AnnaMaria Stephens 2014-07-07 03:42:16
San Diego NATURAL ATTRACTION A contemporary residence in Encinitas nods to the homeowners’ European roots. By AnnaMaria Stephens Photography by Robert Benson Belgian-modern has made its way stateside, and the laid-back luxe style couldn’t be a better fit for San Diego residents Lauren and Christian Lahaye. The Belgium-hailing couple, who own S.D.’s popular LoLo Callisto clothing boutiques, tapped buzzworthy local firm Nakhshab Design & Development to build their dream house in Encinitas. “We wanted to bring that trendy contemporary look you’ve been finding in Europe for so many years but not so much here,” says Lauren, a fashion designer who has bounced between Belgium and California her whole life. “The lines may be straight, but we bring in a lot of natural elements, so it’s never cold.” The Lahayes and their daughters, 10-year-old Lola And 12-year-old Victoria, had been living in a ubiquitous tasteful Tuscan-style residence since moving back to California. When they finally found a lot with canyon views in Encinitas, they fell in love. “It was perfect for a one-level home with lots of windows,” says Lauren. They talked with architects, but none clicked. Then, they met NDD’s Soheil Nakhshab through a friend. The Layahes took one look at his bold portfolio and hired him on the spot. “I had free rein to meet their needs,” says Nakhshab, who runs NDD with his brother, Nima, and has landed national ink for the multigenerational homes he’s built for his own family, who moved from Iran when the brothers were young. “The Layahes are immigrants like us and have a really tight-knit bond.” It wasn’t hard to convince the homeowners that 3,800 square feet would be more than enough space for the young family. “In this area of Encinitas, there are a lot of McMansions,” says Nakhshab, who favors the open layouts and indooroutdoor emphasis of midcentury-modern design. “People get disconnected from each other in homes like that.” His solution? A small footprint with plenty of flow, achieved with a large sunken living room and sized-down but comfortable sleeping quarters. He also designed a separate and private guest room for friends and family from Europe, who often stay for long visits. Both sides of the house feature floor-to-ceiling glass that slides open to outdoor spaces landscaped with architectural plants. A solar-powered pool is just one of the sustainable features that earned the home a LEED gold rating. The Lahayes—who are about to expand their boutique business online— brought in good friend Doro Pirino, an interior designer and fellow Belgian expat, to create a modern interior space. Pirino worked with NDD from the start, designing the lighting plan, expanding the square footage and choosing interior finishes and appliances that melded perfectly with NDD’s additions, like the gorgeous built-in walnut cabinetry that keeps the family’s possessions out of sight. “We’re minimalists in this house because each space is so pretty,” says Lauren. “We don’t want to distract from that.” The pared-down interiors allow the home’s most striking element—a stone wall that begins on the exterior and runs through the house—to take center stage. “I call it the spine,” says Nakhshab. “We sourced the stone from France and kept it unfinished and organic. There are even fossils that fascinate the girls.” “They also use it as a climbing wall,” laughs Lauren. Other natural elements abound, from limestone flooring to ceilings clad in wood. Nakhshab also created an eye-catching atrium at the front entry, giving the family an interior glimpse of the natural elements beyond. “Until they visit our house, a lot of people don’t realize that contemporary can feel so warm,” says Lauren. Especially when such a creative, happy family calls it home
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