Engaging the Elements


Some people fall in love with a place; some people fall in love with a person. Some people are lucky enough to fall in love with both. Such is the case of Redondo Riviera residents Jill and Brad Thomas.

When Brad took Jill on a first date to Palm Desert, the two fell in love with the Korakia Pensione. Built in 1924, the Pensione is a Mediterranean-style hotel with Moroccan architectural influences. Stone and wood comprise the buildings while citrus and olive trees fill the gardens. The aesthetics of both the Pensione and Palm Desert struck a deep chord with Jill and Brad, and it was no surprise when they later married at the Pensione.

While living in the Redondo Beach Riviera, Jill and Brad watched a modern house come to life during construction. Sited directly opposite Torrance Beach, the house is just a step from the ocean.

Combining magnificent ocean views with an abundance of natural materials, the new house intrigued both of them. Brad won the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race in 2011, and being in the ocean is part of his daily routine. Jill is from Colorado, where “materials such as wood and stone are integrated into every home,” she says.

The house came on the market before the interior or landscaping was fully finished. Jill and Brad jumped at the chance to own it, and they were thrilled to put their mark on several facets of the house. They installed beautiful light wood floors that echo the light stone and paint colors used throughout the house.

Jill notes, “The yard was a perfect blank canvas for us to re-create the desert landscaping we love in Palm Desert.” Now lime trees surround the garden and outdoor kitchen, and an abundance of plants native to the desert landscape surround the house.

High ceilings, clean lines and clear vistas are reminiscent of the desert, and they are perfectly balanced within the Thomas house. It emanates a peaceful, quiet elegance with its neutral color palate, yet it is countered with the crisp lines, stone floors and expansive views created by large win outside their door or the desert where they married, the sedate tones of nature define the Thomas home.

However, the tone changes in baby Duke’s room, where green safari wallpaper turns his nursery into a fun, hip room that he can grow into. Dark woods mix with crisp white and pops of grass-green for a stimulating and entertaining environment. Given that he is named for his grandfather’s surfing companion and icon, little Duke will inevitably have the magnanimous personality to accompany his brilliant room.

It is evident that Brad’s and Jill’s affair with the desert is not complete. It remains to be seen if more mid-century modern pieces will find a place inside, or whether oleander bushes and date palms will dot the landscape. What is certain is that this home will continue to evolve as this family grows.

Like the couple who fell in love with each other and a specific place, this house will continue to be a perfect marriage of desert and ocean … young and old … hard and soft.

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