This Is How an L.A. Chef Achieves the Perfect Work/Life Balance
When L.A.-based celebrity chef Ludo Lefebvre and his wife, Krissy, renovated their Sherman Oaks home a few years ago, they immediately took it upon themselves to gut and expand the kitchen. After all, what's a chef to do in a kitchen that doesn't match his skill level? While they invested early on in the structure of the house, adding a guesthouse to make space after the birth of their twins, Luca and Rêve, the backyard was put on the back burner—until now.
Decking out the outdoor kitchen with a full suite of DCS cooking and refrigeration appliances, the couple needed an outdoor entertaining space to match. The guest house also needed some love—to function as a space for family and friends to stay over, while also doubling as the couple's office to manage the LUDO brand. (He's the chef and owner of Trois Mec, Petit Trois, Trois Familia, and LudoBird in Los Angeles, and she's the marketing and PR manager for the brand.)
To help make their vision a reality, they enlisted the help of interior designer Marie Flanigan—who took their inspiration to make it a functional and beautiful reality. The result: The couple now has the perfect space for entertaining family and friends, but they've also achieved an ideal work/life balance with a practical home office and outdoor test kitchen. Step inside to see how an underused space became a multipurpose hub where the family now gathers daily.
With no firm plan in mind but a shared love for indoor/outdoor living, the couple and their designer embarked on a design journey that would enhance how the family lives their everyday life. "We were inspired by Krissy and Ludo's adventuresome sense of spirit, and wanted each space to reflect the interesting story of their lives while also enhancing the everyday function of their home," Flanigan told MyDomaine. "We ensured that the overall design celebrates their family's love for indoor/outdoor living."
The couple initially remodelled and expanded the kitchen in their main house in 2015, but the backyard still lacked an identity. "We had a guest room and office prior to the birth of our twins, but once they arrived, we needed to carve out more space," Lefebvre explains. "We invested the majority of our funds building strong bones during the construction process, knowing that we could always decorate the spaces later. Finally, in 2018, we were able to assemble the dream team and resources we needed to make the back house and backyard areas that are not only functional but stylish."
For Lefebvre, a home office and outdoor kitchen was essential in enhancing the quality of his work/life balance, allowing him to spend more time at home with his family. "It was important for the outdoor space to designed in a functional but beautiful [way]" he told us. "We do a large percentage of our cooking outside … Since the weather in California is beautiful most of the time, we take full advantage of our outdoor square footage." The couple already had the full kitchen suite, so the goal was to furnish the outdoor area with enough seating to entertain friends and family while still keeping the backyard kid- and dog-friendly."
In the back of the house, the area had to function both as a home office for the couple and a guesthouse for visiting family and friends. "It was really important that Ludo and I both have separate and distinct office spaces," Krissy told us. "We love sharing an open floor plan, but we wanted to have individualised spaces, with mine being more feminine. Ludo's primary focus was the library. He has over 1000 cookbooks, and he wanted a space where he could reference everything quickly while still enjoying a sense of zen relaxation as he reads and works."
The designer worked with Krissy and Ludo to settle on a colour palette driven by the indoor/outdoor nature of the spaces. Their exceptional art and vibrant rust-colored rug provided the foundation for the texture-rich furnishings and décor. "One of the biggest challenges in modern design is creating luxurious spaces that are also practical," says Flanigan. "We wanted the Lefebvres to have the stylish spaces of their dreams, but we wanted those same spaces to feel comfortable and highly livable for a busy family of four."
The couple furnished the space from scratch with the help of Flanigan, but brought in a portrait of Kathy Bates by Lionel Deluy, which served as inspiration for the home office. The gallery wall in Krissy's home office is now her favorite aspect of the whole space. "The surprise addition of the gallery wall on install day was so fun," she told us. "We started pulling family photos, iconic photos and artwork we owned, plus a piece that Ludo painted. It really tells a story of our family through art."
For Ludo, the library was the pièce de résistance in the space. "He wanted a sturdy but comfortable black leather couch, which was funny, because I was against black, but it works perfectly," says Krissy. "The natural stone table and the chairs create the perfect space for him to feel uncluttered in his mind to read and create, but while surrounded by 1000 books. It's magically done."
Though the couple now has many favourite pieces in the space, one of the greatest finds were the Andros rope chairs. "They hold a particularly special place in our hearts," the designer told us. "It unites an iconic sense of structure with a rich, nature-inspired rope finish—a combo we have a difficult time walking away from!"
It was a labour of love for the couple and their designer to turn this lackluster backyard and guesthouse into a functional space for work and play, but the result is a space where the whole family can be together and where the parents can find quiet time to work while still being present for their family. And just like that, they achieved an ideal work/life balance.