Various vernaculars culminate seamlessly after a family’s cross-country move.
- Written bySuzanna Cullen
The simple fact that our country has so many diverse design aesthetics continues to keep American shelter publications fresh. From the smaller scale and historical homes of New England to the grand, formal interiors of the South … from the simple Midwestern vernacular to the relaxed vibe of California, American interior design is most frequently defined by location and lifestyle. Manhattan Beach residents Susan and Barry Cottle are Midwesterners by birth, but their life with four children has taken them from one side of the United States to the other. “We became part of the community and neighborhood of each city, and our homes have reflected those places,” says Susan.
In their huge, formal Atlanta and Dallas homes, Susan’s decorating reflected the traditional aesthetic and grand scale of those residences. Today, her Chippendale-style dining room furniture has found a new home in her distinctly Cape Cod-style home in the South Bay, where it melds with beach colors and soft light.
The Cottle residence was designed and built by Gary Lane. When Susan and Barry saw it, they knew they had found their new home. The house commands a corner lot, and that was the defining architectural element for Gary.
“Corner lots often become a beacon or landmark for the street,” he says. “Our main objective for this house was to bring in an East Coast reference with the wrap-around porch, interior details and the living room shape that mimics a lighthouse.”
The Dutch door opens to reveal a double-height living room with bead-board walls, a soaring ceiling and double rows of windows that truly lend a lighthouse feel. An exquisite sweeping staircase further incorporates elements of the East Coast and provides a powerful architectural element in the home.
Gary notes that “open concept floor plans are not appropriate for this style of house,” so traditional elements such as a designated living room and formal dining room anchor the Cottle home floor plan.
Susan hired South Bay interior designer Caroline Burke to help integrate her Southern antiques and art into her newly constructed Southern California home. “The first thing we did was bring in mellow tones found on the beach so that it softened the palate of the traditional furniture,” says Caroline.
The turquoise colors of the traditional Oushak rug in the living room are grounded by the baby grand piano, a feature de rigueur in all Southern homes where children take piano lessons, as have the Cottle children.
“We incorporated many elements of our lives into this home,” says Susan. “Our children have always played the piano, and we began collecting paintings in the South. So the impressionist style and soft colors integrated well into our Manhattan Beach home.”
The back of the house reveals a large kitchen and open family room with a fantastic pool and outdoor entertaining area beyond. “Atlanta’s influence of French antiques is noticeable in our breakfast area, where we use our French table and chairs every day,” says Susan.
With abundant California sunshine and mild temperatures, it’s likely that the newly constructed outdoor kitchen and dining area will be as frequently used as those inside.
The Cottle family is not small. Currently six people, three dogs, a cat, a rabbit and two pet rats comprise the family, but there’s an ongoing discussion about the possibility of the addition of a miniature pig. Fortunately, an abundance of rooms and storage spaces ensure that each person has his or her own bedroom with plenty of communal family space, as well as designated spaces for the menagerie of pets.
The bedrooms are all airy with wonderful light and views. Whether from a bedroom balcony or even from the master bedroom closet, every room has a view. Additional rooms in the house include a weight room,
a wine cellar and a large laundry room.
“We’ve moved around so much, but this is home,” says Susan. “I’ve gotten very attached to the healthy lifestyle in Southern California as well as access to the beach for the kids, and we really enjoy our life here.”
From coast to coast with stops in between, the Cottle family has evolved in every capacity. Their expanding collection of antiques and paintings reflects the influences, memories and creations of all of the places they’ve called home. A lighthouse not only anchors their corner lot, but it roots the entire family in the South Bay.
LIKE THE LOOK? WE RECOMMEND…
Lafco room candle (marine)
$60Gum Tree, gumtreela.com
$645Jonathan Adler, jonathanadler.com
$125Maison Luxe in Hermosa Beach, maisonluxhome.com