Point of View
A strategically placed alley provides expansive ocean vistas for a Manhattan Beach family.
- Written bySuzanna Cullen
The goal of every homeowner in the Sand Section of Manhattan Beach is to have a room with a view of the ocean. The ubiquitous floor plan of homes located in this area is an open concept top floor comprised of the kitchen, dining and living rooms, with a deck or porch extending to an ocean view.
When Monique and Edward McMahon found their home site in Manhattan Beach, it included one rare but critical element: an alley in front of the house that will forever guarantee an unobstructed view of the ocean from two floors.
“The original house on this lot was a complete teardown, but it did afford us an opportunity to discover the views we wanted to retain,” says Daryl Olesinski, principal of O+ L Building Projects. While the typical floor plan was required, given the lot size and constraints, both the second and third floors of the home have terrific views, thanks to the open alley.
After having remodeled what they thought would be a longtime home in Manhattan Beach, Edward found himself weary with the house that did not have views. “One day I was sitting on the couch watching football, and I realized that the ocean was only a few blocks away—but out of sight was out of mind. I had become a couch potato, and I had to get back to the ocean,” he says.
After quickly selling their home, they moved into a rental house and contacted Daryl to begin the process of designing and building their dream home. One of the dictates was to build a house that would last well into the next century; therefore, the list of substantial materials includes a board form concrete wall that “serves to act as the metaphorical anchor of the house,” says Daryl. Working with builder Brent Gunderson, Daryl managed the two-year construction project.
The outside of the house sets the tone of a “moody beach house that’s meant to age,” says Daryl. Numerous materials are incorporated into the exterior, including oxidized COR-TEN steel, concrete and wood. By cutting the wood into three different depths and sizes, the wood frame exterior mimics the fluid motion of the ocean waves as it moves across the front of the house.
Like most newly constructed homes in the South Bay area, the emphasis is on the architecture and the architectural finishes. The McMahon home features rich walnut floors stained a dark brown that contrast beautifully with the hard surfaces including poured concrete, stone and glass.
The stonework throughout the house is exceptional in size, finish and installation. Large slabs of honed marble and travertine are seamlessly joined to create perfectly finished surfaces.
Every square foot of space has been carefully considered in the home. The garage not only houses two cars, but all of Edward’s wetsuits and surfboards are hung for easy use. There’s also a small but totally functional space for lifting weights and working out.
The ground floor media room serves many purposes for the family and guests. The McMahon children—Devin, age 10, and Malia, age 8—have plenty of space to create and play. However, a Murphy bed is creatively concealed behind a wall of walnut doors that appear to be a cabinet, so the room can be a bedroom when guests arrive.
The second floor is comprised of the family bedrooms and bathrooms. The master bedroom has an unusually expansive view of the ocean because it is sited directly facing the alley and beach beyond. A wall of windows affords constant views of the ocean waves.
Tucked behind the floating wall of the master headboard are the closets and master bathroom. The area is not large, but due to the expert use of space as well as the monochromatic but perfectly crafted finishes, it flows with ease.
On the third floor, the house opens to expose 180º views of the Pacific. Anchoring the rear of the space is the white kitchen with the gigantic island crafted from honed Bianca Volakas marble. Though seemingly uncluttered, the kitchen hides every gadget and luxury needed for a chef’s kitchen.
The grey-and-white color palette of the entire third floor, combined with glass furnishings and expansive views through large windows, ensures that the ocean is the most powerful decorative accessory. The small living room area opens to a deck with a cantilevered roof. The deck has partial glass walls that further enhance the view and proximity of the ocean.
There is one room with a view that Edward counts among his most prized creations: the third-floor powder room. During the design phase, the bathroom wall was conceived as being solid. However, during construction, Edward had an epiphany and insisted that the wall be a solid plane of glass. Now it can be said that the McMahon home truly has a third floor with a view from every room.
“After all, the house has to work for us in every room,” smiles Edward.
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