Coastal charm blends effortlessly with family fun and function in Manhattan Beach.
- Written byKatrina Zawojski
When Jeff and Jessica Tarango decided to update their Manhattan Beach cottage, creating just enough space for quality family time was a top priority. “Large enough for a family of seven yet not too large where anyone would feel separated from the pack,” explains Jeff of their ideal home size.
With a modest 2,000 square feet of space to work with, uniting the “pack” of five kids ages 3 to 16 seemed like a tall order to fill. Yet with a little creativity, they were able to achieve their vision.
Working closely with architect David Watson and interior designer Lorena Pulichino, Jeff and Jessica maximized every square inch of their corner lot, favoring clarity over clutter whenever possible. This is why you encounter a Harry Potter closet built within the entry staircase and accordion doors that open onto the patio from the second-story office. Even their built-in breakfast nook, which can handle a hearty Thanksgiving feast, features pull-out drawers for extra storage space.
The kitchen, or “hive” of the home, always buzzes with morning chatter, afternoon schoolwork and evening mealtimes. It succeeds in reflecting the couple’s appreciation for streamlined design, like the cupboard and appliance flushed together to create a clean, uniform look.
Thick slabs of Carrera gold marble grace the countertops and a large center island, where on any given night you might dine with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Chewbacca instead of three boys. This is nothing out of the ordinary for the Tarango family, who hoped for a creative space for everyone to dream, play and unwind together.
For imaginations to truly run wild, David Watson designed a bunk room made especially for sleepovers. Each of the four individual beds is equipped with its own night-light, and the top level features two small windows resembling the inside of a ship (for the kids’ imaginary long journeys at sea). With the children and their friends all nestled in the bunks and additional teepees sprawled across the floor, you’ll likely have to address this crew as the Lost Boys.
Just around the corner is another tailor-made space. By converting one of the smaller bedrooms into a playroom, the boys can hide in their “office,” playing PS3 and using the adjacent desk area for crafts and computer work.
“They can re-imagine their space into a faraway land with the safety of Mom and Dad right down the hall,” explains the couple. “Some nights they even invite us adults inside to play.”
Throughout the home, dark hardwood floors and finishes contrast beautifully with a whitewashed interior. Coffered ceilings grace the kitchen and living room, where the family usually bonds over a movie or board game, while decorative trim inside and out adds elegance to the relaxed aesthetic.
“Both Jeff and I love the feeling you have when you walk into a house or building that has been lived in for centuries,” shares Jessica. “We wanted to emulate part of that feeling in our own home.”
Jessica also finds ways to add a touch of glamour to her beach cottage. The subtle glossiness of the wallpaper used
in the dining room, the mirrored bedside tables in the master suite and the wealth of chandeliers that play with light invite a sense of enchantment into the home. Off the foyer is a two-story staircase that creates drama for anyone coming down, especially if that someone happens to be one of their daughters on their way to a school dance.
When the sunset hour approaches, one might want to be soaking in the free-floating tub of the master bath, surrounded by beautiful marble and a flat-screen television.
“As light pours into the room from the window, it reflects off of everything—the tiles, chandelier, vanity mirrors—reminding me of what it’s like to watch the sunset on the beach, its shimmery reflection dancing on the water’s surface,” explains Jessica.
However, the best seat in the house may in fact be higher still. Only by ascending a spiral staircase do you meet the most evocative architectural element of the home.
“‘The Crow’s Nest’ is observation deck meets Zen garden,” describes Jeff, who likes to point out that the egg chair suspended from the center provides the best view. It’s here, sitting in the chair’s comforting embrace, where the entire sky opens up before your eyes. Outfitted with a sound system and a telescope, feelings of peacefulness and wanderlust take full flight, and you may just find yourself in a land far from Manhattan Beach.
David Watson, Architect
Andrew Igloi, STF Construction
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Only a whisper of cloud floats in the clear, blue sky, and castle-sized icebergs loll in the fjord. It’s a perfect, though not unusual late-July morning on the coast of South Greenland, ideal for rolling up sleeves and tending two-and-a-half acres of crops grown each summer at Upernaviarsuk, an experimental agricultural research station.