An Interior Designer Helps Refresh a Residence That Harmoniously Blends the Architecture and Captures the Personality of the Home

Feels like home again.

  • Category
    Homes, People
  • Written by
    Jennie Nunn
  • Photographed by
    Lauren Pressey

Twenty years ago, when Mark and Joycelyn Harrigian were living in Manhattan Beach, they needed help with linens for their newborn baby son’s room. “I couldn’t find anything that I liked, and someone said, ‘Oh you should call Nancy Russert [of Les Beaux Interiors in Manhattan Beach]. She’s great with fabrics and could customize bedding for you,’” recalls Joycelyn. “So I did, and she created exactly what I wanted and had not been able to find.”

“It took three years to build this house, and by the time it was finished and we needed to furnish it, we were all a little done,” says Joycelyn of the 8,978-square-foot residence poised on more than a half-acre. “We just wanted furniture and didn’t put much thought into how the rooms and outdoor areas could be used or the importance of scale.”

“We wanted the house to feel more welcoming, comfortable and fit with who we were.”

After living in the home for a while, they longed for a redesign that accentuated both the Spanish-influenced architecture and their family’s lifestyle (now including three children.) “I wanted someone to come in and freshen up the outdated décor,” explains Joycelyn. “And once again, Nancy’s name came up. So I immediately reached out. We wanted the house to feel more welcoming, comfortable and fit who we were.”

Later the couple, with two children at the time, realized they needed a larger home for their growing family, with additional indoor-outdoor space and a view. “I was really wanting more space, something similar to what I had growing up in Dallas, Texas,” says Joycelyn. “We spent a lot of time looking at potential houses in Manhattan Beach and just couldn’t find something that checked all the boxes, so we extended our search to Palos Verdes. When we saw the house in Palos Verdes Estates for the first time, we were in love with the view of the golf course, mountains, water and city lights.”

Though they loved the site, the home—originally built in the 1970s—just wasn’t quite right and had an awkward flow and kitchen with no connection to the family room. After contemplating a major renovation, they ultimately decided to rebuild.

When Nancy, owner of both Les Beaux Interiors and Twist Custom in Gardena, initially arrived on property, she was struck by the ocean view, the wood-beamed and arched ceilings, and the ironwork. “To me the interiors didn’t represent the potential of the house, and it felt heavy with a lot of carved woods, very elaborate fabrics and it was very formal,” she explains of the velvets, drapes and wallpaper. “Before, the décor was hiding the house. We wanted to open it up.”

Working in phases over the next few years, Nancy began with the family room off the kitchen before moving to the kids’ rooms (two are now away in college, and one is at home in middle school). Next up was the formal living room followed by the dining room, master bedroom, powder room and the “cabana room” off the pool.

Some of the biggest transformations include the living room, once awash in dated, golden walls and now appointed with a limestone fireplace, a coffee table and an oatmeal-hued sofa and swivel chairs by Twist Custom; a powder room with Agate wallpaper by Phillip Jeffries, a brass pendant lamp and mirror by Arteriors; and the master bedroom with a custom-upholstered bed and chairs by Twist Custom and a rug by Konstrukt.

“We wanted it to be calming, serene and pretty,” says Nancy. “We kept the existing wooden nightstands, and we painted them a light grey.”

One of the main family hangouts is the outdoor dining room with chairs by Essentials For Living and a woven chandelier from Palecek, and the cabana room just off the pool, which once contained wall-to-wall dark brown carpet and dark brown walls. “We painted it and changed the flooring and chose high-performance fabrics for wet bathing suits,” says Nancy, who also selected two Slim Aarons photographs, El Venero and Poolside Glamour.

“It’s completely different than anything I would have chosen on my own, and I love them,” says Joycelyn of the photographs. “They make me happy every time I walk past them.”

Nancy, who has formed a strong friendship with the Harrigians, acknowledges that the final, clean, coastal design wholeheartedly complements the home. “When I visit this property now, it’s somewhere I want to be,” she says. “It feels completely right and comfortable and inviting.”

And the family couldn’t be more pleased with the transformation. “Originally the furniture details and fabrics felt so much older and fussy and just didn’t feel like who we are,” says Joycelyn. “The home really feels like it has our family’s personality back.”

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