Sitting in the backyard at the mid-century modern hillside home of Laurie Raskin and Rick Shuman, you feel like you’re at an exclusive resort somewhere far away. The unobstructed views of the San Gabriel Mountains from their Encino perch are breathtaking. Palm trees delicately sway in the slight breeze. The sounds of nature play out like a soothing soundtrack. Indeed, that’s exactly the way the couple designed it.
Laurie and Rick walking down the light-filled staircase from the guest suite
“When we first saw the property, we’d been on vacation in Costa Rica, and we thought this home could potentially have that vibe. Out here you feel like you are on vacation. It is so peaceful. The light is lovely, and gazing at the mountains is healing,” Laurie shares.
“I love nature,” Rick concurs. “We are living in LA, but it feels like an island or nature refuge. Not a day goes by that I don’t open the drapes and think I’m so lucky to live here.”
Above: A colorful painting by Sarah Awad takes center stage in the living room.
The couple bought the property in 2004, moving to the Valley from Westwood. They wanted to be closer to their son’s school, and they needed more space—wall space. Laurie is a mixed-media modern artist. Her works have been showcased at a half dozen galleries all over the world including Skidmore Contemporary Art at Bergamot Station Arts Center in Santa Monica and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Laurie’s pieces, and those of others, grace every wall. “We have been collecting seriously for the past 15 years,” she says. Some works are by famous artists. There’s a Picasso drawing as well as a series of original vintage black and white photographs by Bauhaus in the kitchen. A Lichtenstein lithograph hangs in a hallway. Asian art, including a Buddha collection that dates from the 1300s to the 1700s, is scattered throughout.
Above: Rick, who takes guitar lessons, likes to kick back in the family room.
Laurie takes great pride in discovering artists at the beginning of their careers. Pointing to an abstract painting in the kitchen nook, she says “This work is by Sarah Crowner. We commissioned it directly from her 18 years ago when she was at the beginning of her career. Now Sarah shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.”
Creating a space suitable and worthy of the couple’s art collection happened gradually. Originally built in 1965, the one-story, 3,100-square-foot, three-bedroom home needed updating. One of the first changes: ripping out the wall-to-wall carpeting. Concrete floors were laid throughout (except for the bedrooms) “and it took two weeks of stripping and then layering and buffing to make them look like a gallery,” Laurie explains. Antiquated glass sliding doors were replaced with oversize Fleetwood sliders. Because Laurie loves the vibe in Japan, cherrywood, stained a reddish brown, was used in the kitchen and a bathroom, and a lush outdoor “inner garden” with cherrywood French doors and a waterfall was created off the family room.
The family room spills out into a patio garden with an Asian vibe. “I added lots of tropical succulents. I moved plants around and had my gardener plant them; the same way I collage images, I collaged plants,” Laurie notes.
More recently, the couple added 500 square feet by building an upstairs guest suite. “It’s the perfect space for when our son and his wife come to visit from Paris,” Laurie says.
“All the pieces here are about living artfully. The soul of an object matters to me. When you choose an item intentionally and purposefully, it enhances our experience of living.”
Both Rick and Laurie have their own private spaces. Rick, a psychologist who specializes in treating victims of crime and trauma, runs his private practice out of a spacious, light-filled office. And on most days you’ll find Laurie hard at work in the garage, which has been converted into an art studio.
The dining room features two noteworthy works of art: an oil painting of a man by Evita Tezeno and an enamel-on-wood painting of a room with a yellow curtain by Kirsten Everberg.
Describing the home’s decor as “Frank Sinatra in Palm Springs meets a vacation resort in Costa Rica,” vibrant color coupled with a plethora of lush textures are its hallmarks. Large area carpets—actual replicas of Laurie’s paintings—are in several rooms. With a company in Brussels she created her own line called Tiger Lily Rugs. “People can go to my website, laurieraskin.com, and if there is something they especially like, they can have a custom carpet made.”
The kitchen nook
Every item displayed in the couple’s home has a story and was carefully selected—from the red contemporary metal sculpture that was bought from an artist in Mexico and craned into the backyard, to Rick’s favorite piece, a black-and-white photograph of a couple in a car.
“It was taken by Fred Lyon, a longtime, well-known photographer who is based in San Francisco. There is just something about it I love,” says Rick gazing at the shot.
The backyard features a red metal sculpture from an artist in Mexico City who goes by “Otto.” It was recently delivered to the couple’s home and placed in the backyard with the help of a crane. Right: One of Laurie’s mixed media on canvas paintings in the couple’s bedroom. Otto and Laurie’s works can be found at L & G Projects in La Jolla.
“For me,” Laurie says, “all the pieces here are about living artfully. The soul of an object matters to me. When you choose an item intentionally and purposefully, it enhances our experience of living. In this house, I feel like we can live artfully. Honestly, I came over the hill from the Westside and I was kicking and screaming. Now I love the Valley and feel like I’ll never leave.”
Four cars…and counting.