Natural Instincts

A family’s global collection is housed in the first LEED Silver home in the South Bay.

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  • Written by
    Suzanna Cullen

Sheri and Rob Lietzow live in Manhattan Beach, but the interior of their home reveals a lifetime of international travel. After working in many government positions in Washington, D.C. that took her around the globe, Sheri relocated to the Los Angeles area to attend graduate school at USC. 

When she met Rob, a UCLA graduate, they found a bond through travel. Their house now tells the story of the life they created together as they traveled around the world. 

Although the exterior of the Lietzow house appears to be a traditional Hamptons-style home, it is actually the first LEED Silver-certified home in the South Bay. Upon entering the house, a sweeping staircase, beautiful mouldings and great sunlight give the house a classic feeling. “All of the materials are either reclaimed or recycled and comply with LEED certification standards,” says design-builder Daniel Salzman of Evergreen Design Build, Inc. 

The richly stained, dark-wood, wide-plank floors have been culled from sustainable forests, while honed black lava stone accentuates floors and the fireplace surround. From countertops composed of various recycled components—including beer bottles, concrete and sunflower seeds—to others made from compressed paper, every surface was carefully considered for both aesthetic applications and best sustainable practices. 

While the Leitzow home sets a standard for the South Bay’s environmentally-conscious construction, it was not the impetus for the purchase. Rob remarks, “We bought the house after it was built because we loved the architecture and the space. It was an added benefit that there are so many environmental assets to the house.”  

The grand formal foyer sets the international tone of the house, where a chandelier that Sheri and Rob purchased in Fès, Morocco hangs from the two-story ceiling. A Dale Chihuly blown-glass bowl in a kaleidoscope of colors rests on the French-style inlaid entrance table—thereby merging cultures, textures and mediums. “I’ve decorated the house so that it reflects not only our taste but also reminds us of all the places we’ve been in the world,” says Sheri.

The living room has a more rustic feeling; a beamed ceiling and stone fireplace create a cozy environment. However, the global influences continue in the decorating. 

The painting above the mantel was purchased in Australia and painted by prolific Aboriginal artist Barney Daniels Tjungurrayi. The delicate inlaid coffee table is a custom piece from India reminiscent of the Taj Mahal. The French-style side tables and armoire add a formal flair opposing the huge turned Cook pine vase by Hawaiian artist Elmer Adams. 

The massive gourmet kitchen is a chef’s dream. No one would guess that the countertops are made from a LEED-certified composite of recycled granite, marble and concrete.  

The kitchen opens to the expansive family room that is decorated with photos of Sheri’s and Rob’s travels and paintings purchased along the way. The entire area spills outside onto a large backyard complete with an outdoor fireplace, living area and a huge pool.  

Mature landscaping and beautiful stonework give an established feel to the area. The landscaping includes plants that are hearty to the marine conditions and require little water. When water is used, a greywater system recycles water throughout the home for landscaping use. 

The upstairs bedrooms each have fabulous windows permitting sunlight to flood in, while ample closets and beautiful bathrooms make each room feel like a suite. The navy blue master bedroom could have felt heavy and closed in, but with dark wood furniture, crisp white trim and bright white fabrics, it feels more like a country club retreat. 

“The painters were skeptical when I gave them this saturated color, but this proves that darker wall colors can work in large spaces when balanced with clean lines and bright white accents,” says Sheri. 

As fabulous as it might be to have the first certified LEED Silver home in the South Bay, and as much as they love living with their international treasures, the Leitzow family most values their ground floor. At 2,500 square feet and with 9-foot ceilings, this is no ordinary basement. 

Multiple areas offer a myriad of choices for entertainment, particularly for their twin sons, Derick and Steve. A huge game room offers areas to play ping-pong and foosball and watch up to three sports events at one time.  

“The boys love the theatre lights and sound effects when playing video games in the media room,” notes Rob. For the adults, a creatively crafted wine cellar door is comprised of corks, while the bar is constructed from sunflower seeds.  

“When most people hear the words ‘sustainable’ and ‘LEED-certified,’ they frequently think ‘modern and un-

comfortable,’” says Daniel. The Leitzow home is a testament to the fact that green living can be incorporated into traditional home styles using beautifully crafted products for seamless integration. 

By decorating with treasured items they’ve collected from around the globe, Sheri and Rob Leitzow are setting examples for their children to appreciate other cultures while preserving their environment and living comfortably in a time-honored way. 



Daniel Salzman, Evergreen Design Build, INC.
Sheri Leitzow







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