Slice of Life
Alongside his family, Lemonade’s president spreads some home design cheer in Manhattan Beach.
Sunlight pours into the Olsens’ kitchen as Ian quickly tidies up, apologizing for an imaginary mess (the house is immaculate). At first glance, the space is open and bright with a coastal vibe that fits its Manhattan Beach locale. But after further inspection, it quickly becomes clear: There’s a lot more behind the home’s design than beach-friendly décor.
“Our influence was to make it light and airy and colorful so it feels like a fun, sunny day at the beach, while still adding some tonal qualities so it didn’t feel like every other beach house you see,” Ian explains.
Being the president of Lemonade Restaurant Group, Ian is no stranger to creating a space that is both inviting and unique. As part of a partnership with chef and founder, Alan Jackson, Ian describes his role now as predominantly “focused on development and design”—a skill set that’s showcased with every original composition throughout the Olsen residence.
After renting in the South Bay since 2008, Ian and his wife, Kirsten, decided to make their move from Lake Oswego, Oregon, official and purchase a home in Manhattan Beach. The home, built in 1996, initially had a Cape Cod feel until the Olsens made it their own.
“Basically we came in and did a full remodel, tearing it down to the studs and starting over,” Ian explains. “Before we moved in we spent three months just on cosmetics. We put the flooring in (a gorgeous French white oak), painted the whole house, did a bunch of millwork, and then we hired Joseph Fournier from Doug Leach Architecture. That’s when we started devising a plan for what we really wanted.”
The entire renovation took a year, with a result that is nothing less than extraordinary. From the moment you walk into the house through the large, vibrant, blue Dutch door, your eyes bounce around taking in sought-after antiques, dramatic artwork, custom pieces and modern designs.
“Some of it’s new, some of it we’ve had made, and some of it’s super-old,” Ian says. The decision to merge old with new comes from a desire to create balance but also to avoid a lack of livability. “I don’t want to live in a museum,” Kirsten notes. “We have three kids.”
This juxtaposition of old and new is sprinkled throughout the house, but it’s perhaps most noticeable in the kitchen and dining area located on the first level of the home. Hanging above the 250-year-old chairs that surround a large, rustic dining table is a custom lantern designed by Paul Ferrante. “We wanted something that looked old but functioned new,” Ian says.
Modern stools line the island in the kitchen, with a streamlined breakfast nook nestled in the corner for maximum family functionality. The cabinetry in the kitchen is made of clean lines. “We wanted to create something simple and then accent accordingly,” Ian notes.
This simplicity is paired with a La Cornue range and Calcutta countertops. “I can’t profess to be a French chef, but I can play one on the weekends,” Ian says with a grin.
When the doors lining the wall that separate the dining area and patio are open, the boundary between indoor and outdoor disappears. Outside, gas lanterns from Bevolo in New Orleans hang above a large seating area adorned with colorful, custom-made pillows.
In the main living space, a massive Luc Leestemaker painting sits in the center of the room. “We didn’t want to make TV the focal point of the home,” Ian points out.
There is, however, a room dedicated for media and study time. Pass the Swedish Mora clock from the early-1800s at the base of the stairs, grab the railing made solely from nautical rope, and you’ll find a kid-friendly lounge separated from the rest of the second level by a large, sliding barn door. George Interior Design of Mill Valley also aided in the design of the main floor, kitchen and media room.
Additionally located on the second level are Braden’s and Ryan’s rooms, each decorated with their own individual flare accentuated by the professional touch of Noelle Parks, founder of Noelle Interiors. “I lean toward more striking, modern elements and shapes,” Noelle points out.
In Braden’s room, Noelle says, “we helped her do a little more boho-chic look.” Finn, the youngest Olsen family member, opted for a room downstairs equipped with his own bathroom, drum set and nautical motif.
But it’s the master suite that serves as the second level’s main attraction. “This is probably where we did the most work on the house,” Ian explains. “We completely rebuilt the pitch on the front end.”
Noelle lent a hand designing the bedding, rugs and headboard. Above the bed hangs another large, custom-made lantern designed by Paul Ferrante. The bathroom is filled with pieces from Water Works, including an incredibly inviting egg-shaped tub, his-and-her sinks and glass shower.
Like the rest of the house, well-placed treasures can be found in the master, including an assortment of antique Swedish furniture, a gorgeous mirror from Paris and lamps with bases milled from a sunken boat from the late-1800s found in the Seine River. Adding to the ambience of the space is a fireplace from Okell’s Fireplace in Hermosa Beach and a sun-drenched patio.
When asked what it was like to work with clients who clearly had their own unique vision for their home’s design, Noelle smiles and says, “We were the last piece of the puzzle. It felt really good to start a relationship with clients I already found so talented … it was so fun to work with them.”
Kirsten, however, gives most of the design credit to Ian. “ is the one with the eye,” she explains. “I love nice things, but overall I’m pretty laid back.
For Ian, creating beautiful spaces is something that runs in his blood. “My mom was really into the way rooms present themselves and how pieces can enhance the overall ambience. She had exquisite taste in antiques and how to put together a house,” he explains. “I’ve always loved architecture, how spaces come together, how they feel and just creating relevant spaces. It always bothers me when you walk into a room and think, ‘Why did they do that?’ or ‘That doesn’t fit.’”
If there is anything the Olsens have mastered in the design of their home, it is their ability to beautifully merge esthetic relevancy and function while maintaining an unapologetic originality.