Soul Survivor

A brick-and-mortar charmer lets it all hang out with music and laughter in Manhattan Beach.


The Commodores may have sung about a “Brick House” 40 years ago, but in 2015 a Manhattan Beach brick beauty remains a mighty one—with plenty of music spilling from her walls.

Brick is not a commonly used building material in the South Bay. It’s usually reserved for stately mansions on large properties or low-slung mid-century bungalows. However, just off The Strand in Manhattan Beach sits a huge house with brick chimneys that anchor each end of the block-long residence.  










“When we purchased the house, everyone expected us to tear it down, but I thought it just needed a renovation,” says owner Deanna. Working with Manhattan Beach architect Joyce Flood and general contractor Mike Woodcock, Deanna oversaw each detail of the process as they salvaged most of the house and turned it into a gem.

Originally from Canada, Deanna and her husband, Brad, love the warm sunshine and active lifestyle of the South Bay. Bikes, skateboards and beach gear line the garage for easy access.

“We’re a close family and our son, Colton Forth, is a hip-hop artist who’s studying business at USC. So he and his friends often descend for the weekend, and the house is full of people, music and laughter,” says Deanna.  

With so much entertaining in the house, Deanna wanted to make it practical as well as beautiful. Surfaces that are easy to maintain and a fluid, cohesive color scheme ensure that the house always looks great for arriving guests. They made one significant architectural change in the kitchen, but otherwise the floor plan, windows and floors stayed the same.







The house has a traditional floor plan with large public rooms on the main floor and bedrooms upstairs. “I hate walking into the front door of a house and looking at the bedrooms,” says Deanna. Fortunately, the house has the space to avoid the ubiquitous South Bay floor plan with the open living area on the top floor. In this home, each top-floor bedroom feels like an oasis and has a terrific view of the ocean.

The classic architecture yields a main living area that has great flow and numerous seating and dining areas while avoiding the prototypical open concept floor plan. The spacious living room and formal dining room offer multiple seating areas, while a deck with an ocean view is tucked into a corner. The kitchen is refreshingly separate from the formal dining room, and it opens onto the breakfast room, relaxed family room and a second ocean-facing deck for informal entertaining.

“When we purchased the house, everyone expected us to tear it down, but I thought it just needed a renovation.”

“People call it the ‘Brick House’ because of the chimneys, but the interior brick is just as practical as the exterior brick,” says Deanna. The original herringbone brick floors in the kitchen are both classic and incredibly user-friendly because they are impervious to liquids and scratches.







While most people would have opted for new hardwood floors in the living and dining rooms, Deanna kept the original hardwood floors and re-stained them. “Everyone tried to talk me out of keeping the narrow plank flooring, but after seeing the new, light, matte stain, they all love it,” she says.

The existing round, sweeping staircase and windows were preserved both for their beauty and their condition. By changing the pickets to a simple, clean line, the staircase is now a powerful but modern architectural statement. Likewise, the existing high-quality windows look great with newly added trim.

A very simple architectural change in the kitchen had a tremendous impact on the light in the house. A wall of original wood cabinets blocked the view of the ocean. However, by removing the exterior siding and replacing it with glass outside and glass cabinets inside, the kitchen retained the same amount of cabinets but now has a great view of the ocean.

One of the most important rooms in the house is Colton’s recording studio, known in the family as “The Blue Room.” Outfitted with soundproof, blue velvet walls and state-of-the-art recording equipment, the room is the perfect place for Colton to write and record his music. He’s played at numerous venues around Los Angeles including The Roxy, Blue Velvet and USC, as well as places farther afield such as Pomona, San Diego and Santa Barbara. Colton’s first album, Adolescent Age, will debut this summer.

Jamie Roddy of edenLA Furniture & Interiors helped Deanna decorate the house. A soft grey-green blankets the walls, while crisp white trim lends a clean aesthetic to the house.

Sparks of silver and mirror glass in the lighting and accessories highlight the tones of grey and white in the upholstery. The house yields a calm but contemporary elegance that blends the radiance of the city with the tranquility of the beach.

For this family, a beach house is the perfect place to relax, entertain and create. In blending the original architecture with a renovation, they’ve designed a home that merges all of their interests in a welcoming beach lifestyle.