What’s the Password? Speakeasy Uncovered in 1930s Home | ICONIC LIFE

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What’s the Password? Speakeasy Uncovered in 1930s Home

Photography by Christopher Lee Photo

A prohibition-era speakeasy was found inside this charismatic home built in the 1930s.

While starting a new project in Long Beach, the last thing Interior Designer Mindy Laven expected to find was a speakeasy hidden behind a pivoting wall. 

“The speakeasy dates back to prohibition times and even retains the original liquor labels from the 1930s on the walls along with handwritten notes scribed on the walls from past guests,” Laven says. “Where it was located was slated to be in the new kitchen, so we revised the floorplan to save the prohibition room by opening it up from the side and making it into a speakeasy.”

“Antique mirrored tiles were used on the ceiling of this room to create drama and nod back to the original house,” she added.

The project, called The Cedar House, was a collaboration between Laven and Alison White Homes, with Watson Bros as the builder and Architect Steven Sennikoff.

“Jenni Kayne was kind enough to bring in some of the furnishings for us,” Laven adds. 

The beautiful 4000-square-feet period home, built in the 1930s, features a Georgian architectural style with 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. At the start of the project, the home was completely original except for one bathroom.


“It was almost as if it was frozen in time. The project was quite extensive,” Laven says. “Most areas were completely gutted. We retained as much of the original character of the home as possible. Stair railings, wall moldings, and a hidden speakeasy were all kept and renovated.”

Laven’s goal was to update the floor plan and design in a way that reflected and honored the original home but in a livable, functional and contemporary way.

“There were many many custom details that we found necessary to add to live up to the provenance of the house,” Laven says. “Where we could, we left the original vent covers which were quite lovely.”

“For the wallpaper in the speakeasy, we used a pattern that depicted monkeys smoking cigars and drinking cocktails and it seemed like the perfect tongue-in-cheek nod to the purpose of the room,” she adds.


The memorable door for the speakeasy is a bookcase that opens a secret door, keeping with the prohibition-time theming. 

For the rest of the home, Laven drew inspiration from the checkerboard style flooring at the entry.

“The black and white checkerboard floor at the entry feels so signature to the house. The perfect jumping-off point for the rest of the design,” she says. “Beautiful white oak wood flooring throughout, traditional Clarence House wallpaper in the entry, marble counters in the kitchen, and custom-built cabinetry were big-budget items.”

The exterior of this home also received its fair share of the budget with new landscaping, a sparkling pool, a new garage and a custom portico at the front door. 

“The majority of the budget went to updating systems—the not so fun stuff—and new doors and windows,” Laven says. “This house needed everything from new plumbing, electrical, sewer, air conditioning, heating, to the new roof! We spent over $150,000 on the stuff you can’t see before we could even get to the fun stuff. The doors and windows were another $100,000+, but we wanted to do them correctly to maintain the integrity of the house.”

While honoring the history behind the home, it’s been transformed into a modern, drink aficionado’s paradise, with speakeasy included. No password required.

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