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Pro Portfolio: A Manhattan Beach house wide open to the views

August 23, 2010 |  8:00 am


On Mondays we post a new home whose design is presented in the architect's or the interior designer's own words. This week:

Architects:  Rockefeller Partners, El Segundo. Interior design: Alana Homesley, Alana Homesley Interior Design, Woodland Hills. Lighting design: Dave McCarroll, KGM Architectural Lighting, El Segundo. Contractor: Jeff Wilson, Wilson Construction, Manhattan Beach. Landscape architect: John Feldman, Ecocentrix, Santa Monica

Project location: Manhattan Beach

Goal: to create a modern beach house that reflects the homeowners'  love of southeast Asia

Architects' description:  This is the second commission for this particular client,
who has never lived more than a few blocks from the beach. The three-story, 4,500-square-foot home places the public spaces on the highest floor, affording them the best views. Private spaces are placed on the middle floor, and the ground floor houses the beach room and family room that is accessible to the walkway street, just steps from the beach. This ground floor also houses a home office and a covered parking area, a luxury in such a densely populated area. By making use of every inch of space and applying smart space planning principals, the home offers privacy and expansive views, without feeling crowded by its neighbors. Special features include the pebble-floored master bath with automatic privacy
control windows that overlook the zen garden and the zebrawood and red marble chef's kitchen. Add to that the folding walls that blur indoors and out, a fireplace on the glass-railed balcony with expansive views of the Californian sunset, and the dramatic cantilevered staircase that doubles as a thermal chimney pulling cooler air upward through the home and pushing hot air out the clerestory.

Keep reading for more details and photos ...


The three-story house is just 24 feet wide, with a 3-foot setback on both sides. The broad concrete stairs lead to the mahogany front door and entryway.


Just inside the front door, the teak staircase leads visitors to the public living areas on the top floor. The stairs are flanked by a Iowa limestone wall and screen, which extends through the house from the ground level to the third floor. At night, the row of uplights illuminates the space.


The staircase supports the screen, which was assembled in pieces using mahogany slats.


The roof of the house was "split" in order to create ceilings of different heights. Here, the lowered ceiling creates a more intimate space for conversation in the living room. A flat-screen TV is concealed behind the antique Chinese window screens, which were backed with mirror to bring more light into the space.



A variety of woods were used in the house, including teak for the floor, tongue-and-groove stained cedar for the ceiling, and mahogany for the doors and windows. The contemporary ladder-back chairs are by Christian Liaigre.



Just outside the living room, a fireplace, set in a limestone wall, helps to ward off the evening chill. Radiant heaters also were installed in the roof overhang.



Awning windows pop out to bring ocean breezes into the dining area, where Jiun Ho chairs, upholstered in soft green leather, pull up to the custom walnut table by Hudson Furniture. The custom pendant was designed by Alana Homesley.The accordion doors, at right, open onto a deck with a view of Malibu.


The family room and kitchen are at the rear of the house. Gray limestone was used for the dining peninsula and the backsplash. The custom cabinets are zebrawood; the countertops are red marble.  



In the master bedroom, on the house's middle level, space was carved out of the wall to create niches for the headboard and desk. The deck appears to float in space, protected by a one-half-inch-thick glass wall set in a deep concrete channel.


Alana Homesley designed the teak headboard and wall-mounted nightstands. The brass Beat pendant is by Tom Dixon


Ann Sacks' Bellarita marble tile was used on the freestanding wall in the master bath. Two showerheads are on the other side of the wall, creating an open-air shower room. For privacy, the electro-chromatic glass in the windows becomes translucent with the flip of a switch. Pebble floor tiles also by Ann Sacks; freestanding bathtub by Waterworks.


All the rooms look out on the open-air zen garden at the heart of the house. The custom fountain, weighing at least a ton, was put in place with a crane.  


The ground-level family room opens to the patio, just off the walkway to the beach. The gate, at right, conceals an outdoor shower.The stained cedar cladding, upper left, adds warmth to the house's stucco and concrete facade. 

-- Anne Harnagel

Photos by Eric Staudenmaier