A fresh perspective maximizes living space and ocean vistas for a Manhattan Beach family.
Seeking a fresh perspective often requires physically moving, or at least seeking the guidance of someone from farther afield whose perspective is different from ours. When Stephanie and Joe Paunovich decided to build a home, they moved from West Hollywood to the South Bay and hired an architect from Pacific Palisades. The result is a sleek, contemporary house in Manhattan Beach with a refreshing take on the prototypical floor plan of most Sand Section homes.
“We were ready to start a family and felt like Manhattan Beach was the right place for us, so we began the process of trying to find the right location to build our new home,” says Stephanie. However, what they perceived to be a short process evolved into a three-year project during which Stephanie had two children. “I was so consumed with the kids that Joe was responsible for most of the design decisions with the house,” she continues.
Having previously considered homes in other areas of Los Angeles, Joe was familiar with various architectural styles and architects. “As soon as I saw a home in the city designed by Bruce Bolander, I knew he was the architect for us,” he says.
Although Joe and Stephanie had ideas for what they wanted in a South Bay home, they couldn’t proceed with specific plans until they purchased the lot. “That process took a bit longer than we anticipated, but we ended up with a fantastic location,” says Joe. Working with The (W)orkshop team including Brent Coert, Alex Ocampo and Scott Martin, Joe found a group that shared his vision.
Perched off The Strand so that it’s a short walk to the beach but far enough back to have a great view, the Paunovich home is similar to many newly constructed homes in the area. The concrete, wood and glass structure resembles the other contemporary homes in its modernity and shape.
Maximizing the lot means that there’s almost no yard other than a strip of grass and a tiny triangle sandbox for their two young children. However, the space inside is very different from most other homes in the area and provides multiple living areas.
The steep lot has the benefit of affording a ground floor with plenty of natural daylight. High ceilings, large windows and white walls further add to the airy feeling of the ground floor. Unlike most homes in the area that use the ground floor as a media room, guest bedroom or library, Bruce Bolander placed all of the bedrooms downstairs. While it might seem unconventional for the front door to open into a foyer near the bedrooms, this simple floor plan change affords the family far more living space upstairs.
Bright pops of orange and blue in the children’s rooms infuse the otherwise grey-and-white color palette found throughout the house. Stephanie has incorporated a mix of high and low price points in the children’s rooms, where IKEA and custom elements combine for creative solutions. All of the bedrooms are ample in size, where calm, modern interiors create a soothing environment.
Although the house is minimal in aesthetics, the use of similar materials throughout the house—combined with clean lines—creates continuity. A custom, steel-forged staircase railing visually links all of the levels of the house. Beautiful wide-plank, oiled-finished flooring used throughout the house seems to float on the suspended stair treads. The blend of rugged steel with the floating stair treads creates a gutsy but artistic architectural statement. When viewed up close, the stairs and railing are as sculptural as they are functional.
Lest all of this appear simple in terms of a visual aesthetic, the truth is that it required incredible precision and attention to detail. “It was an engineering feat to accomplish the stair railings, but The (W)orkshop understood my passion for this complicated element and they made it happen,” says Joe.
The second floor of the house is one open living area comprised of the kitchen, family room, dining room and a second seating area. The walls of glass doors and windows offer tremendous views of ocean. Uncomplicated white draperies float in the wind and frame the view in a refreshing way.
Joe designed the custom oval dining table, and it fits the area perfectly. The size and shape make it as comfortable for four as it is for 14. Surrounded by Danish-influenced armchairs with a large chandelier floating above, it creates a pared-down but inviting area.
The third floor of the house consists of a large living room, a linear office and a huge deck with spectacular ocean views. “Although originally conceived as my husband’s man cave, it’s probably going to be the place where the kids hang out,” says Stephanie of the completely open living area.
The deck is so large that it can accommodate play areas for the children as well as areas for dining and lounging. Once the retractable glass walls are open, the third floor is one fabulous, large uninterrupted living room.
As the Paunovich family continues to grow, so too will the interior design elements of their house. By creating a floor plan that maximizes the living areas and views, as well as investing in painstaking steps to create detailed architectural elements, the bones of the house are clearly defined. “This house has been a labor of love, but we’re very happy with the modern, windswept feeling it evokes,” says Joe.
As is often the case, a new perspective offers creative solutions. Stephanie and Joe Paunovich have created a fresh floor plan filled with light and quality, custom-crafted elements that provide a beautiful canvas of opportunity for design.