Traditional statements and modern elements find harmonious synergy in a gorgeous, ocean-view Hermosa Beach home.
Blending traditional elements with contemporary designs, custom pieces and an impressive assortment of artwork, Leslie Werksman—along with some serious South Bay talent—has created a truly unique space with functionality and fearless originality at the base of every detail.
The house, built by Kim Komick of KKC Fine Homes and designed by architect Michael Lee, was in the framing stages when Leslie and her family purchased it. “I knew she was a great builder, and I loved the location,” Leslie notes. On top of Kim’s excellent reputation as a builder and the home’s killer locale, the stunning ocean views from not one but two outdoor decks catapult the property into another level of amazing.
“The whole reasoning behind building this house was to create a destination resort for my kids,” says Leslie. With a large deck on the fourth level—complete with pool, hot tub and a high glass wall to block the wind—the Werksman home most certainly provides a kid-centric environment for its youngest family members.
Also located on the forth level is an office, bathroom and wet bar area. While walking through the office, Leslie smiles and says, “My husband earned the best view.”
While heading down the stairs to the third level, Leslie points out that the railings are stainless steel. “Most of what I was trying to do in the house was minimize refinishing,” she says. “The floors throughout the house were originally going to be wood, but we have two dogs, so we did porcelain tile. It doesn’t scratch, and you don’t have to seal it.”
This practicality continues as Leslie calls attention to the floor-to-ceiling tile in the bathrooms: “That way we don’t have to worry about mold.” The baseboards along the stairs have cutouts for easier cleaning.
Of course for every practicality there’s a display of creativity that trumps it. For example, if you opted to take the elevator rather than the stairs, you’d find yourself surrounded by wallpaper made solely from the covers of The New Yorker magazine. “I’ve been collecting covers since 1985,” Leslie says.
In another office, this one located on the first level of the home, Leslie has fun with patterns and fabrics. A large houndstooth sofa with a pullout queen-size bed sits next to a chair upholstered in burlap. “I love houndstooth … there’s just something about it,” she says.
In one of the bedrooms also located on the first floor, Leslie turns old Chinese school desks into bedside tables. The second-level powder room comes equipped with antique lights. “These are from the early 1900s. We had them electrified about three houses ago, and I’ve taken them with me everywhere,” she says.
Of course she’s had some guidance along the way. “I worked extensively with a designer by the name of Kelly Teddy,” Leslie explains. “Kelly says it’s all about the yin and yang.”
This balancing act is noticeable throughout the house, with authentic Persian rugs surrounded by modern pieces, chunky stainless steel handles juxtaposed with streamlined cabinetry, exposed beams and reclaimed wood ceilings. Leslie is quick to point out, “My son gets credit for the ceilings.” It was his idea to add the wood as a contrast to the contemporary kitchen.
The master suite, bath and his-and-her closets are located on the second level of the house. The bath has walls of basket-weave skyline marble. “We wanted to achieve texture without adding color throughout the house,” Leslie says.
Converting a bedroom into her own boutique-style closet, Leslie makes the most of her space with three levels of clothing racks, the highest rack with a mechanism that allows the rack to lower to shoulder level. Her shoes and bags are stored in pre-measured compartments and displayed for easy accessibility.
But for accessory lovers, it’s her jewelry storage that takes the cake. “I wanted a place for everything, and I wanted it built-in. I had them build 2x2s for my rings and earrings, 4x4s for my bracelets and watches, and 4x8s for my belts and sunglasses,” she says.
The heart of the home—the main living space—is located on the third level. With seating for 32 people, a large deck and a kitchen designed to encourage congregation, this area is the social hub of the house.
The counters, in the kitchen and throughout the house, are Cambria. “I was drawn to the character and spectrum of their countertops … simple and wildly dynamic,” Leslie says.
In the middle of the kitchen is a massive island and chairs. “In our old house, this is where my kids lived while I was cooking, so I wanted to create an island in this kitchen where they could do that,” Leslie explains.
Walking through the kitchen, she points out the custom details that streamline her family’s day-to-day needs. In addition to two recycling compartments, there’s a trash compactor, which Leslie explains keeps her “from having to go up and down a million stairs everyday.” There are hidden towel racks, two dishwashers and a 4-foot appliance garage with everything plugged in and ready to go, which she says “keeps my family a little less messy in the morning.”
“We wanted to achieve texture without adding color throughout the house.”
The pantry was pre-measured in advance “so we wouldn’t have a corner wasted,” Leslie notes. There are designated spaces for cutting boards, pots and pans—every drawer serves a specific purpose. “Kelly, Bruce Moler from Design Support and I designed everything in this kitchen. It was important that the space worked for me and my family.”
Another key player in the creation of the Werksman home was “the superintendent on the project, Jeff Freeman,” Leslie says. “He’s truly remarkable. He’s great about utilizing the space that you have. He was almost like an invisible hand, anticipating what I needed throughout the house before I needed it.”
When asked whether the house serves as a creative outlet for the mother of three, Leslie smiles and says, “I love it, and I love working with Kelly. She has a genius about her.” With so much creativity paired with such well-executed practicality, it’s easy to see how much Leslie enjoyed working on this project alongside such an incredible team.