Starting From Scratch

An art-filled dream home layered with hand-selected pieces that make a big statement.

Longtime Long Beach residents Seth and Vicki Kogan knew they were ready for a major change of scenery. A new city, that is. With three children (two of them in high school at Chadwick Academy in Rolling Hills Estates at the time), the Kogans were planning ahead and building a home in Surfside, near Seal Beach.

“We had actually bought a piece of property down in Surfside and had gone through the whole plans and Coastal Commission,” explains Vicki.

But the couple, who had worked on the Surfside residence with architect James R. Meyer, principal of Lean Arch, Inc., and interior designer Annette English of Los Angeles design firm Annette English & Associates, had a change of heart and were drawn to Manhattan Beach where several friends lived. They settled on a walk street residence six houses back from the ocean.

“We had to start completely over, but the great thing was, we had already hired Annette for this other house and she already had a sense of what we liked and what we wanted,” says Vicki of the three-story, approximately 3,700-square-foot home with views of the ocean.

“The existing house was a typical 1980s beach house with some dated nautical references,” adds Annette. “It was slightly awkward and overscale, and we took it down to the studs with the intention of bringing in more light. Now it’s an elegant, glowing jewel box.”

The Kogans, who previously resided in a traditional, Colonial-style home in Long Beach with lots of dark woods and antiques, wanted a complete departure. “We knew we wanted things to be light because we were going to be at the beach,” says Vicki. “The undertones are grey and white oak. Again, because we were at the ocean, we knew things were going to fade. But Seth was very adamant and said, ‘I don’t want a cold house.’ So there had to be something in each room that caught your eye, like a pillow or a piece of art. But it all looks like it belongs there, and it’s not monochromatic at all.”

The Kogans moved into the Manhattan Beach home with nothing but their clothes, personal records and shoes. “We’re now empty-nesters, and you have this sense of ‘Wow, I’m entering the next phase of my life.’ And we have a lot of stuff,” says Vicki. “I didn’t want to come to the house with anything other than the clothes from our closet. We didn’t bring one picture frame or knickknack. It was like a complete fresh start, and it was a simpler way to live. It was more about leaving the past behind and moving into the future.”

The multi-level home, replete with an elevator, outdoor shower, study, gym, office, wine room and outdoor patios, features a downstairs “rec room” with a custom-designed poker table anchored by an abstract-inspired DelightFULL fixture by Coltrane Lighting for Seth’s monthly poker games.

In the main entry, a stairwell is anchored by a 12-foot cascading teardrop Seed Cloud chandelier by Ochre. “I had a binder full of images,” says Vicki, who initially spotted the piece in New York City. “I told Annette I would love nothing more than to have this in my house. She knew that this would make me happy and that it could work within our budget. I love that about her. We didn’t just go to one lighting showroom. We specifically looked for each piece.”

During the design and construction process, a serendipitous conversation happened while seated at the same table as art consultant, Victoria Burns, at one of their son’s school functions. (They both worked together on Chadwick CPA.) After hearing Burns was an art advisor in Chicago, and was looking to start up again in California, Vicki and Seth added her to the team to help build a robust contemporary art collection..

“My life now revolves around art,” says Vicki. “I went from not knowing a thing about contemporary art to wanting to collect it. It’s opened up a whole new world. The art in our house is not decorative. Every single piece has a story behind it. Some of the art may seem serious, but we didn’t start out with that plan. We thought we would start with young emerging California artists, but we have evolved and love collecting things that speak to us or have a message. Seth told Annette that he wanted warmth, whimsy and wow, and I think we achieved that.”

In the entry festooned near the stairwell, a taupe-hued trench entitled Hustle Coat by artist Nick Cave reveals gold and silver chains and bedazzled money symbols. “The coat is like when you would go to New York and the guys would be wearing trench coats and open them up and say, ‘Wanna buy a Rolex?’ … which of course were all fake watches,” explains Vicki. “We love the artist and he does other pieces called Soundsuits, but they are too tall for our house. When we saw this piece, we fell in love.”

Upstairs in the master suite, Annette designed a custom, seamed headboard and built-in nightstands flanked by a pair of cascading quartz crystal pendant lamps by Shakuff. “They look like jewelry when turned on,” adds Annette of the room that is layered in a custom cowhide rug by Decorative Carpets and a cobalt blue, rose and eggplant-hued painting by artist Mark Flood.

In the living room on the top level, a limestone fireplace serves as a focal point for a pair of gold-dipped shoes floating on a wire by Long Beach artist Kendell Carter, a Lancaster wing chair by Michael Berman and a sculptural pouf coffee table by CASTE Design. Sphere-like Abaco pendant lamps by Venini double as a partition that separates the space from the kitchen, which was designed by Bulthaup. The room features LEM Piston barstools from Design Within Reach.

“Everything was deliberate,” says Annette regarding the design. “Overall what I love is that there are a lot of dramatic moments. It’s like a three-story jewelry box, and I think the home is a powerful expression of them and who they are. I loved the opportunity to bring their dream to life for them.”

“My favorite thing is that I get to look at the ocean every day,” says Vicki. “Whenever I’m driving home and I see the water, it’s like my whole being just kind of goes, ‘Ahh.’ I think I’m a more relaxed person by living here.”