Featured on this year’s Holiday Homes Tour, this beautiful Manhattan Beach abode was built on both family and tradition.
Photographed by Lauren Pressey
The stunning three-story home of Chris and Shannon Ryan is truly just that: a home. “It’s a beautiful marriage of having a really warm house for our family and also having a space that we can utilize for the other areas of our lives that are important to us,” explains Shannon, who does an enormous amount of entertaining and philanthropic work.
The spacious home was brought down to its studs and re-imagined by interior designers Tasha Gates and Lora Penczar of Chateau 310. “The house is big,” says Shannon candidly. “It’s a great space to entertain and utilize the house to benefit others and the charities that mean something to us.”
Since philanthropy is a significant part of their lives—and because Shannon is also a local financial advisor—it was important to adhere to a budget. “I can be frugal,” she admits, “especially when that money can be better spent on other things like philanthropy.”
Thus she worked closely with Tasha and Lora to decide where they would spend more money and where they’d spend less. Shannon was both pleased and surprised to find that the project came in under budget.
One place they did splurge was on a light fixture that fills the space in the center of the heart-shaped staircase. “This was my 25th wedding anniversary present,” she shares, adding with a smile that she didn’t want jewelry … she wanted to finish the house instead. The glass of the contemporary chandelier was cut in Israel and brokered out of New York.
On average, Shannon and Chris host one event a month. She is also president of the Manhattan Beach Rotary. Their home includes six bedrooms, which serve as master bedroom, a bedroom for both daughters as well as their playroom, guest rooms where they often host Rotary students and Chris’ office, where he works from home as vice president of corporate payments for U.S. Bank.
The Ryans’ home is among the four houses showcased in this year’s Sandpipers Holiday Homes Tour. The annual event, now in its 24th year, will feature local homes, artisans and restaurants, raising money in the community through ticket sales and the holiday boutique to support Sandpiper charities.
Though it’s adorned in a cool and calming color scheme of grey, cream and blue, the house radiates warmth. Every morning the smell of breakfast fills the air, and the scent of dinner fills the evenings. “I love to cook,” says Shannon, who prepares almost every meal. “It’s one of my favorite things.”
The full-time professional and mother of two admits with a laugh that she’s not the greatest cook but that she loves the feeling it brings to their home. “Our kids are 11 and 13. I want them to have memories of Mom in the kitchen cooking.”
Shannon is usually out of the house early to work out, and by the time she’s back she has breakfast and music going. “We have a lot of music in the house, even though we’re not musicians,” she says.
Immediately as you enter, a collection of instruments—including a harp, guitar, ukulele and grand piano—grab your attention. “While we all have taken different lessons, none of us play or play well,” Chris confesses. The reason they have the piano is because it reminds Shannon of her late father, who was a surgeon and also a talented musician.
“He would play any instrument he picked up by ear,” she explains. “He played the piano beautifully, and he played it in the house every Sunday.”
After he died Shannon purchased a piano with the small amount of life insurance money that was left over. It has a player and plays itself on a regular basis. “We call it Hal, which is my dad’s name,” she says fondly. “Hal’s playing the piano again.”
Though contemporary and minimal as a whole, the home’s thoughtfully displayed artifacts have a prominent sentimental value. “We’ve placed things all over the house that are meaningful to us,” Shannon says.
In the den, for example, are two framed world maps covered with red-colored pins. One board displays the travels of Shannon’s grandparents, and the other is of her and her husband’s travels.
“My grandfather was a surgeon and traveled all over the world with my grandmother,” she says. “When Chris and I were dating—we have been married 26 years this year—we would walk into my grandparents’ house, and they had this pinboard up. We would stand there and say, ‘This is the way we want our lives to look.’”
Shannon and Chris were married for 14 years before having children. “We weren’t that interested in having kids in our younger years, so we traveled,” she explains. “We did some really amazing things, though our board seems like nothing compared to my grandparents.”
Perhaps the most important part of the home—with the exception of the breakfast nook, which is their youngest daughter’s favorite space—are the ocean views from every single floor. “It was my husband’s dream to live in a house with an ocean view because he absolutely loves the sunset,” says Shannon. “Every night since we’ve moved in he will yell, ‘Sunset,’ and no matter where anybody is in the house, we’ll all run up to the deck and watch the sunset together.”