A cross-country marriage melds families and mementos in Manhattan Beach
Welcome to a household that is blended and bright.
- Written bySuzanna Cullen Hamilton
- Photographed byLauren Pressey
- Staged byKara Mickelson
If anyone had asked Diane Bradshaw or Rob Womack if they would be married and raising their children in Manhattan Beach, they would have bought the farm—and the beach. However, serendipity brought Diane and Rob together, while their desire to find the perfect family home brought them to Manhattan Beach.
Rob was born in Santa Monica but went to high school in Texas, where he met Diane. “I still hold dual citizenship as a SoCal-Texan,” says Rob.
Although they never dated, they remained devoted best friends even after Rob’s return to California. When Diane called Rob to tell him she was engaged, he jumped on a plane to Dallas to ask her to halt the engagement.
However, Diane never went to meet Rob and went through with the wedding instead.
“Our family is blessed and blended. Our home is beautifully blended, and we have blended into this amazing community.”
Thirty years passed during which Rob married and had a son, Reid, whom he raised in the Hollywood Hills. Diane married and raised two daughters in Texas, but the two never spoke again after that fateful night in Dallas.
Diane is smart and quick with the determination for which beautiful steel magnolias are renowned. Although her marriage did not last, she and her daughters created a rich life in Dallas in their gracious, traditional home filled with friends and family and decorated with her mother’s European antiques.
Diane had long adored The Beverly Hills Hotel, where she and the girls visited several times each year. However, a visit to Los Angeles for an appearance on Shark Tank changed their lives. Older daughter, Maddie, created M3 Girl Designs with younger daughter, Margot, as the V.P., and an appearance on Shark Tank brought visibility for the company while it sparked the love Diane and Rob had left dormant for 30 years.
“I found him on social media and asked him to have dinner with us when we were in town, but I had no idea it would lead to marriage and a cross-country move,” says Diane.
Soon after that dinner, Diane and Rob knew they were meant to be together, so the question became how to blend their lives. “Our focus has always been the kids, and we wanted to start our lives fresh with each other and as a family. We found that in Manhattan Beach” says Rob.
“I knew as soon as I stepped inside the front door that this was our home,” says Diane. The Spanish Colonial architecture includes a beautiful staircase with gleaming hardwood floors, high ceilings and great light. The house had the perfect number of bedrooms as well as two living spaces and a fabulous pool for their family of five.
Their move was a whirlwind that included a wedding at The Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach. “We hadn’t furnished the house, but we had wedding guests in town who wanted to see it,” says Diane. So a call to Manhattan Beach designer Caroline Burke began the process of merging their furnishings and family mementos.
“My house in Dallas was traditional and had a subdued color palette, so I wanted color at the beach. I fell in love with this brilliant Jonathan Adler geometric print,” says Diane. It now covers two club chairs in the upstairs living room that they fondly call “The Rosé Room” for the rose light it imparts when the sun sets over the Pacific and washes a soft light over the bright colors. Pops of fuchsia, orange and turquoise infuse more color into the airy space.
In the downstairs family room, Caroline created custom upholstery in a calm ivory-and-blue color scheme adjacent to the large outdoor living area and pool. The bar is a nod to their Texas roots but with a relaxed SoCal vibe.
As suddenly and beautifully as life changed in their marriage and move to Manhattan Beach, life changed alarmingly soon after their wedding. Diane was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer–a fight she continues to wage with ferocity and determination.
“I told Caroline that I wanted our bedroom to be a refuge, but I also wanted to keep some of my mother’s pieces,” says Diane. Caroline deftly incorporated many of Diane’s sentimental antiques into the bedroom while also making it a peaceful and relaxing sanctuary. The pale turquoise palette is reminiscent of the beach, but it beautifully frames Diane’s antiques and the portraits of her daughters.
Manhattan Beach and their home have become the pillars of their lives. “This community has been amazing to me during this time, and the generosity and kindness of the people here has been overwhelming,” says Diane.
Reid, 22, graduated from the University of Texas and is working in Santa Monica, while Maddie, 21, is finishing her senior year at Stanford and Margot, 17, is a junior at Chadwick. As busy as the family is, holidays are an important gathering time when the house is decorated and presents and laughter fill the rooms.
“We love ‘us’ … all of us, and friends now call us the Wom-Shaws,” says Rob. Diane agrees: “Our family is blessed and blended. Our home is beautifully blended, and we have blended into this amazing community.”
A historical Victorian, Purchased for $1, makes an amazing journey from L.A. to Manhattan Beach and gets the makeover of a lifetime.