut paneled wall highlights a vintage painting and unites a vintage marble cocktail table found at Obsolete, a burled wood and glass side table discovered at Orange, and a boucle chair from Lawson Fenning. The primary’s powder showcases a vintage French mirror while in the primary bedroom, the spotlight falls on a custom linen upholstered bed set into a walnut-paneled nook, supported by a writing desk pulled from an old church. The kitchen and dining nook is outfit with Arthur Umanoff bar stools, Carlo Scarpa for Bernini dining chairs and a vintage octagonal slate table. “As well as being sustainable, vintage pieces provide a way to complete a space in a shorter period of time,” Berman shares. 

The primary bedroom’s vintage writing desk was discovered at an old church. Photos by Hugo Landa Garcia.

The final effect is one of serenity and calm. “We’re most proud of the evolution of where we started to where we ended up,” says Berman. The client is enthusiastic. “I can’t believe I get to live in a place that is so beautiful, and it doesn’t look like anyone else’s home but uniquely like mine.”