When Leana and Browne Greene first saw the Santa Monica house they now call home, they were far from impressed. “It was dark as a cave with shag carpets,” says Leana of the beachfront Tudor-style house built in 1928. “You couldn’t even see the ocean. My husband walked in and said, ‘Absolutely not!'”
Luckily, Leana saw its potential. Today, fifteen years later, the house is a light-filled testament to her vision. Large windows with views of the Pacific Ocean let in an abundance of sunshine. Crisp white rooms are sparsely furnished with a mix of Swedish antiques and kid-friendly slip covered couches. Gleaming hardwood floors, void of rugs, add a beach-inspired feel. Small vases with roses from the garden are placed throughout the house. And the couple’s three children, Violet, 13, Blue, 10 and Teal, 5, make sure it’s never spotless. “It’s a place the kids can hang out with their friends, but also a place I find beautiful,” says the Swedish-born Leana, who has welcomed the likes of U2’s Bono, actor Will Ferrell and Maria Shriver to her home. “I wanted a house that can be lived in, not looked at.”
It’s a sentiment that fits Leana perfectly. Earlier this month, she launched Kids In The House, an impressive parenting resource site that features more than 8000 videos with 450 leading experts and parents (I’m happy to be one of them). The site covers topics from trying to get pregnant to college and everything in between. “I know so many parents, me included, who never have time to read all the parenting books they’d like to,” says Leana who, together with business partner Richard Ulfvengren, spent three years collecting the site’s vast library of content. “I thought it would be both inspiring and time saving to do short videos of experts giving their best advice.”
Although running a successful start-up is now consuming a lot of her time, Leana is living her passion. “I feel I’ve found my purpose,” she says. “My kids inspired me to do this, and even though they tease me at times, I know they’re proud of me.”
Here’s a tour of the Greene family’s stunning Santa Monica beachfront property:
Dinner time (above): Leana went to Sweden and purchased the antique furniture for the house, including the large yellow dining table and chairs. “Almost all the furniture in the house are Swedish antiques, except for the couches,” she says. “I wanted to create the Swedish look that I love.” Long before Leana and Browne bought their home, Swedish actress Greta Garbo visited and enjoyed the view from the porch.
A room with a view (above): The large windows give the home its beautiful natural light, and opens up every room to a view of the Pacific Ocean. “The location is hard to beat,” says Leana. “It’s a beautiful spot.”
The main bedroom (above): The whole family often gather in Leana and Browne’s bedroom for movie night and popcorn. And yes, sometimes all three kids–and their mom– jump in the bed!
A beautiful bath (above and below): Who wouldn’t want to have a bubble bath in a vintage tub with an ocean view? “This is my space, my refuge” says Leana of her private bathroom. “It’s the one place where I can lock the door, relax and be alone.”
A guest bedroom (above and below) on the top floor of the house.
Kitchen tales: “We created the kitchen from scratch,” says Leana of the rustic space, which includes an antique Swedish plate rack. “It’s my take on a Swedish country kitchen.”
The outdoor patio (above) features a large farm table with chairs for family dinners and entertaining.
The view (above) from the downstairs porch.
The family in the house: Leana and Browne with their children Violet, 13, Blue, 10 and Teal, 5.
Please follow Leana and Kids In The House on Twitter @kidsinthehouse.
All photographs by Ulrica Wihlborg ©2013.