Organic Opportunity

Unforeseen home damage leads to an ambitious green makeover in a modern Manhattan Beach dwelling.

Dreams do come true, but sometimes in the guise of a nightmare. Such was the case for college sweethearts Corey and Marcie Baim, who married and started a family with the dream of building a house “someday.”

On a November morning in 2010, Corey and Marcie left their Manhattan Beach modern-style home with their two young sons, Macley and Cayden, for what they thought would be another typical day. But at 4:30 p.m., they received a call at their Hermosa Beach graphic design office informing them that water was coming out of their second story windows. 

“When we arrived, water was in the street and driveway and was oozing from the exterior stucco,” recalls Marcie. “We ran into the house, and the first thing I noticed besides the water at our feet was hot, heavy humidity. I knew we were in big trouble.”

A broken fire sprinkler caused the catastrophe. When a remediation team arrived, a race against the clock began to mitigate the onset of toxic mold.

Within 24 hours, the entire contents of the three-story home were removed. Destroyed items were deposited into dumpsters, and anything salvageable was either put in storage containers or set aside for their temporary housing.

“Through it all, I kept telling myself, ‘It’s just stuff,’” says Marcie. “But when I saw a man carrying my boxed wedding dress out to the dumpsters, I realized that some ‘stuff’ has a lot of meaning.”

They were told they would be back in their home in two months. Much to their dismay, two months became a year—with all of their belongings off-limits in storage due to insurance regulations.

Looking at life through the eyes of a child often casts a simple light on chaos. Such was the case when 4-year–old Cayden uttered, “Sometimes water floods your house, and then you need to find a new one.” And that is what the Baim family did.

 

The family enjoys their spacious and environmentally conscious kitchen.

They rented a nearby home and enlisted the services of a long-time friend, Daniel Salzman, to redesign and rebuild their home. Coincidentally, the couple’s IE Design + Communications company had just branded Salzman’s Manhattan Beach-based business, Evergreen Design Build, Inc.

“Marcie designed my logo and has a great eye for design,” shares Daniel. “She had a definite vision when she came to my South Bay Green Design Center showroom in Manhattan Beach, where she selected most of the materials and finishes.”

Marcie’s affinity for Bohemian style was the design inspiration. Her experience as a costume designer for Madonna lent itself to the project, as she drove the process alongside Daniel—with Corey in the wings for major decision-making while he ran their business.

For Daniel, the biggest challenge was to re-imagine the expansion of the house in compliance with stringent city guidelines. The boys were sharing a room, so they needed a second bedroom, and Marcie wanted a home office for her new MIXT Studio eco-friendly line of paper and gift goods.

The mid-level bedroom space conundrum influenced the major changes in the living spaces above with an increase in deck size, while the kitchen footprint remained the same. Trading interior space between levels enabled the triangle-shaped master bedroom to evolve into a more practical design while increasing outdoor living spaces.

Once the architectural design was finalized, overall design and building considerations began to take shape—with nothing but structural walls limiting the imagination. At the core of the building was a green theme, which was in keeping with Daniel Salzman’s sustainable approach to all of his projects.

“We repurposed large areas of glass, such as sliding doors, and we replaced inefficient windows,” he says. “The new hardwood floors are Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood, which comes from managed forests that only cut one-third of the wood at a time. The master bathroom countertops were re-cut from the old kitchen counter. Lighting was upgraded to LED cans for efficiency, and an electric car charging plug was wired in the garage.”

What was formerly minimalistic, angular and predominantly khaki green and black was brought to life with a Moroccan influence and fresh whites, muted earth tones and startling splashes of vivid color. Brightly painted concrete tiles that Marcie found in Pasadena were “must-haves” that were installed in the master and powder bathrooms. The green granite kitchen countertop—treated to look like leather—is a new finish that’s a family favorite.

A signature design element by Daniel Salzman is the fireplace that was finished with recycled clay tiles, a reclaimed wood mantle and a lava stone hearth. Another is the industrialized master shower cage that he duplicated from a photo Marcie found and had her heart set on. “I am into cars, and I had a custom auto shop that builds drift racing cars in Orange County make it with light gauge steel in the shop,” says Daniel.

A delightful, eclectic mix of salvaged and new furnishings complemented by collectibles and decorative lighting selected by Marcie completed the “new” home. As if to pay homage to their journey, entryway light fixtures invitingly draw attention to the dramatic ceiling and living spaces above, with the house seemingly whispering that life is definitely looking up again for Corey, Marcie and their family.  

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