A South Bay Couple Design a Home With Their Family’s Next Generation in Mind
- Written byAmber Klinck
- Photographed byManolo Langis
When architect Michael Lee first started working with clients on a new Hermosa Beach project, an interesting lot across the street became available. “They asked me if they should buy it, and I said, ‘Yes, absolutely,’” Michael notes. “It’s a very unusual property on Circle Drive—I think one of the best streets in the South Bay—and it’s an oversized lot. What could be better?”
In addition to being oversized, the lot had just the right amount of slope and a stunning view. “It was the perfect opportunity to do something fun,” Michael says. The slope permitted a build with multiple levels—none of which are fully subterranean.
“I love that each one has its own personality,” says Michael, founder of Michael Lee Architects. “The extra-wide lot allowed for a courtyard in the center of everything, which makes it a perfect spot for family to gather. The downstairs really isn’t designed to be a living room. It’s designed to be a family room with grandparents hanging out inside and grandchildren splashing around in the hot tub.”
At the start of the project, the owners weren’t quite grandparents. But they designed the home in anticipation of little ones. “Family is so important to them,” notes Lynn Pépe, design principal of Pépe Studio. “They have three boys who are all grown, but it was all about having a place for them to come home to.”
Since the project’s completion, the owners have welcomed their first grandchild into the family. They love to entertain, so they noted that nothing should be too delicate or too precious. “It’s important to have durable materials and fabrics that are more forgiving,” Lynn says.
Never once, however, was style sacrificed for durability. There’s not a corner of the house that doesn’t feel exceptional, with unique and interesting reveals found throughout the space. One that stands out immediately is the bridge on the courtyard level of the home.
“It’s kind of a trademark of ours,” Michael notes. “We do bridges in a lot of our projects; it’s something that’s followed me since design school. I love fun things, and bridges are fun.”
Lynn designed a railing along the wall that adds a subtle direction to the feature—you’re almost inclined to hold onto the rail as you walk across. “It’s one of my absolute favorites,” she says. “I love it.”
On the lower level is a wine cellar that holds up to 2,500 bottles. To say it’s impressive would be an understatement. “At night, if you’re downstairs by the wine cellar and you look up at the bridge, the way the light comes in and creates these shadows—it’s so beautiful,” Lynn says.
The kitchen, dining and family room are on the top floor of the home, along with a bar and a spacious deck with sprawling ocean views. “The choice of the dark, smoked mirror [behind the bar] was on purpose,” Lynn notes. “If we used a regular mirror, it would have been too bright with the reflection of the sun. That dark, smoked glass gives it some reflection and depth without it being too bright.”
With so many areas to congregate, this floor serves as the hub of the home. “It’s all about watching sports and cooking and the family hanging out. It’s a spectacular place to entertain,” says Michael.
“It’s a very unusual property on Circle Drive—I think one of the best streets in the South Bay—and it’s an oversized lot. What could be better?”
Another hidden gem of the home is its rooftop deck. “It’s right off the barbecue,” Michael points out. “You can take something off the grill and go right up to the roof, sit around the fire pit and have your meal.”
Stone sourced from Italy is thoughtfully placed throughout the home’s interior and exterior. “It has just enough grey, cream and white without being too yellow or too warm,” Lynn says. “It’s an absolutely beautiful material. To have it in these moments throughout the house, the stone becomes art itself. We’re so happy with the way that it turned out.”
One of the guest bathrooms features tiles made from television glass. “It’s another product from Italy,” Lynn says. “The manufacturer and the designer use the glass from recycled televisions. I love that we were able to repurpose those things. I think it’s really important that we start thinking about how we can use more products like that in construction. It’s so beautiful, it’s so cool and I love the finish.”
Lynn also helped the owners curate the collection of art displayed in the house. “It was really important to bring in color,” she says. “A lot of the artwork helps break up the home’s neutral palettes.”
This isn’t the first time Michael and Lynn have collaborated on a project. “He’s such a talented designer. He loves to be involved in every detail,” Lynn says.
“She’s not just an interior designer. She thinks about the floor plans and the flow—she has an architect’s eye toward design,” Michael adds. “We collaborated on nearly everything in that house.”