Volume 13, Issue 83  |  October 15, 2021

Haven Laguna and the Hygge lifestyle: the art of creating intimacy in your surroundings


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Mara Samuels, owner of Haven Laguna, references the Danish word Hygge to describe her shop. “Hygge is a sense of being ‘consciously cozy’ or ‘the art of creating intimacy’ or ‘the pursuit of everyday happiness.’”

According to the land of Nord, it is “the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things.” It is a word used to acknowledge a special feeling or moment. It can be alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary, but it is always comforting, charming or special.

Hygge is a state of mind – and lifestyle – that Haven embodies so well. 

haven and closeup Mara

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Mara Samuels, owner of Haven Laguna

Samuels launched her interior goods and design shop the first week of December 2020 with limited inventory due to the delay in the shipment of goods during COVID. In the absence of display tables, she set up picnic tables. Even then, on my first visit to the space, it had a welcoming and serene aura. 

There’s no doubt it was tricky to open during that time, but Samuels says, “It always felt right and the response has been amazing. The Laguna Beach community has been so complimentary and supporting.” 

In addition to interior design accessories, Haven is the perfect local shop to pick up a quick hostess or housewarming gift.

“I’m really happy,” she continues. “I’ve had a lot of locals come in, repeat customers and out-of-towners. Fifty percent of my customers are from Phoenix who visit here in the summer. Locals just pop in to say, ‘hi’ or they need a wedding or birthday gift.”

haven laguna exterior

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Haven Laguna opened in December 2020

Now, more than 10 months after the doors opened, Haven is filled with items of every sort to make your home overflow with warmth. It is a cornucopia of home goods, candles, jewelry, furniture, accessories and linens. One of the most popular items in the shop is Samuels’ sumptuous assortment of pillows in natural fabrics. 

Also on display are a variety of natural fiber area rugs – with samples available to try out in your own abode. 

“I love textures and items that are natural and organic,” Samuels said.

Haven supports community artists – two of Laguna artist Todd Kenyon’s paintings hang in the shop. Samuels features jewelry from local artisans and stocks Civetta candles with accompanying rose quartz message stones.

“When possible, I really like to source my products from local artisans and companies,” she said. “I think it is important to support the community that we all share, and I know that the locals and visitors agree. With shipping costs being astronomical now, I love that I have such a great network of local talent to pool from.”

There’s always something new to see. Back-ordered merchandise from last December shows up without announcement. “I never know when something will arrive,” said Samuels, which is exciting for her customers.

To keep up with new merchandise, go to Haven Instagram @havenlaguna.

haven laguna Halloween

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Vintage Halloween décor will soon make way for Christmas cheer

Haven is all decked out with Halloween décor – black cats, pumpkins and vintage handmade decorations, but come October 31, they will come down and the Christmas decorations will go up. For the holidays, Haven will feature chocolates and toffees along with unique merchandise and ornaments.


Haven is housed in a 1929 building that was previously a print shop – next to a courtyard of quaint cottages. “The owners wanted to retire,” said Samuels, “and they asked, ‘why don’t you take over the space?’” 

At the time, she was working for Skyline Kitchen and Bath – which is next door to Haven – doing a remodel. 

“This space was run down but the thought of bringing it back to life was part of the joy of creating the store,” Samuels said. 

haven laguna corn

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Natural fabrics and vintage furniture

Samuels’ passed on her entrepreneurial spirit to her family. Her son Duran helps her with the business – in addition to launching his own line of gourmet spices – and her daughter Talia is founder and president of Outshine Public Relations in Corona del Mar. 

Among the many renovations she undertook, Samuels put in new floors and. Windows, along with and flower beds in front of the store. 

“As an artist, I love taking something old and reimagining and creating it into something new,” she said.

It seems Samuels has always been involved in some way with houses and design. She was in real estate for 10 years while she lived in Coto de Caza. She was set to remodel the Coto de Caza general store and center when the project fell through. Then Samuels started designing for Skyline Kitchen and Bath. 

haven laguna linens

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Lots of linens 

It’s no surprise that another of Samuel’s passions is architecture. She adheres to the philosophy of getting the foundation right – and she has done just that with Haven. 

“I sell home interior and gifts, but I am also a home designer and love to work with my clients on remodeling home projects,” she said. “I have customers that come in and they want to redo their whole house but have no idea how. I love helping them do that.”

When she says house remodel, she means inside and out. “I love everything from reimagining the elevation to the landscaping.”

The thought of opening a store started when she was in college. 

“As an art student, I have always had a creative spirit and originally I was planning to be an architect,” said Samuels, who earned her design degree at Saddleback College

haven laguna candles

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Choices for hostess and housewarming gifts 

 “Surrounding yourself with what you love creates that feeling of Hyggee, and we want you to feel that in your own home always,” said Samuels. “That’s what Haven is all about. Helping you find beautiful treasures that you can bring home and create that special feeling within your own space.”

It seems Haven Laguna has exceeded Samuels’ expectations as her dream shop.

“I’m so excited to come in here every day. People say the vibe is good,” she said.

Go check it out for yourself. Haven beckons you to come inside and wander around. You won’t want to leave.

Haven Laguna is located at 435 N. Coast Highway.

It is open seven days a week from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Haven gift wraps, ships and delivers.

For more information, go to, or call 949.939.5553.


Lana Johnson, Editor -

Tom Johnson, Publisher -

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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