Landry says he developed his architectural philosophy at an early age, and it was readily evident when he designed his first home. "On a visit to my small hometown in ­Quebec, I noticed a 100-year-old barn that was falling down and about to be demolished. Suddenly, all my happy childhood memories of playing in barns came flooding back in vivid detail. And I thought it would be so wonderful if I could capture that feeling in a home. So I bought the timber and shipped it to California. Aged by decades of wind, rain, and snow, that old barn wood became the main building material for my hilltop Malibu home, which still comforts me. I've learned that what matters most is that the architecture should soothe your soul."

And that's something the 49-year-old Landry excels at - homing in on what makes his clients feel entirely relaxed, whether the style is influenced by a favorite travel destination, their heritage, or the place where they grew up.

Landry and his 30-member team at Landry Design Group spend a lot of time talking with clients, learning about their life experiences, travels, lifestyle, and the way they want to feel in their home. "And if they come to us and say, 'We want a Tuscan villa, or a French château,' I want to find out why," Landry says. "Is it because it's trendy, or is it that they've spent time there and love the mood? During our process of reviewing architecture books from different cultures, storyboards, pictures of old castles and villas, photos that get across different moods and landscapes, I want them to go more than skin-deep and to end up with a home that transforms them."

Landry's dedication to his clients and to the homes he designs for them is so great that sometimes a little out-of-the-office exploring is required. In 2000, Auerbach, an avid traveler who'd spent a lot of time in Mexico, Morocco, and southern Spain, commissioned Landry to design a 10,000-square-foot home in the Pacific Palisades Riviera. But she wanted a residence inspired by Andalusian architecture - a style Landry was less familiar with. "After giving him 1,000 digital images I'd taken on past trips," says Auerbach, "I convinced Richard to join me on a shopping and scouting trip in Spain, visiting dealers, artisans, and salvage sources I'd discovered in my work as an interior designer."

They stayed in hotels that were converted old mansions; measured rooms and ceiling heights to make sure they had everything in scale with sixteenth- and seventeenth-century design; found an artisan who makes beautiful tiles using centuries-old techniques that make them look hundreds of years old; and spent seven days buying antique doors, wrought-iron grilles, door surrounds, and chandeliers - all of which brought an aged character to the home ­Auerbach calls Hacienda Andaluz.

"While the home is large, it's very romantic and informal, with great flow and lots of arches. Plus, every room has a patio or balcony," explains Auerbach. "I feel like I'm on vacation in southern Spain or living on an old Spanish estancia dating back to early California, where the cattle and horses are gone but the house is still there."

Landry explains that many of the homes he's designed seem like they've always been there because he incorporates centuries-old wood, salvaged doors and grilles, antique mantels, rubble stone, and old roof tiles and uses custom wall finishes that add to the old-world vibe. "One couple who spend a lot of time in Europe had been buying architectural­ antiques for a home before they even contacted me," he says. "They asked me to call their dealer in France to get all the dimensions so we could incorporate those pieces into our design. Fortunately, when the shipment arrived, we documented every item, and the measurements were correct. The home is a simple, rambling Italian villa, but what makes it unique isn't just the 15,000-square-foot size but the architectural antiques and reclaimed materials such as the roof tiles from a convent in Italy."