It’s said, by way of an age-old proverb, that familiarity breeds contempt. But in the case of this Manhattan Beach project, familiarity proved to be key to its success. “I had lived here myself, so I really got to know the property,” recalls interior designer Andrika King, explaining that, for several years, she and her family had rented the home formerly occupying it. When the current owners opted to tear down the 1940s structure and build their dream house in its place, they tapped none other than King herself to handle the interior design and provide input on spatial planning. “I was so intimately familiar with the lot, its light and its patterns,” she says.
Using every inch of the expansive grounds was paramount. “Our clients were looking to maximize their outdoor space,” notes architect Louie Tomaro, who factored these wishes into the new plans. While many homes in this beachside neighborhood concentrate their living spaces on upper levels to capture Pacific views, he went against the grain and proposed creating a residence focused on an uninterrupted flow to the exteriors instead. He also placed the primary bedroom suite into one corner of the ground floor with access to the garden. “Since this might be the owners’ forever home, it gives them the option to one day transition into a single-story living situation,” the architect explains.
The abode’s seamless connection to the backyard makes outdoor entertaining a breeze—which was an important factor for the clients. And to better accommodate for indoor gatherings too, Tomaro decided to dig down. “Adding a basement enabled us to maintain more of the yard space,” he points out. Eventually, the 4,500-square-foot subterranean space grew to include a bar, gym, sauna and bowling alley. But this punch list wasn’t without a few hiccups. “The biggest challenges we encountered were logistics and supply chain issues,” recalls general contractor Rick Hall. “For example, we needed the bowling alley’s components delivered and installed before we could even start framing the first floor above.”
Tomaro steered the abode’s design toward a simpler, more contemporary look than the traditional house the clients had originally envisioned. “We tried to minimize the amount of detailing so it would feel lighter and more streamlined,” he explains. “It worked its way into a cleaner, more modern style as we went.” On the lower level, steel-framed windows and doors finished in a deep gray to soften their industrial aesthetic blur the line between indoors and out. “You really feel like you’re part of the landscape,” enthuses Tomaro.
And the open, inviting interiors are flooded with light. “There’s some separation between the rooms, but they’re not the small, compartmentalized spaces you sometimes see on the East Coast,” notes King, who worked closely with her firm’s lead designer, Jen Hart, throughout the project. “You still have a sense of flow and discovery.” That easy rhythm is amplified by a subtle repetition of materials and colors. “The idea was to have a classic home, but with modern elements that could withstand time,” remarks King. “It’s a casual and sophisticated coastal house, with a flexible design plan that won’t go out of style.”
Indeed, given the family’s penchant for entertaining, durability was key. Tumbled-limestone flooring was chosen for its ability to ride out the antics of children and the family’s energetic pack of dogs. Antiques hold pride of place for the same reason: nicks and scratches can only enhance their patina. A simple palette of serene white, taupe, brown and delicate robin’s egg blue grounds the home, while wood paneling—and carpentry by O’Rourke Construction Inc. throughout—emphasizes its warmth.
Upstairs, King enlivened this tranquil assortment of hues and materials with wallpapers and tiles. Meanwhile, the subterranean level’s moodiness is underscored by Douglas fir, textured brown paint and raw brick. “It feels like you’re heading into a private club,” King comments with a smile. Her enthusiasm extends to the whole residence. “It’s welcoming, comfortable and a half-mile from one of L.A.’s best beaches. It’s kind of a unicorn in this neighborhood. What more could you want?”