Manhattan Beach residents Mariya and Matt Levy initially found their current home in the Tree Section by chance. “We stumbled upon the house when we weren’t even ready to buy. Like most couples our age, attending open houses was a regular weekend activity,” explains Mariya. “We were living in Brentwood at the time and were looking to settle long-term in a place with a true neighborhood feel. A big part of that was finding a location where we could send our kids to public schools from elementary to high school. We didn’t want a house that felt too ‘new construction,’ but we knew we couldn’t handle a bunch of projects either.”
The 3,819-square-foot, five-bedroom, five-bath home, built by local firm StyleQ Construction, had just the right amount of charm and space for their growing family with three children and dog Messier. But they wanted to add their own touch with the color, artwork and accessories. Thanks to Matt’s childhood friend (also named Matt), they knew the first person to call for interior design help: his wife, Laurie Scovotti, who owns an eponymous design firm in Larchmont, New York.
“Matt and Laurie’s husband, Matt, grew up together in Westchester, New York, and have been friends since they were kids,” says Mariya. “Once Matt and I were married, we all became instant friends. Laurie’s style is very sophisticated, and I had no doubt she would do an amazing job. She also has three young kids and a similar sensibility. I lean toward a traditional style with a more modern edge to it, and that matched up well.”
Designed completely sight unseen from her New York office, Laurie relied on photos, FaceTime and careful, precise room measurements for the project, which took approximately three months. “I had them stand in every corner of each of the rooms and take photos,” recalls Laurie. “It was my first solo project on the West Coast, and everything was brand new and done from scratch, which was really fun.”
Mariya played a big part in the design and collaborated closely with Laurie. “I didn’t want the house to be washed out in only neutral tones with beige everything,” says Mariya. “I embrace color and a mix of styles, and Laurie did a great job incorporating both. Most importantly, I wanted the interior design to add as much character as possible to counteract some of that ‘newness.’”
Using Mariya’s affinity for blue and white as a jumping-off point, along with hints of green and caramel and organic materials such as rattan, Laurie also took into consideration the architectural style of the home and Mariya’s aesthetic. “The house itself gives you a beachy vibe, and we wanted to incorporate those elements and make them a little more traditional while still feeling at home in Manhattan Beach,” adds Laurie. “Mariya’s style and how she dresses is a mash-up of bohemian cool meets English country, and we wanted to translate that into the house itself.”
In the entry, Laurie chose a bleached mahogany Chateau sofa table with turned legs by Noir, a Vivienne black-and-ivory bone inlay mirror from Butler Specialty Company, and a pair of Montreuil small wall sconces by Aerin for Visual Comfort. “To me, it’s a mix that feels natural, but it’s not an expected combination,” says Laurie. “I like the details on the legs, and it’s a more formal shape done in a casual way. Bone inlay just looks good anywhere and adds this graphic punch. The sconces are kind of French 1940s, and I like the curvature of the arms and how it relates to the console. They have that grand feeling in the entry, and it sets that tone.”
Just off the entry is an open-concept living room appointed with a blue diamond-patterned rug from Serena & Lily; woven Fiji/Golden shades by Smith+Noble; a Midnight Flower ceramic garden patio stool by Safavieh; and a Willoughby sofa by Anthropologie. Adjacent to the living room, the more formal family room is anchored by a cozy fireplace and contains a tortoise pen shell coffee table from Williams-Sonoma Home and a kelly green Glenlee chair from Anthropologie in Montauk performance linen topped with a tiger-printed pillow by The House of Scalamandré for a touch of glam.
Minor changes were made in the kitchen including swapping out existing pendants for Camden lanterns by Regina Andrew and adding navy chevron-patterned counter stools by Serena & Lily to complement the existing blue island.
Upstairs in the primary bedroom, Laurie brought in more bohemian and natural-inspired accents with a Harbour Cane bed from Serena & Lily and a French-inspired Malone settee from Ballard Designs in a natural flaxen linen fabric. Mariya selected a painting of a floating woman entitled Still Waters by T.S. Harris from One Kings Lane. “Accessories are my favorite,” she says. “I just love the vibrant colors of this painting and the relaxing feeling it provokes.”
The modern-meets-English-country feel continues in the backyard replete with a Nantucket sofa from RH and a pair of whimsical blue-and-white striped Kit bamboo chairs and sunny lemon-printed ottomans by Celerie Kemble for One Kings Lane. “I wanted it to be cheerful and playful and work well for the family hanging out here but also for entertaining—ready for guests,” says Laurie. “The bamboo frame furniture and lemon prints are more Palm Beach than Manhattan Beach, but it plays into the traditional-meets-modern mix we had in mind with the whole-house design.”
When Laurie was finally able to visit post-installation day, she had a huge sense of accomplishment. “It felt so big and airy when I walked in,” she says. “It was such a relief and sense of joy. I love the mix of layers and colors. It feels like what they wanted, and I feel like they love the house. That makes me love it too.”