Sea Change

A Manhattan Beach family creates a peaceful retreat inspired by the Pacific.

Calm blues, soft greens and dove greys with crisp white trim set the tone for Kathi and Perry Colligan’s ocean-inspired, traditional home. “We love living near the ocean, so it was the guiding force when creating this house,” says Kathi.

Perry purchased the original 1940s house 20 years ago, and he and Kathi lived in it after they married. “Ten years later with three children, the floor plan didn’t work and the house was dated, so we thought we’d renovate to make things better,” says Kathi.

However, after numerous issues with tree ordinances in Manhattan Beach and remodeling considerations, it became clear that starting over with a new build was the best option. Kathi and Perry wanted a transitional home that incorporated classic beach-style architecture.

Manhattan Beach architect Joyce Flood has an extensive portfolio of seaside architectural styles, and she mixed traditional and modern elements into the home. “I combined their needs for a growing family and my knowledge to produce a house they can live in and enjoy for years,” says Joyce.





Bermuda shutters on the exterior provide protection from the intense sun, yet sea breezes filter through the open windows. The high coffered and beamed ceilings combine with the tall, simple wainscoting to create verticality and great light throughout the house.

The coastal modern house has a very peaceful feeling and a floor plan that flows well for a busy family. “The building process was smooth because we had a good builder in Mike Woodcock, who also has a good sense for design,” says Joyce.  

“I’m a blue-and-white person, and I wanted some element of the beach in every room.”

Upon entering the home, it’s evident that while it might be rooted in traditional architecture, the house has a clean aesthetic. “I thought through how we wanted to live, and I didn’t want the trappings of a cluttered front entrance or a formal dining room that never gets used,” says Kathi.  

Therefore the entrance is completely void of furniture where mail, homework and sports equipment might land. Instead there is a large closet in the front hall and cubbies tucked around the corner to provide storage for book bags and shoes. Clear, glass pendant fixtures hanging in the stairway provide light but give the illusion of space.





There are additional spaces throughout the first floor that help the house function well for the family. A room that could be converted to a formal dining room is currently the home office. It’s large, bright and offers plenty of workspace for everyone.

Additionally, the kids have their own room for playing, relaxing or entertaining. There’s plenty of lounging space, while a chalkboard wall provides creative entertainment and bursts of color in the room. Although it’s a lively place now, it can double as a guest bedroom or study area as they grow.

The main living area of the house is comprised of the kitchen, dining area and family room, which all open onto the backyard for one huge living space. While the kitchen is large, it’s also placid due to the materials and colors.

“I thought through how we wanted to live, and I didn’t want the trappings of a cluttered front entrance or a formal dining room that never gets used.”

The massive, white marble island doubles as a countertop and an eating area. “People question why we used marble in the kitchen, but it’s a classic look and we don’t mind the imperfections that might come with use,” says Kathi.

Stainless steel appliances and crisp white cabinets keep the space open and light. The blue-and-grey tiled backsplash creates the illusion of water in both pattern and color and is another reminder of the nearby ocean.

The living room has pops of color in the form of the floral rug and bright orange ottoman that doubles as a footstool or low table. A mid-century-style chair and wood coffee table add a contemporary feeling to the furnishings, while vivid paintings add more color on the walls. It’s an uncluttered and inviting area for the entire family to gather. When the doors open completely to the backyard, the living area becomes one large indoor-outdoor space.  

One of the great design elements of the Colligan house is the pool. “It’s the only thing we preserved from the original house,” says Kathi.

In a market dominated by the ubiquitous infinity pool, the Colligans’ vintage 1960s, kidney-shaped, concrete pool is a masterpiece of mid-century design. A putting green completes the retro vibe of the outdoor area where “Perry loves to come home and putt,” laughs Kathi. Although they have an outdoor dining and kitchen area, it’s clear that golf and swimming are the preferred activities for the Colligan clan.




Four blue-and-white bedrooms upstairs provide ample space for the family. “I’m a blue-and-white person, and I wanted some element of the beach in every room,” says Kathi. A giant sand dollar hangs above the guest bed, while light filters in from the front balcony.

The children’s rooms each have ample space to sleep, play and study and are infused with various shades of blue. They are the types of rooms that can transition easily as children grow into teenagers and then young adults.  

The master suite overlooks the backyard and has a distinctly Caribbean feel. Navy-and-white bed linens, Bahamian shutters and hardwood floors contribute to the island theme of the room.

The master bathroom is beautiful in its simplicity. Calcified marble is used throughout the house, and the shower wall is made from a massive slab that offers a beautiful visual effect, as well as a wonderful texture. The overall ambience of the bathroom is that of a spa retreat.

Renovating and building are never easy, but when the process yields results as fluid as those the Colligans experienced, it’s an easy decision to consider. Instead of having to retrofit a contemporary floor plan into a 1940s beach cottage, Kathi and Perry now have a light, open, new house that perfectly suits their family with a design aesthetic that reminds them of the beach they love so dearly.