A Balanced LA Home Filled With Humor and Heart

by Maxwell Tielman

Like most things in life, creating a home as a couple is all about compromise. Just ask Lara Bandler and Chad Hogan, the owners of this beautiful home in Topanga Canyon, CA. The couple met over eight years ago in New York City while working for Vitamin Water, Lara as the director of public relations and Chad as the creative director. Over that time, their relationship toggled between friendship and dating, but it wasn’t until Lara moved out to Los Angeles to start her own PR firm that the two decided to “make it real.” Now engaged, the couple have both made Los Angeles County their home, choosing the Topanga Canyon region after Chad came across an article about it in Rolling Stone.

“On our first drive through Topanga Canyon,” Lara says, “we were on our way to the State Park to hike and saw an open house sign on a cool old house. We walked in, and the rest is history.” The previous owner of the house had lived in it since it was built in 1948. It was outdated and sorely in need of repair, but the potential lying within its post and beam construction was enough to tamper any nagging doubts. “There was an energy about the house that was palpable.”

Over the past year, Lara and Chad have been working on turning the house into a place where they both feel at home, something that meant learning to co-exist with and embrace each other’s different tastes and styles. “Chad is very into functionality and has a strong industrial aesthetic,” Lara says. “He veers towards raw wood and black. I, on the other hand, am into a super clean look and feel – comfortable and white and plush.” It was this push-and-pull, however, that allowed the two to arrive at this beautiful happy medium; a home that is filled with warmth, light, and touches of irreverent humor. Both contemporary and eclectic, cozy and polished, the home strikes the perfect balance. —Max

Photographs by Heather Culp.

The master suite. "I call it a suite," Lara says, "because when we bought the house this was just one empty room and we decided that unless we could turn this into our master suite, the house wouldn't work for us. We had to get super creative because it was a small room. We made the space feel like a mini hotel suite. Our bed is the only thing in our bedroom and behind our bed is a huge double shower and behind the shower is our bathroom vanities and then Chad's closet and my closet with a separate W/C." Handmade bedside tables from Etsy, bedding from West Elm, bed from Room & Board, arrows from Frederick's & Mae.
The opposite wall of the master bedroom.
Behind the bed is a small bathroom with vanities and a shower. "I loved the sink faucets because having grown up in Paris, they say 'chaud' and 'froid,'"Lara says, "reminding me of my love for the French language."
The living/dining area features the home's original fireplace, made from gears and a sawdust collector. The year "2014" is etched into the floor in front of it, a reminder of the whirlwind year the couple has had—buying and restoring their home and getting engaged!
"I love this photo of our dining area because I think it shows a lot of the characters of who we are," Lara says. "The farm table was an amazing find at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. We love having big dinners for our friends and all sitting around and laughing. The photo above the table was taken by my father, Don Bandler who was an amazing photographer before stricken with early onset Alzheimer's Disease. We cherish his art and have a lot of it hanging up to remind us of how precious life is." Stools from Ligne Roset.
The opposite wall of the living/dining space. The taxidermy caribou head was found at an antique shop in Georgia. Carpet from RugsUSA.com. Sofa from Room & Board.
"I love the little reading nook behind the fireplace with my two favorite chairs," Lara says. "There is an antique typewriter next to it and it's just an inspiring corner to think or read or chat."
"Chad built this office for us," Lara says. "He works from home and is a designer, so he needs a functional work space to design. He had this large oversized art hanging in his loft in Brooklyn (a shot of Lil Wayne from a shoot he worked on) and we decided to turn it into a desk which worked really well for space. Chad found two Eames drafting stools and built the shelves out of wood and materials he found. We each have a tool chest for our desk items. The snowboard was a design Chad did for a limited edition board for VitaminWater."
The kitchen. "We always knew [this] would be the main hangout in the house so we wanted it really open and comfortable," Lara says. "We didn't want to block the view at all as you can see outside while you are cooking. We put a vent in the stove that raises up as you cook, [as opposed to] a hood. We chose a huge oversized farm sink so there was plenty of room and we both really wanted open shelving for easy access. Chad found this National Forest sign at the Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena and his eyes lit up so bright. Being an avid hiker and camper, his favorite place to be is in a national park. It was like the sign was made for our home." Stools from CB2.
The kitchen's farm sink.
A view of the kitchen opening up into the mudroom. "I love the transition from the concrete Moroccan tiles to the black wood floors," Lara says. "Chad and I got basic wood butcher block and [distressed] the counters ourselves. We spent a few days beating the wood with chains and chiseling it and adding flaws to it and then stained it several times, including with tung oil, so the counter would be fully safe for food. All of the cabinets were custom made by a carpenter."
The family room. "We wanted a space that was comfortable and functional for us to relax and chill," Lara says. "We did, however, want to keep it somewhat open to the kitchen so that when one of us cooks, we can talk and the person cooking can see the TV in the family room."
"We custom made this crazy four-person double chaise sofa," Lara says. "I call it the kiss of death because I have not seen a movie through from beginning to end since getting it. It's just too comfy! The barn door was custom made with reclaimed wood from the house and Chad made the handles out of old axes he picked up at the Rose Bowl Flea Market." Coffee table from Blu Dot, side tables from IKEA.
The opposite wall of the family room. The original wood-burning fireplace was converted to a gas-burning stove, allowing the couple to have constant fires burning. "The map hanging is an old topographic map of Topanga given to us by my brother when we bought the house," Lara says. "The old books on the shelf belonged to my grandfather who was an incredible professor, dean, politician and intellect." Owl and squirrel figurines from Jonathan Adler.
The guest bedroom. "We wanted to keep it clean and simple so we painted the back wall black and hung a wood skull on it," Lara says. "I love Pendleton and, as a Jew, finally got to spend my first big Christmas with Chad's family and they spoiled me for my first big one. A Pendleton blanket was on my list but it wasn't until the last minute when Chad's mom said, 'Oh, I have one more thing - any interest in these?' and pulled out a bag full of vintage Pendleton's she had from the 70s. I couldn't have been more excited." Bed from Crate & Barrel.
The guest bathroom. "We have two towels—one says 'pee' and one says 'poo,'" Lara says. "They gave the option for free engraving up to three letters so it only made sense!"
The guest cabin. "We have an amazing little 400-square-foot guest cabin next to our house, connected via side decks," Lara says. "Chad and I lived in this cabin for four months while we worked on our home and fell in love with the space."
The guest cabin interior. "There is an amazing energy about the room. It's filled with old wood and so many stories. The floors are concrete and we have a living area and a sleeping area and then a large barn door (like in the main house) that closes the bathroom and the closet. Chad designed the table under the large window that can go up or down depending on needs."
"This is our guest cabin bathroom which we had so much fun designing," Lara says. "The space is all black and white with small hexagonal tiles. We wanted to put something fun into the tiles and what better than one of our favorite Outkast songs!"
The exterior of the main home.

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  • LOVE this home. I mean, I’m emotionally invested in it now. I can see why it was love at first site. Great design. I think I’m going to have to pin every image.

  • This house is everything! All of the windows and natural light makes my heart sing. Also, I really enjoy that while the home decor has a definite artistic point of view, it is still restrained in a way that lets the architecture of the home and the views out the windows really shine. Lovely!

  • What an amazing space! I love the idea of a double shower in a master. I like the guest cottage but my favorite part of the whole property is that original fireplace made from industrial materials. Brilliant.

  • Thank you all so much for the kind words. Our home is such a labor of love and it’s so nice to hear your thoughts! The striped pillow on our bed was custom made by the amazing carrie of barrington blue. It took me forever to find her and she helped create exactly what we were looking for. Her site is: http://barringtonblue.bigcartel.com. Happy holidays all!

  • This is such a great home, it’s inspiring to see a couple mesh their tastes together in such consideration and creativity.
    I would love to be friends with these two! Look at those yummy guest spaces. sigh!

  • I want to start by saying that the home is beautiful, looks cozy, and all those window views are making me miss California.

    So, I’ve gotten behind on the blogs I read. And while DS is one of my favorites, the new site design is painful to read now. I use an rss reader and when I click through, I am forced into the mobile version on my tablet with no option to change it. Also, the text is so large I have to scroll to read more than one sentence or see the caption to a photo and it takes away from the beauty you guys work so hard to put forth. I don’t usually complain (about anything) so I hope I’m not being too…something. I just miss the ease with which I could see the sneak peaks and other design happenings; right now it’s a bit of a chore.

  • Oh my goodness. I absolutely LOVE this home. Seriously, I could move in tomorrow and not change a thing. I can tell that creatives live in this home. It’s just lovely, warm, inviting and fun.

  • what an amazing home – but a shame ikea doesn’t get the credit it deserves… cushions on the sofa, bathroom vanities, headboard in cabin – it show readers that style is affordable

  • So glad they kept that fireplace! Also, I love the way they subverted the somewhat narcissistic idea of the monogram.

  • I love so many of the small details in this house. Can you tell me where the zebra chairs are from?

  • I love the axes used as door handles! Such a creative detail! :) The whole house is lovely.