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Lawless Design

Intrepid designer, Hannah Oravec dismisses expected conventions to achieve a chill Cape Cod vibe.

When Mumi and Ahn Phan purchased a property in the coastal Cape town of Mashpee last fall, they wanted this home to be a family retreat for the upcoming holidays—a tall order with the holiday season under 10 weeks away. Thankfully, Lawless Design, an interior design firm in Plymouth, was fearless in taking on this substantial task. 

The Mashpee home is a clean, modern aesthetic, built in the last decade, but what it lacked in heritage, it made up for with potential. The Phans purchased the property with the goal of having the home’s interior fully updated, furnished, and finished by Thanksgiving, 2020. Measurements were taken by the design firm at the end of September, the Phan’s closed on the home in October, and from there the clock was ticking.

The full-service design firm, founded in 2016 by Hannah Oravec, specializes in residential projects. The firm’s namesake is taken directly from Oravec’s family lineage: her great-grandmother’s maiden name. The Lawless name holds dual meaning to Oravec, one being the familial ties, the other representing Oravec’s approach to design style.  

“I like to work with clients and say, ‘There are no rules! We can take risks and do different things,’”  Oravec says. “I think that’s what is fun about design—being innovative and not just doing everything completely cookie cutter.”

The company name is not the only familial influence Oravec had in creating Lawless; her childhood was filled with experiences watching her father renovate their home and helping where her little hands could. This grounded in her a love for creating, and she knew from a young age her future career would be one of creativity and design. 

What distinguishes Lawless from other firms is its commitment to incorporating wellness into design. Oravec is accredited with WELL, an organization focused on, “Advancing health and well-being in buildings globally…[and] improving health and human experience through design.” Choices like using low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paint, sourcing locally when possible, and reusing vintage furnishings in the designs, make the final product healthier for clients and for the planet. 

Oravec earned degrees in design and business from Endicott College in Beverly, MA. In 2016, Oravec took the leap and officially established Lawless Design. It operates out of her home that she shares with her husband—and at times their barn—in Plymouth. While Oravec is the mastermind behind Lawless Design, her visions and designs would not be made possible without the skilled assistance of others, which is especially true for this project.

Designers Services, based in Woburn received all large furniture deliveries for the project, even assembling the items upon delivery to the Mashpee home. The herculean tasks of repainting the entirety of the interior and stripping and refinishing the floors was taken on by experts referred by the clients. This was a necessary first step for the redesign; the existing paint and floors were, according to Oravec, a mess compounded by the previous owner’s many animals. Her trusted electrician and handyman were brought in to handle wiring, repairs, and installation of lighting, built-in features, and other minor finishing projects. 

The rapid timetable for the project’s completion made setting a tone of trust and decisiveness with her clients essential from the get-go. The Phan’s had a thematic design going into the project: “Cape Chill” as Mumi coined it, which focused on a bright and casual scheme that evoked the Cape’s style without wading into cliché territory. Neutral tones provided a backdrop for accents of colors reflecting the blues of the nearby ocean and Cape Cod summer skies. It is a quiet design, sophisticated-yet-livable, and equally suited for the home’s use as a family retreat and as a rental property, a purpose the clients wanted considered into the design. 

To achieve “Cape Chill,” common spaces were painted in a crisp decorator’s white for the walls, with white trim and ceilings to match, while bedrooms received a softer off-white paint. Multiple seating options—sofas, armchairs, benches and dining chairs—all in hazy beach tones pepper the open living spaces. Oravec joked that the client’s wanted to fit in as many beds as possible into the home, and with four beds and a convertible daybed in the study, there certainly are many options for resting one’s head. The matching double beds in the children’s room and the upholstered headboard of the queen guest bed are finished in palettes of sun-bleached driftwood and sand, while the master bedroom’s simple black canopy frame of the bed is offset by the neutral upholstered headboard. 

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