Living inside a masterpiece


Jene and Jean Laman stand outside their recently renovated home.

Photo by Diana Furman | Lifestyle Reporter

Diana Furman

Behind an iron gate and shrouded in greenery stands a piece of art that houses the artists themselves.

After almost 40 years of teaching, Jene and Jean Laman, retired interior design and fiber arts professors, respectively, created their largest work of art yet. With the help of A. Gruppo Architects Andrew Nance and Thad Reeves, they transformed their 30-year-old ranch-style home into a piece of modern art.

Jene Laman got his start with interior design after banking for 18 years. He decided to go back to school at The University North Texas to pursue his true passion. It was there he found the two greatest loves of his life — his future wife and his future career.

Jean Laman said she first noticed Jene Laman in an art class she was taking. She was sitting in the back of the classroom with her friends when she saw Jene Laman walk in and sit in the front. She instantly got up and sat next to him.

“I saw him come in and I just thought, ‘That’s a cute guy. I’ve got to move over there,’” Jean Laman said.

That moment would eventually lead to 46 years of adventurous, artistic marriage.

Jean Laman said she decided to teach at Texas State after hearing about the success of the art program. Jene Laman followed suit after his wife encouraged him to teach interior design. He was hesitant at first because he feared to talk for an hour in front of a large group of students. However, once Jene Laman started teaching and building relationships with his students, he quickly overcame his fears.

“Teaching was the best profession I could have ever fallen into,” Jene Laman said.

Jean Laman said she has always been a talkative, friendly person and enjoyed the setting teaching provided for her. She learned constantly from her students and found their work inspiring.

Jean Laman hired Caprice Pierucci, senior art lecturer, fact checked  to teach her classes while she went on sabbatical. Pierucci considers Jean Laman her mentor.

“She really was such a wonderful teacher and a gracious person,” Pierucci said. “Everyone just loved her here.”

Teaching allowed the Lamans to pursue their love of traveling. For about 12 years, the Lamans traveled with students to Sante Fe and New York for Study in America programs. Their trips included visits to art exhibits, museums and Broadway shows.

After years of teaching and traveling, the couple decided to retire and take on their next project — renovating their home.

The Lamans collected magazine clippings and inspiration photographs for years. They had a clear idea for the design in mind and worked closely with the architects in order to achieve their dream.

“We really wanted to remain active in our retirement,” Jene Laman said. “We wanted to keep that young feeling students used to provide for us.”

Rather than downsizing after retirement, the Lamans decided to create a space that would suit their lifestyle. They wanted a home that could accommodate their art studio, gallery, and occasional visits from children and grandchildren.

The house took about three years to complete and was finished in 2015. The main area is comprised of two towers that connect to the rest of the house with a walkway. Between the towers sits a large window that looks out onto a canopy of trees. Every inch of the contemporary-style home is covered in art.

“We wanted there to be something interesting to look at no matter where you are,” Jene Laman said.

A mixture of antiques and modern style creates an energetic, beautiful atmosphere. Natural light seeps into every corner of the house, highlighting the pieces of art the Lamans have created and collected over the years.

“They really do ‘live the art,’” Pierucci said.

Jean Laman enjoys sharing interests and hobbies with her husband, and she admires the work he does with their home.

“I love to take a nap or something, get up, and find he’s done something totally different in the house,” Jean Laman said.

The Lamans’ love of oddities and old objects is visible throughout the house. Their artistry is reflected in closet doors made from an armoire, curtains printed with antique book pages and a flower pot made from an airplane part.

“We’ve had an amazing life, we really have,” Jean Laman said.

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