We enlisted Los Angeles’ top talent to design a new kind of beach house
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Sleek metal railings, shining glass, and not a seastar or anchor in sight ... this is a beach house? Oh, yes. For this year’s Idea House in Manhattan Beach, we built a clean-lined, modern home and asked Los Angeles interior designers David John Dick and Krista Schrock of DISC Interiors to reinvent beach style within its walls. The result riffs on the tonal colors of the coast—and the energetic art scene in L.A.—to inspire updates in your home, no matter how far you are from the sand.
A paneled door of near-Medieval proportions—48 inches—offers a grand entrance to the home. The floors throughout are knotty French white oak. “The interaction between perfect and imperfect is what makes a modern, rustic California home,” Dick says. Plus, “the floor has so many irregularities, you don’t worry if it’s scratched.”
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When it’s high, go low
Inspired by the restaurants in downtown L.A., the designers chose a long communal table for the dining room. “We balanced the room’s huge ceilings with a low table and stools,” Schrock says. They envision the casual room as a spot for everything from working late to entertaining.
The designers flopped the dining room and living room positions. With its smaller size, the space feels like an intimate lounge—a place for talking, not TV. This room—and most of the others in the house—is painted Behr’s Ultra Pure White. “A lot of people mistake white for boring, but it’s easier to layer on top of,” Schrock says.
The double-height entry creates a lot of drama—and wall space. Schrock and Dick filled it with a ceramic wall hanging and designed the staircase with sheets of glass in place of balusters. “The glass fades out, so it’s all about the artwork,” Dick says.
“If you’re not into color, don’t force it,” says Schrock. Instead, layer texture—“shiny things with things that are matte,” for instance, says Dick. In the great room, they decorated with a glass coffee table and linen drapes.
The simplicity of a black-and-white palette keeps the wallpaper and Nero Marquina stone from looking too busy. Art: Print by Brett Cody Rogers, brettcodyrogers.com.
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“Art is what gives a home meaning.” Dick says. “Have less, but have what’s important to you.” He and Schrock commissioned works from their favorite L.A. artists to fill the house, including the ceramics and photography in the living room.
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Rethink the walls
To bring the beach inside, Dick and Schrock uploaded a shoreline image to designyourwall.com, a site that prints photographic wallpaper. They increased the photo’s exposure until the sky was white enough to blend with the ceiling.
The designers chose ebony-stained kitchen cabinets as a counterpoint to the white walls and light-colored flooring. With minimal hardware, the cabinets mimic furniture. In contrast, the handcrafted tile is “a little irregular,” Dick says. Placing perfect next to imperfect is a theme in the house—it’s what keeps it laid-back.
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Bring back the classics
A streamlined take on the china hutch—a built-in, glass-fronted cabinet—holds everyday dishes. The 2-inch-thick soapstone countertop has extra heft. “It balances the room’s height with some chunkiness,” Schrock says.
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Shake up a small space
Dick and Schrock gave the butler’s pantry a mission: prep station and storage for an amateur bartender. With that light-hearted purpose in mind, they took a playful approach to the walls.
The house next door blocked a lot of light to the room, so the designers embraced the darkness in the den with a deep mossy green wall color. A light floor and white ceiling keep the room from feeling somber.
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The bedroom was designed with serenity in mind, so the elements are few—and the colors even fewer. The bed is positioned across from a wall of windows to take advantage of the view. “The emphasis is on the view and nature, less on the furnishings,” Dick says.
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Break the rules
Convention says black and blue shouldn't mix, but the designers were inspired by the ocean's inky waves and see black as simply a subtle shift in color that's more interesting than either of the hues on their own. "It feels more tonally-inspired," says Dick of the velvet indigo wingchair against the ebony-stained TV cabinet.
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Slate-color concrete tiles cover the balcony off the master bedroom, nodding to the black pool in the yard below and the cabinetry in the bedroom. Oversize outdoor furniture turns the small deck into an outdoor sitting room.
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Put pattern on the floor
The tone-on-tone concrete tile on the floor picks up on the sandy colors in the white oak vanity and adds subtle pattern. “Using graphic prints in a tonal way keeps it from feeling overwhelming,” Dick says.
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Simple shades frame the view from the deep soaking tub. “Window coverings are expensive, so we always go with a neutral or soft gray you won’t tire of,” Schrock says.
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The moss green wall color inspired a few comforts to make this second-floor escape even more cozy: tweed-ish upholstery, and amenities like a record player and tabletop latte machine.
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Indigo ties together the splashy elements— including patterned shades and pillows, and a textured plaster mural—in the kid’s room. Art: Mural by Lisa Donohoe, londubhstudio.com.
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The kids' bathroom is tiled floor to ceiling with relatively low-cost subway tiles. “We used a common material but chose a larger size for a modern look,” Schrock says. Black grout emphasizes the scale.
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Put nature first
In the spare room, earthy tones and materials reign. Dick and Schrock say that items made of natural materials, like sea grass rugs or clear glass lamps, are often inexpensive too.
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Crackly, handcrafted tile all the way up to the ceiling contrasts with glossy white countertops in the laundry room. “We wanted to give you something pretty to look at when you’re facing the wall,” Schrock says.
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A solar thermal system lessens the home’s energy use, and the yard is drought-conscious. The lush red fescue (Festuca rubra) lawn requires little water or maintenance—it needs to be mowed only once a year.
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Keep a low profile
The long, low bench takes advantage of the sunken firepit in the backyard. Landscape design team Masterpeace Gardens used the wall of the above-ground pool as a focal point to showcase plantings of complementary deep red Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) and chartreuse Carex oshimensis ‘Everillo’.
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Connect the dots
Since the window wall between the great room and yard folds away, the designers used neutral fabrics and wovens outside too. “Carrying the same tones in and out makes spaces feel more put together,” Dick says.