Keeping with Tradition

A move to be closer to family inspires an interior designer’s home décor.


In a place where the most common interior design styles are either beach cottage or sleek contemporary, the Manhattan Beach home of Meg and Donn Carper overflows with family mementos and collections in a distinctly traditional style. 

“We are both natives of the Los Angeles area, but Donn’s career took us to New York for a while. So our children were raised in both places,” says Meg. Throughout all the moves, “family has always been first,” she continues. 

Meg has been an interior decorator for more than 30 years, and during that time she has worked in a broad range of styles. “I can work in any style that a client wants, but I prefer a traditional style in my own home so that it reflects our family and our interests.” 

The Carpers had been living in the Woodland Hills area of Los Angeles, but once their three children graduated from USC and all relocated in the South Bay and Orange County areas, they decided to move. “We enjoy our careers, but our single greatest joy is our time with our grandchildren. So we wanted to be closer to them,” says Meg.

With a second home in Palm Desert, the Carpers decided to move to Manhattan Beach and downsize in the process. After finally finding the perfect townhouse, Meg’s work began in earnest as she culled through her extensive collections of decorative accessories to create their new home.

The Carpers looked at numerous floor plans but finally settled on one that provides plenty of space and light, with a wonderful outdoor entertaining area. “I did not make any structural changes to the property, so all I had to do was aesthetic,” says Meg. 

One design element that was paramount to Meg was a red dining room. “I had to have it!” she exclaims. 

Red dining rooms have long been used in traditional settings where the light of a chandelier reflected off red walls at night creates both dramatic and flattering tones. Her formal Chippendale-style dining room furniture fit perfectly into the space. 

One of Meg’s design additions is a formal mantle with a marble surround that gives the yellow living room an architectural focal point. Other Continental influences include an abundance of paintings, ceramics and upholstery pieces that are finished with the traditional and formal elements of long fringe. In total, it is a distinctly European-influenced room. 

The powder room provides the perfect place for one of Meg’s treasures. Many years ago in one of her expansive formal homes, Meg created a custom vanity by putting a slab of jade green marble on top of a French buffet and installing a cut-crystal sink. Thinking that it would be sold as part of the house, Meg assumed it was gone forever. 

However, the new owners offered to trade her beloved French creation for some outdoor planters and trees. “I was so excited to get it back and adamant that it fit into any new home we created,” says Meg. With walls covered in deep red wallpaper featuring pheasants, the jade green marble and crystal sink create a luxurious powder room setting. 

Because their previous family room had a heavy British library feel to it, Meg wanted to make this family room more contemporary and updated. She used her favorite grass cloth wall covering to give texture and provide a warm setting. Club chairs covered in plaid, hunting scenes, dog statues and a collection of antique rifles passed down through the family create the updated library design.  

The family room opens to a large outdoor living area complete with a stacked stone fireplace, cooking area and both dining and seating areas. With lush landscaping and extensive stonework, it’s an oasis that one would not expect to find in a townhome setting. 

The stairway and landing are testament to the Carpers’ commitment to family. Decades of family photos line the walls and provide a constant visual of family memories. 

Upstairs, the master bedroom is much smaller than their previous bedroom. However, Meg was able to use their furniture and her favorite fabrics. Tones of sage green and soft ochre mixed with neutrals provide a pretty and comforting palate. “We’ve lived in such big places, but this is all we need,” says Meg.

In downsizing, the Meg and Donn Carper got exactly what they wanted: a home that functions perfectly for them but is close enough to their grandchildren to afford visits every day. For this Manhattan Beach couple, they are as traditional in their home design as they are in their lifestyle. It’s all about family.





Gilded Basin Sink 




“Caliente” Red 


Benjamin Moore in Manhattan Beach, 


Bamba Rushcloth Wallpaper (ash) 

prices vary 



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