To Beach Their Own


Jen Samson Design transforms a jumbled beach house in Laguna Beach into a welcoming sanctuary

“Every home has its own unique story to be told,” believes interior designer Jen Samson, “and no two should look or feel the same.” The couple who own this house felt the same way. “They were looking for a designer that was not typical of what you find in a beach community in Orange County,” remembers Samson, who was connected to the client through Brass Tack, a store in downtown Laguna Beach. That directive ruled out a beach house or modern farmhouse vibe, “They wanted someone that leaned towards a much more collected, modern aesthetic.” 

The living room’s pristine palette, which is captured from different angles in the three photos above, which highlights a sofa from Croft House, vintage Finn Juhl chair from 1st Dibs, covered in shearling and a rug from Marc Phillips, is punctuated by a black bench by Christian Liaigre found on 1st Dibs and a cabinet from Ethnicraft. Photo by Chad Mellon

The 2100 square foot midcentury home, built in 1963, was riddled with challenges: the living and dining room, felt disjointed, a jumble of oversized furniture, midcentury modern lighting, glass doors and a baby grand piano; the main outdoor deck on the first floor, which swathed the house in ocean views, was not being well-utilized. “It didn’t feel like the comfortable, functional modern sanctuary they wanted,” says Samson. They also had a growing art collection. 

Photo by Chad Mellon

“The clients yearned for a space where they could really relax and unwind and they absolutely loved white!,” says Samson. “We built the home around a very neutral, calming color palette that feels modern but it also very comfortable.” Again this calm and collected backdrop, the art takes central stage. “Their gorgeous collection of modern pieces really helped to define the direction for the home,” says Samson. 

In the dining room, a light by CTO illuminates chairs from Eero Saarinen found at Design Within Reach. Photo by Chad Mellon

A wall near  the stairs was replaced with a glass banister. The kitchen brought into the 21st century: upper cabinets were removed and lower cabinets were replaced. Marble countertop and thick floating shelves were the finishing touches on a transformed space. Changes were made to the private spaces as well. “We completely reimagined the existing closets in the master bedroom to align with the overall look of the home,” Samsom explains, “We designed wood slat doors for one side of the closet wall, and the other side is a combination of drawers and doors in which we added inlaid linen wallpaper and the brass hardware.”

A dresser from Lawson Fenning is paired with the renovated closets in the master bedroom. Brass hardware is from Forge Studio adds a hint of sparkle. The scones are from Apparatus. The rug was discovered at Vintage Rug Shop. Photo by Chad Mellon

The resulting space thrilled the couple, especially the wife. “She travels quite a bit for work so we installed nearly everything when she was away, so the initial “wow” factor really came into play,” Samson shares,  “As with any project, it is always so exciting to see everything come together.  I remember them saying they were in shock and couldn’t believe that this was actually their home.”