A Change of Scenery
A South Bay couple says goodbye to their family home and hello to the beach house they’ve always wanted.
- Written byAmber Klinck
Two perky blondes with wet noses excitedly greet their new houseguest at the door. “Are you OK with dogs?” Kathryn and Gary Lane ask as they nudge past Kylie and Kevin, two ridiculously adorable golden retrievers. The Lanes live in a newly remodeled home on a hillside in the Hollywood Riviera area.
At first glance the home is charming—to say the least. Banana trees grow in the friendly, well-groomed yard at the front of the house. Behind a yellow front door, light grey French oak floors and white walls set the tone for the beach-inspired abode. “We liked the driftwood look,” Kathryn notes.
Little details add immediate appeal, with panel molding in the entryway and tongue-and-groove vaulted ceilings in the family room. But as you walk a little further into the home, there’s a dramatic shift from charming … to wow.
Through the massive retractable doors that open the entire back wall of the great room are sweeping views of blue. “Yeah, that’s why we moved here,” Gary notes.
Make your way outside, and the horizon expands to include the Hollywood sign, Downtown Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Pier and Point Dume. “I wanted a view; I wanted to see the waves break,” Gary says. “We can even see the whales,” Kathryn adds.
Added features include a grill area, lounge seating, a fire pit and an infinity-edged hot tub. “We made it a little deeper so you can stand and look over the side,” Gary notes. This backyard is geared for hours of seascape appreciation.
But it wasn’t always like that. “You couldn’t even see the ocean from the house,” explains Kathryn, referring to the initial property, which was built in 1953.
At roughly 1,400 square feet, the original house—to put it mildly—“was a fixer-upper,” Gary says. As president, designer and general contractor of Lane Design + Build, the condition of the existing home was not a factor for him. “I didn’t care what the house looked like because that’s what I do; that’s my business. All I needed was a great location.”
Although many of their friends and family were shocked by their decision to leave their 4,500-square-foot Redondo Beach home, Kathryn and Gary were set on building their dream house by the sea. Growing up in Hermosa, Gary “always liked the Hollywood Riviera, because it’s elevated and you’ve got the views.”
For Kathryn, it all came down to the faith she had in her husband. “He had a vision, and I just went with it because I know what he can do and I trusted him,” she explains. “He saw everything finished in his head before we moved in.”
The project was extensive. Gary moved the front door and the entryway, turned the driveway into the family room, turned the garage door to face the street, opened the ceilings and built a master suite. The kitchen, living room and dining area became a great room with airy vaulted ceilings, tons of natural light and ocean breezes coming from every angle.
The kitchen has a panel-ready refrigerator, freezer and warming oven, two sinks, quartzite countertops and a clear tile backsplash that picks up the tonal blues from the ocean.
“We’re very casual,” Gary says. “We wanted a casual elegance.”
Off the garage is a mud room with a dog door and ample storage. Next to that is the wine cellar. “When we have parties, everyone comes in here. It’s the hangout spot,” Gary says.
The space is small but oh-so-cool. With a tin ceiling, chalkboard wall full of messages from fellow wine aficionados, a fully stocked bar and a chandelier, it’s easy to see how the space could quickly fill with partygoers.
The home’s original three bedrooms remain. “We just re-did the closets and got rid of the popcorn ceilings,” Kathryn says. But the master suite is completely new. “When I was doing the bedroom I knew that when I woke up, I wanted to look down and see the beach,” Gary notes. Mission accomplished.
The room sits catty-corner with the bed overlooking a wall of windows that face the water. Above the bed is a window to the shower for a peekaboo view of the beach below. The rest of the bathroom is a compilation of design elements the couple picked up over their years of travel.
And a dream tub. “I am huge bath-taker,” Kathryn says. “Have you been to Lush?”
With a steep hillside and small lower lot included on the property, Kathryn and Gary went to work on maximizing their outdoor space. What was once an empty dirt lot is now a guesthouse with a two-car garage, a full bath and a putting green. Along the pathway heading down from the main house is a garden that grows avocados, apricots, plums, pears, tangerines and veggies.
Though Kathryn and Gary are technically empty-nesters—“Our kids are all off to college; it’s just us and the two dogs,” Gary notes—there are rooms allocated for both their son and daughter.
Stunning views and master craftsmanship aside, the home has a welcoming energy that has everything to do with its residents. With more than 30 years of experience building homes in the South Bay, Gary exudes the excitement and enthusiasm of a professional who is truly passionate about what he does.
Together Kathryn and Gary have created a home that is as equally beautiful as it is inviting. And a space to enjoy with loved ones for years to come.
What’s the recipe for success when cooking with kids? It depends on your perception and willingness to take it all in stride.