Perched on the coastline and surrounded by lush greenery, Kevin and Holly Johnson’s home in the Woods Cove neighborhood of Laguna Beach, California, was built in 1961 and designed by noted midcentury architect J. Herbert Brownell. The two-story residence sits on a half-acre, wooded parcel that was once part of a botanical garden and enjoys a stunning panoramic view of the ocean. Lovers of modernist architecture, the Johnsons reached out to Lucas Design Associates (LDA) and Graham Architecture to renovate their property—tasking them with not only updating their home, but also infusing it with Japanese influences suited to the midcentury property. They also wanted the home to embrace indoor/outdoor living, reflecting their love of nature and the beautiful surroundings.
Visits to the Schindler House and the Eames House provided inspiration for the design of the remodel and helped show "how a modest scale can be both interesting and impactful." In fact, many of the tenets of the Schindler Frame were embraced and adopted by the architects: floor-to-ceiling ribbon windows, a clerestory, large overhangs, and a low horizontal profile with varying ceiling heights.
The residence features a diverse material palette that is somewhat unexpected for a Southern Californian home, starting with the shou sugi ban gate. Full of rich, multi-layered textures, the darker shade gives the home a subdued, Japanese vibe, and provides the perfect backdrop for the Johnsons to showcase their collection of antiques.
Stained oak floors and cabinetry, burnished concrete block, custom back-painted glass, a Cor-Ten steel fireplace, and shou sugi ban wood all appear throughout the home.
"We focused on integrating nature-inspired elements and modern accents in order to create a retreat for our clients, a sort of safe sanctuary immersed in a picturesque landscape," explains David Lucas, LDA founding partner and creative director. "Now they have a space that they can enjoy that reflects their passions and their life."