A local South Bay couple put their personal touch on a historic, 110-year-old Redondo Beach home
An oldie but goodie.
- Written byAmber Klinck
- Photographed bySiri Berting
There’s something truly special about an older home: a tiny reveal in every room, a story in all the little details. It seems that everywhere you look, there’s new construction here in the South Bay—often two houses scraped to make room for a newly-built goliath.
Now to be clear, we love those big, beautiful, brand-new homes. Every street in the Beach Cities is lined with architectural eye candy; it’s pretty spectacular. But when an older home is loved and cared for, there’s something pretty spectacular about that too.
“This house was built in 1908,” Peter Neushul says. “When we moved in, it was ‘91 or ‘92. There was paneling everywhere, and there was green carpet. We took the paneling off, and we found windows.”
The thought of covering windows with paneling may seem like an odd option, but Caroline McLean is quick to point out, “That’s what they did in the ‘60s and ‘70s.”
One of the quirks of owning a home with decades of history is navigating through decades of style preferences. Underneath the green carpet Peter and Caroline found the home’s original wood floors.
“The [home’s first] owner was a Red Car driver,” Peter mentions. “And we’ve heard he also owned a little dairy on Torrance Boulevard,” Caroline adds. “He kept their cow in the garage.”
The roughly 1,600-square-foot home sits on a nearly 6,000-square-foot lot with a freestanding garage tucked in the back. The home has five bedrooms, though some of the rooms have been converted to serve other purposes: an office, a dressing room and a seating area that Peter refers to as “the world’s smallest French theatre.”
Peter gestures to a chair in the corner of the room: “This chair is from my great-great-great-grandfather. He was a judge, and this was his judges chair from his chambers, from 1850-something,” he says.
“You have to look back here,” Peter continues. At the base of the wall there’s a small drawing of what looks like a steam tugboat. After removing the paneling on the walls and peeling back layers and layers of wallpaper, Caroline and Peter found the artwork of a young child.
“Somebody was clearly down there, quite industriously just drawing on the wall,” Caroline muses. “It must have been done in the ‘20s, because of the layers of wallpaper. We can date it, you know, like carbon dating.” Rather than cover it, Caroline and Peter carefully painted around the image. “We thought it was very funny,” Caroline says.
Every corner of the house is filled with treasures, either brought in from Caroline and Peter or preserved by them. And whether it’s the couple’s overtly warm and friendly demeanor or the appeal of a home with so much history, this Redondo Beach gem is undeniably charming.
“Pretty much everyone who comes to visit enjoys hanging out here,” Caroline says. “The scale of the rooms and their less-than-perfect charm seems to make everyone feel welcome and comfy.”
The house itself reflects only part of the magic the two have created with the space. “This is Peter’s territory,” Caroline says as she walks outside the back door of what was once a laundry room and is now a sunroom off the back of the house. “It’s like a secret paradise.”
There’s a bog for turtles, colorful koi swimming in a pond, tangerine trees, orange trees and avocado trees. They have roses blooming, figs, a coffee tree, grapevines, mangos, tomatoes and even a greenhouse. “I raise butterflies,” Peter says. “He takes the caterpillars and then puts them in his greenhouse in a special cage until they become butterflies,” Caroline adds. “And then when they’re born, he lets them out.”
Stairs lead to a guest room, the master bedroom, Peter’s office and Caroline’s stylish and oh-so-feminine dressing room on the second level of the home. The room boasts vintage Chanel, Dior, formal hats and an assortment of glass perfume bottles displayed sweetly on the vanity.
Some of the rooms upstairs have doorways that are noticeably uneven. “We think it was just built like that,” Caroline says. “In 1908, a humble little house like this—there’s usually no drawings.” The tub in the upstairs bathroom was restored after the pair discovered it hidden outside. “We found this bath buried in the backyard,” Peter notes.
For Caroline and Peter, their home is a labor of love, perfected after nearly three decades of delicate care and more than a little creativity. “There are lots of older homes in the South Bay that, with a little vision and some TLC, could also be recycled and enjoyed for many years to come. In many instances they, like ours, have lovely gardens with mature trees, interesting architectural features and were really built to last,” Caroline says.
To see a home so cherished and restored to what it was, rather than what it could be, is refreshing.