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Lived-In Character by the Ocean: Warren Buffett’s Former Beach Home Gets a Fresh Start

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Lived-In Character by the Ocean: Warren Buffett’s Former Beach Home Gets a Fresh Start

April 3, 2023

Melissa Rohani didn’t set out to purchase Warren Buffett’s former beach house. But when the interior designer, who co-founded Southern California-based design firm Studio Gutow with Lisa Berman, was searching for a family home in Laguna Beach, she was disappointed by the lack of character in many of the places she toured.

“Most homes on the market in Orange County have been flipped or touched in some way,” Melissa explains. “Lisa and I both really love and are drawn to spaces that have some sort of history. We want it to feel warm when you walk in rather than sterile. But a bunch of homes in this community were just stone veneered everywhere and very grand and fancy.”

Warren Buffett’s one-time getaway, on the other hand, was a retro time capsule. Originally constructed as a small cottage in the 1930s, the beachfront abode was built up to a three-story, 4898-square-foot mini mansion in the decades since the business magnate bought it in 1971. But its interiors still reflected a bygone era, with rough stucco, aluminum railings, and commercial-grade carpet.

And though Melissa had no intention of keeping these dated finishes, the four-bedroom house had all the charm she was seeking. Plus, she couldn’t deny its prime location—just steps from the Pacific Ocean—and its meandering layout, which was ideal for separating her young kids and twenty-something step-children into their own wings. The only question was how, exactly, she would update the dwelling for modern life.

Ultimately, Melissa decided to gut renovate but attempt to preserve the original essence wherever possible. Throughout the project, she and Lisa referenced a photo album of the house that the Buffett family kindly shared, as well as other 20th-century inspiration. The result is a cozy, contemporary home that seems like it’s always been this way. Let’s take a closer look.

After

in order to establish an old world feel, melissa and lisa collaborated with dan 17
Above: In order to establish an old-world feel, Melissa and Lisa collaborated with Dan Luna Exceptional Woodworking on authentic-looking millwork, like the walnut paneling in the new entryway. “He is a true craftsman, so it took a lot longer,” says Lisa. “He was more costly than others, but he just really understood and took the time to listen to help us create what we were trying to achieve.”
dan luna is also responsible for the intentionally imperfect tongue and groove  18
Above: Dan Luna is also responsible for the intentionally imperfect tongue-and-groove ceiling that follows the original pitched roof structure. The slope plateaus where there was once a wraparound porch, which Melissa and Lisa incorporated into the living room for extra square footage.
a curvy, olive green bouclé studio balestra chaise offers a breathtaking c 19
Above: A curvy, olive green bouclé Studio Balestra chaise offers a breathtaking coastal view through the new aluminum windows. “That was more of a functional choice, because we’re right by the ocean,” Melissa says. “The elements are really hard on wood, so it won’t last very long. You would have to get iron windows completely stripped down and refinished once a year. So we chose to go the aluminum route. They’re very heavy duty.”
vintage gems like this bruno mathsson pernilla lounge chair are woven throughou 20
Above: Vintage gems like this Bruno Mathsson Pernilla lounge chair are woven throughout. “It almost looks like a little sculpture, and it’s very comfortable,” Melissa notes. “It’s a perfect little reading spot. In fact, the kids always fight over it to watch TV.”
despite neighbors&#8\2\17; assumptions, melissa opted to keep the original  21
Above: Despite neighbors’ assumptions, Melissa opted to keep the original footprint of the compact kitchen. “I loved how it was a little bit removed from the main living space,” she says. “The open plan is on trend, but I hate that with a passion. Lisa and I both have crazy ADD. When I’m in there cooking, I can’t have everyone right around. I need just my own little zen peaceful place.”
a white lacanche range is paired with custom white oak cabinetry, veiny paonazz 22
Above: A white Lacanche range is paired with custom white oak cabinetry, veiny Paonazzo marble counters, and unlacquered brass plumbing fixtures.
in the dining area, a custom banquette is outfitted in schumacher linen, while  23
Above: In the dining area, a custom banquette is outfitted in Schumacher linen, while a space-age Hector Finch light fixture hangs from above. “We needed something that could swag because of the roof line,” says Melissa. “We wanted something that was dramatic but also not too overbearing because it’s low. It totally relates to the time period of most of the furniture, too.”
the women embraced the seaside locale in the powder room with moody, hand paint 24
Above: The women embraced the seaside locale in the powder room with moody, hand-painted fish wallpaper by de Gournay.
hand applied plaster in patagonia by portola paints evokes relaxation in the pr 25
Above: Hand-applied plaster in Patagonia by Portola Paints evokes relaxation in the primary bedroom. “It’s not stark white. It’s not brown. It’s our favorite, favorite, favorite color. It’s the best off-white,” says Melissa.
melissa&#8\2\17;s step daughter, who&#8\2\17;s very into makeup, insist 26
Above: Melissa’s step-daughter, who’s very into makeup, insisted that the primary suite include a vanity for glam. “So we didn’t build the back of that closet and then designed that piece way at the end,” explains Melissa. “We wanted it to look like a vintage desk, but it has hot drawers. You can hide everything in there.”
brooklyn based artist wayne pate partnered with studio four nyc to produce this 27
Above: Brooklyn-based artist Wayne Pate partnered with Studio Four NYC to produce this pale pink, structured floral wallpaper, which brings a mature femininity to Melissa’s daughter’s bedroom. “I love spending time in India, and it reminds me of block prints that you would find in palaces there,” Melissa says. “And my daughter actually has an Indian name, so it’s fitting for her.”
the guest bedroom showcases more dan luna handiwork with vertical wood paneled  28
Above: The guest bedroom showcases more Dan Luna handiwork with vertical wood paneled walls. “It’s tongue-and-groove but completely flush, so there’s no nickel gap,” says Melissa. “The planks that we used were imperfect. And the finish was watered down, so you don’t see a thick coat of paint over the imperfections. Everything comes through, all the knots and the cracks and the saw marks.”
in the family room—which features an inviting, l shaped verellen section 29
Above: In the family room—which features an inviting, L-shaped Verellen sectional that accommodates Melissa’s whole family—a low ceiling was an unexpected perk. “It was an old a patio, and they just put a roof over it a long time ago, so we weren’t able to raise it at all and it just remained low,” she says. “That has been the best part of the room because you just go in there and you feel so cozy.”
a central courtyard, complete with limestone pavers, is a dream entertaining ve 30
Above: A central courtyard, complete with limestone pavers, is a dream entertaining venue.

Before

before melissa renovated, the house sprawled out in every direction, as evidenc 31
Above: Before Melissa renovated, the house sprawled out in every direction, as evidenced by this image from the Redfin listing.
the living room was tired and whitewashed, but melissa saw its potential. 32
Above: The living room was tired and whitewashed, but Melissa saw its potential.

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Frequently asked questions

Who is Warren Buffet?

Warren Buffet is an American investor, business magnate, and philanthropist who is the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

Where is Warren Buffet's beach house located?

Warren Buffet's beach house is located in Laguna Beach, California.

Who designed Warren Buffet's beach house?

Warren Buffet's beach house was designed by architect Studio Gutow.

When was Warren Buffet's beach house built?

Warren Buffet's beach house was built in 1971.

What is the style of Warren Buffet's beach house?

Warren Buffet's beach house is in the modernist style.

What is the interior like in Warren Buffet's beach house?

The interior of Warren Buffet's beach house is minimalist and decorated with artwork from his personal collection.

Is Warren Buffet's beach house open to the public?

No, Warren Buffet's beach house is a private residence and is not open to the public.

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