Mid-Century Big Sur meets modern contemporary in Hermosa Beach.
- Written bySuzanna Cullen
From the street, the home of Leslie and Jereme Pitts appears to be a compact, modest, contemporary house. But inside the gate, the expanse of the house is apparent. The house sits on a lot that originally contained a walk street, so it has the optimal feature of a wide walkway that landscape designer Rob Jones planted with lush fiddlehead ferns leading to the front door.
“We had lived in Hermosa since the ‘90s, so when a 1980s house with a full-block lot came on the market, we bought it,” says Leslie Pitts. While the footings were saved, little else from the original house could be used.
Architect James Meyer of Lean Arch, Inc. says, “Jereme wanted a traditional home, while Leslie wanted a contemporary home. So my goal was to make this a traditional home that has been deconstructed.” By incorporating many types of woods, built-in cabinets by Randy Landis and vast ocean views, the house gives a feeling of Mid-Century California meets contemporary architecture.
The entrance to the house is created at an angle in order to optimize the views and the light. “A massive front door opens to reveal a floating, two-story staircase that is the sculptural element that centers the house and provides for a large foyer,” says James.
“James thought of everything in such a logical way that it made it really easy for us,” says Leslie. On either side of the entrance staircase are exotic wood cabinets for each person, so there is a seamless look to the designated spaces. “I didn’t want a lot of furniture in this house, so I opted for built-in cabinets wherever possible.”
Continuing with the plan of the center staircase as the pin in the center, the master suite occupies one side of the house while the children’s rooms occupy the other. Although everyone is on the same floor, the spaces are clearly defined and cleverly created.
Leslie Pitts is the founder of Lucky Jade, a luxurious but understated line of clothing and products for children. Having previously been in the women’s fashion industry, it was important to Leslie to have highly organized closets. The master suite dressing room contains beautifully crafted, custom wood cabinets.
The master bathroom has a feature common in Europe but rarely found in the United States: a wet room that contains both the shower and the toilet. In one of James Meyer’s more challenging architectural feats, a tiny teak wood closet was built into the wall of the wet room to keep toilet paper permanently dry.
The master bedroom has sweeping views of the ocean, but everything from the master bed and side tables to the hidden refrigerator flanking the fireplace is clean with built-in wood cabinetry. “I like the Scandinavian aesthetic, so I prefer simple forms and I don’t like visual clutter,” says Leslie.
Ascending the staircase to the main living floor, the ceiling commands attention. Vaulted and beamed, it’s framed with darker stained structural beams that create a powerful architectural statement and balance the floors and built-in cabinets that continue upstairs. The room is anchored by a commanding view of the ocean, and the dark mullions of the glass doors align perfectly with the ceiling beams.
Comfortable, modern furniture by luxury lines such as Ligne Roset and Kravet provides ample seating without obstructing the view or creating visual busyness. “We went slowly with furnishing the house because we didn’t want to clutter it. My mother is an interior designer, so she helped us select pieces appropriate for the space,” says Leslie.
Custom wood cabinets and clean Ceasarstone provide a warm, inviting place to create and entertain in the kitchen and dining area. The long, wood dining table has ample seating, ranging from a bench for children to European-inspired wing chairs in loose linen slipcovers for adults.
“As an avid wine collector, Jereme wanted a wine cabinet in the dining area,” says Leslie. A wood-framed, lighted cabinet provides not only convenience but is also a strong architectural and decorative feature of the dining area.
Jereme’s career is in technology sales, but his passion is artisan coffee. Leslie and Jereme both work from home in the guest bedroom that doubles as an office, so they go through a lot of coffee. Since the espresso machine requires lessons to operate, Leslie recommends visiting his new artisan coffee shop, Bar Nine Collective, opening in Culver City.
With a large house and many spaces to spread out, the Pitts family treasures their deck the most. A contemporary built-in pizza oven and grill occupy the cooking area, while a fireplace and seating area anchor the other side. “We literally live out here and cherish the view,” says Leslie.
Though the house took a year and a half to build, the process was worth the wait. “Even after having children, building a house and growing a business all in the same time frame, I wouldn’t change a thing,” says Leslie.
That’s probably the best compliment she could pay to Jereme, James Meyer and all of the people involved in creating their elegantly deconstructed Hermosa Beach home.
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