Three Designers Reinvent Three Very Different South Bay Restaurants

Dining & designing.

SandBar 66, Manhattan Beach


Designer: Noelle Parks, owner of Noelle Interiors

Mood: Modern tiki lounge

The Transformation: “Architecturally, the space was dark and felt crowded because of the low ceilings and small footprint. It needed more than a facelift of finishes. It also needed more natural light, so we decided to raise the window headers. The new windows are actually louvered teak shutters that are removable—creating a direct connection to the outside.”

Vision: “The owner, Dave Rohrbacher, really wanted to create an experience that felt like an extension of the beach. He was heart-set on a Polynesian tiki bar, and it was my goal to create that essence in an upscale way. I combined his inspiration with my own, which was geared more toward chic Mediterranean beach clubs. A hybrid of the styles ultimately created the fun-loving atmosphere we were both after and a ‘just off the beach’ vibe. We wanted the space to be an extension of what Manhattan Beach is all about.”

Interior All-Stars: La Palma wallpaper by Catherine Martin by Mokum; custom barstools and tables by Noelle Interiors; louvered teak shutters

Two Words: “Fun and inspiring”

Esperanza Cocina de la Playa, Manhattan Beach


Designer: Gulla Jónsdóttir, Principal, Gulla Jonsdottir Design

Mood: Dreamy Mexican resort

The Transformation: “The space was completely different in the sense that we completely reimagined the façade and opened up the interiors to the exterior. There is nothing left of the original space except for the footprint and location of outer walls, kitchen and bathrooms. We had some structural challenges with column locations, but everything got solved with curving out walls in correct locations.”

Vision: “The inspiration comes from the beautiful, off-white sand dune beaches of Los Cabos, Mexico. We wanted splendor to meet elegance where the hues of bronze, marble and white plaster exaggerate the grandeur of a villa in an azure sky beach town by the Sea of Cortez.”

Design Details: “The voluptuous bronze back bar is one of my favorite features, as well as the engraved white plaster wall blurring the lines between art and design. I love the yellow leather and bronze dining chairs made by Luteca in Mexico City. We selected a lemon-yellow color contrasting with the bronze structure of the chair. The white clay pendant lights are custom-made and a collaboration between myself, my team and L’aviva home. They are handmade in Oaxaca, Mexico, by local artisans and cast a wonderful shade of light and shadow throughout the space.”

Proudest Moment? “The façade. Usually I am known for interior spaces, but what most people don’t know is that my background of education is in architecture. So to be able to design both the exterior and interiors for Esperanza was a unique opportunity. I love how peaceful and welcoming it turned out.”

Vacation Mode: “My wish is for guests to feel like they have been whisked away on a vacation by the Sea of Cortez and enjoy the moment.”

Fox & Farrow, Hermosa Beach


Designer: Sage Gracie, Sage Gracie Design

Mood: Elegant hunting lodge

The Transformation: “It used to be Chelsea Pub adjacent to the Underground Pub & Grill. It had some great existing bones, but it was a very dark bar with an exposed brick wall. The Underground is British, so I thought, ‘Let’s make it this cool gentleman’s club with feminine details and textures and fabrics.’ My inspiration was The Crown and Peaky Blinders, and creating this secret society club in the middle of Hermosa Beach.”

Design Details: An original hand-drawn charcoal portrait of Thomas Shelby by Tel Aviv–based artist Ely Bulnes; artwork culled from the Long Beach Flea Market in frames by 2 For 1 Frames; floral Graham & Brown wallpaper; bronze sconces from Shades of Light; Benjamin Moore’s Rainforest Foliage paint

Designer’s Favorite: “The two different entries and the feeling of excitement I get walking through them. They were both perceived as negatives at the beginning of the project because they were so hidden, badly lit and very drab. I focused on making them feel a lot more luxurious and turning that ‘hidden-negative’ into more of a mysterious ‘if you know, you know’ kind of entry. I think they each set the tone for the whole space beautifully.”

Three Words: “Cozy, sophisticated, hideout”

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