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Dean Larkin Design River Lane Renovation Project

Dean Larkin was recently asked to do a renovation project that has become known as the River Lane Renovation Project. In addition to being a fun project for the Dean Larkin Design team, the design is being considered for the 2023 Luxe Residential Excellence in Design Awards and the owner of the home is a personal friend of Dean’s.

The project began when Dean’s friend visited a kitchen design store and found the options a little overwhelming. He asked Dean to help with the kitchen, and then the project expanded to the whole house. Dean recalls, “We were able to improve the indoor flow, and the owner loves the new flow and is really happy with it. He let us do everything, down to the furnishing. And of course, like anything else, we started out in the kitchen. We ended up redoing parts of his secondary bathroom as well, because having been done in the 80s, the old design would look totally out of place in the newly remodeled house.”

The project’s most compelling aspect was the vision that Dean had for his friend’s home. Despite having been there numerous times before, Dean had never examined the house from an architect’s perspective. However, once he did, he envisioned a remarkably distinctive future for the property. Dean’s depiction of this vision was evident in his rendering, which served as a powerful tool. The homeowner had long desired a change, but had no clear idea of what that might entail. It was only after viewing Dean’s rendering that the owner could visualize the finished project and fell in love with the potential that had been unveiled and was determined to achieve precisely what was illustrated.


In the bedroom, a horizontal shelf posed a design challenge, which was solved by adding a white painted vertical wood “headboard” behind the bed to showcase a painting. The painting we used was actually one painted by our client’s mother, and was special to him.

Dean shared, “My friend is a huge art collector, not super expensive art, but some Chagall prints and some Salvador Dali prints. He had too much so we had to thin the collection. For their bedroom, I had them pick their favorite art. One of them was a painting his mom had done and so I got to highlight it and do the whole room around it. I loved that his mom got kind of a special place in his life that way and it was a lot of fun.”

Primary broom with light walls and pendant lights over nightstand | River Lane Project | Dean Larkin Design


The placement of the range in relation to the island and sink often presents an opportunity to make a statement in the kitchen. To create a visually striking design in the new great room, we established a strong axis with the breakfast bar, sink, and range as the visual center. The kitchen countertops were white, but we took advantage of the range’s location to showcase a beautiful marble backsplash on the wall, making it the star of the show. The white countertops surrounding the range served to highlight the owner, who frequently acts as chef while entertaining in the kitchen. This design approach effectively framed the cooking area and made it a central feature of the space.

Dean notes, “The stone that we had in the rendering was called Picasso, which is a gorgeous, gorgeous stone. Luckily, I picked a stone for the rendering that was available, because he said to make it look just like the picture.”

The grays and caramels were classic mid-century neutrals, and acted like an art piece. We had no other backsplash in the kitchen and we did full height cabinetry everywhere else in the kitchen so that the star would be just that piece. We decided if we are going to do a backsplash, we would really do it. Rather than creating a filler between the uppers and the lowers, we created a statement.

Cantoni Couch

Cantoni couch, part of the River Lane Renovation Project - Dean Larkin Design

Other elements from the rendering were less exactly copied. The light fixtures or pendants were different but better, as well as the barstools.

The couch was also a little different from the rendering, though Dean’s friend really wanted to have the couch from the drawing. A Cantoni couch was the closest we found and the client fell in love with it.

The couch was made with a performance fabric, which are high durability fabrics that can be cleaned with solvents and can stand up to more “abuse.” The fabric is indestructible plastic, and can’t even be hurt by bleach, so the client would have no worries about damaging the furniture.

Dean shared, “We had a lot of fun with this project and really enjoyed helping my friend renovate his space into something he loved.”

Outdoors and Light

Two things that are built into the DNA of Dean Larkin Design are incorporating light into every project, and a blurring of the lines between indoors and outdoors. In the River Lane renovation project, we have skylights over the entertainment area that shines natural light into the kitchen as well. In addition, we have a clear line of vision from the kitchen, across the dining and entertainment areas, and through a window wall into a courtyard with trees, greenery and more light. On the subject of the landscape, we also feel that the design complements the beautiful landscape design of Zucker Design Associates, who also worked on the project.

Kitchen with Picasso stone looking out across great room to the outdoor space | River Lane Project | River Lane Renovation Project | Dean Larkin Design

Contact Dean Larkin for Exceptional Contemporary Design in California

Our work on the River Lane renovation project was fun and we are thrilled that the client was so happy with the results. The final product is represented beautifully in the images by photographer Jeri Koegel. For more images of the project, see our residential project feature page. Dean Larkin Design was established in Los Angeles in 1999 and this modern architecture firm maximizes the intrinsic potential of a location, including its available natural light sources. Dean Larkin is very familiar with both historical and contemporary design in the entire Los Angeles area, and the firm endeavors to achieve a complexity that is multi-layered with an effortless elegance. For a design that is modern and innovative, unlocks your location’s innate potential by making specific use of light, views and more, and uniquely designed for the way you live, contact Dean Larkin for a consultation.