What Happens When a Designer Returns to a Project Years Later—But for a New Owner

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kitchen with angular ceiling

It’s fairly common for a designer to work on a partial remodel with clients only to return years later to finish the job. What’s less typical is a designer revisiting the same house under new homeownership. When designer Jen Samson got the call asking her to revisit a property in Laguna Beach, California, the only emotion she felt was pure excitement. “The style of the home really speaks to my aesthetic and always did,” she says.

In January 2021, Samson had renovated the exterior, courtyard pool, primary bedroom, and kitchen with the past owners. Although, even then, the house didn’t need a ton of help in the character department: It was originally designed by local architect Chris Letourneau, and parts of it, like the office, felt like a time capsule. This go-round, her clients were a young couple, and luckily they felt the exact same way about the three-bedroom, two-bath home as Samson did. As the owners, Brian and Lindsay, remember it: “We immediately fell in love with the architectural design, set-back location with [a] long driveway, and towering trees—it’s the quintessential Woods Cove home.”

red-pink zellige tile
Tile, Mosaic House; Countertops, Neolith; Stools, DWR.
pink laundry room sink
Wallpaper, Studio Four NYC; Sink, Concretti; Light, Etsy.

Their goal? Finish the job by refreshing high-traffic areas to reflect their personal style and updating the bathrooms, laundry room, pantry, and their son’s room. Samson worked with builder Johnathan Roberson-Beery to bring the updates to life.

Part of the selling point of the home—and Samson’s work—was the kitchen. The “objectively beautiful” space, as the owners put it, had everything you could possibly need, from deep drawers to a built-in dog bowl station to Calatorao marble countertops. So it unsurprisingly went relatively untouched during their renovation, aside from receiving a fresh backsplash and new appliances.

plaid blanket on bed
Lamp, Ceramicah; Duvet and Shams, CB2; Blanket, Wallace Sewell; Rope Art by Jim Olarte.
office in bedroom
Rug, Safavieh.
leather chair in bedroom
Lamp, &Tradition; Chair, Lawson-Fenning.

As far as color palettes go, Brian and Lindsay knew exactly what they wanted: warm, saturated earth tones to create a home that feels inviting, comfortable, and modern. Throughout the house, they replaced the white walls with a warm cream and the sand-colored floors with a matte gray epoxy. Because the couple was bringing a fair amount of furniture and decor from their former home in the Hollywood Hills, including a Montis Domino sofa, Afteroom kitchen stools, and vintage Guido Faleschini Tucroma dining chairs, Samson used their pieces as jumping-off points for all her updates. “I [got] a glimpse into what they were drawn to,” she says. The item that stuck with her the most? A Moroccan rug with deep blues and reds. The latter hue ultimately inspired the Mosaic House tile backsplash that she added to the kitchen.

A rich yellow tile that was a runner-up in the kitchen immediately found a place in the home’s guest bathroom. “It was a clear winner,” says Samson of the Pratt + Larson tile they carried onto the ceiling to draw the eye toward the transom window. 

yellow tile around tub
Tile in R127 Glaze, Pratt + Larson; Faucet, California Faucets; Towel, CB2; Sconce, Pax Lighting; Tray, Kassatex.
yellow tile around tub

The theme of this seven-month-long renovation was undoubtedly how on the same page both parties were stylistically. “Luckily, almost everything went very seamlessly,” the designer notes. There were very few holdups along the way, which can be partly credited to the couple’s decisive nature—and the fact that this was not their first rodeo but their third home remodel. “They were like, yes, yes, yes,” adds Samson. That was certainly their response when she proposed swathing the primary bathroom in slabs of jade onyx.

green onyx bathroom
Light, Apparatus; Faucets, California Faucets; Mirrors, Rejuvenation; Runner, Armadillo.
green onyx bathroom
Floor Tile, Daltile.
green onyx bathroom
Switch Plates, Forbes & Lomax; Towels, Pottery Barn.

“We really went for it,” says Samson of the spalike jewel box. While the floor-to-ceiling stone is clearly a standout, her favorite design moments are the Forbes & Lomax light switches and the privacy glass in the shower that turns on and off with a flip of—you guessed it—the aforementioned switch. Both bathrooms got “chunky” custom floating vanities that offer tons of storage and built-in organization. 

blue cabinet in kids room
Rug, Naninarquina; Hardware, Rous; Wallpaper, Charles Voysey; Skateboard Art, Tappan.
nursery with illustration wallpaper
Changing Table, Ducduc; Rug, Studio Truly Truly.
nursery with illustration wallpaper
Crib, Nestig; Throw Blanket, Crate & Barrel; Mobile, Areaware.

The final room to come together was the couple’s favorite: their son’s room. To make up for the lack of closets, Samson introduced a wall of custom cabinetry to complement the nursery furniture, all while ensuring there was ample space for the now almost-2-year-old to grow and play. And when Mom and Dad are too exhausted to read a nighttime story, their little one can simply look around. The wallpaper from C.F.A Voysey looks like it’s pulled straight from a fairy tale, complete with medieval scenes and a river running through the English countryside. “The colors were a perfect marriage of everything that we had been doing in all the other parts of the house,” says the designer. And with that, Samson’s work here is officially done.

The Goods

The River Wallpaper, Charles Voysey ($225)

RCEEF 4 Tile, Mosaic House

Toggle Switches, Forbes u0026 Lomax

Loop Sconce, Apparatus ($6,800)

Alyssa Clough


Alyssa is a Brooklyn-based maximalist and vintage addict who is always on the hunt for something—a new piece of collage art, more plant babies, yet another ceramic vessel, you get the picture. Obsessions include bold accent walls, living a sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle, and supporting female artists and makers. Find her on Instagram ignoring her phone’s screen time alerts.