Cheery hues and classic American style inspire a modern family in Manhattan Beach.

Although there’s not one yard of renowned Lilly Pulitzer fabric in the home of Jill and Clark Soderlund, their Manhattan Beach house oozes the breezy, Palm Beach style of the famous 20th-century doyenne of Worth Avenue. Pops of bright colors abound with plenty of light and space, while the wide floor plan is reminiscent of East Coast architecture.

In Manhattan Beach, houses are typically sited on narrow lots and built to the setback lines; however, the Soderlund’s home is a welcome anomaly. Built in the 1980s, it occupies two lots—allowing for the house to be wider than it is deep. Upon entering, it’s clear that this home has substance, style and the indelible grace of a past era.

“We remodeled and upgraded where needed, but we also camouflaged in a few places,” says Jill. The golden oak floors were replaced, and the door openings were raised to a more modern height. The oak cabinets and red brick fireplace surrounds were painted so that clean lines and crisp colors dominate. Warm, grey hardwood floors run throughout the house, while neutral tones ranging from clean white to dark grey cover the walls.

“My father, Juan Forteza, was the architect for the Palos Verdes Beach Club, and he helped us bring this house into the 21st century,” says Jill proudly.
The generous foyer is flooded with sunlight from an open staircase that floats to the second floor, while a large skylight expands the sense of space. The foyer spills into a sunken living room with light pouring in from both ends of the room. The sea grass floors set a sophisticated beach tone, while Asian influences and rich tones of red, aubergine and orange highlight areas of the room.  
The open family room boasts a fireplace, window seats and expansive windows to the backyard. Seating can be intimate for two or expanded to accommodate a party for dozens.

A wall was opened to permit better flow into the kitchen, but one would never know that Jill kept the original cabinets. “We painted them and used new hardware, so they look like new cabinets from the front,” she adds. A thick, white, marble slab countertop, new appliances and a deep, farmhouse porcelain sink complete the clean, modern look.

Jill’s decorating excels in the breakfast room, where melon-colored, mid-century wicker chairs surround a washed oak, French-style table. The 1980s trey ceilings were inset with molding to add architectural detail. The whole look is one that harkens back to the East Coast, where homes seamlessly blend old and new for a more eclectic, established look.

The rectangular dining room blasts into the 21st century with visually powerful, thick horizontal stripes painted in shades of grey and white. A gleaming white, contemporary dining table and chairs add more geometry to the space.  

Upstairs, the master bedroom wall is covered in geometric-print wallpaper harking back to the 1960s—coolly foiled in a 21st-century elegant grey. The effect is one of pattern and movement, carefully couched in a peaceful, monochromatic color scheme.

Each of the children selected the color schemes for their bedrooms. Eldest daughter, Sophia, loves the sophisticated combination of yellow and grey for her room, while twins, Audrey and William, keep photos of their respective interests tacked to the walls, thereby adding an infusion of color to the neutral color palates of their rooms.

The overriding decorating message in this part of the Soderlund home is that, while these might be children’s rooms today, the colors and bones of the room are timeless. These will easily transition into teenage and young adult rooms.

Every house has sweet spots, and in the Soderlund home, it’s the bathrooms. Jill has a knack for packing a powerful punch in small spaces.
The bathrooms feature Schumacher and Farrow & Ball wallpapers that are beautiful and fun. Her ability to marry color and scale without going overboard is evident in each room, particularly the whimsical and entertaining bathrooms, where large patterns dominate in rich color combinations.

Confidence is often imitated but rarely achieved. The Soderlund home is a rare debut in the South Bay for its wide-open, East Coast floor plan, which combines bold decorating with deft tricks of the trade. To that end, Jill Soderlund is as confident and refreshing as is her home. Obviously, she and Lilly are separated by years, not vision. •


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