Back to the BeachAuthor:Lindsey Shook
Pépe Studio curates a dream house for a couple of empty nesters in Hermosa Beach
“We believe our projects should always fit comfortably into the context of their environments,” says designer Lynn Pépe of Pépe Studio. “At the same time we want to move away from the expected beach-house formula and offer something deeply personal and unique to our clients.” The Southern California native opened her firm in 2004 with a focus on developing timeless homes throughout Manhattan Beach and the surrounding area. When enlisted by a couple—whose children had outgrown their home in Rolling Hills—to renovate their dream beach house, Pépe’s keen understanding of the community made her the perfect candidate. “Now that their children were grown and living away, they were ready to move back to the beach and be closer to shopping, friends and restaurants,” she notes.
Her team collaborated with architect Michael Lee and Fritz Construction to conceptualize a modern, 5,500-square-foot home. Having known the previous owners for almost four decades, Pépe was conflicted about erecting another new build. “Those of us who grew up here in the community can’t help but sigh when another classic beach home is torn down,” she says. “I wanted what would be resurrected on this lot to be deserving of a nod from the family and neighbors that said goodbye after so many years. I now had the privilege helping a new family build their dream home where they would create a lifetime of their own memories. It was bittersweet, but in the end, I hope that I represented both sides to the best of my ability.”
The main goal was to devise spaces ideal for entertaining that weren’t too precious. “They love to entertain and want their guests to feel welcome and relaxed— nothing should be too fragile or difficult to maintain long term,” says Pépe. The teams realized this goal by framing the west-facing views by placing the kitchen and bar adjacently while maintaining a form of separation with a built-in glass bar and cabinet. Pépe installed Fleetwood doors that open to a balcony that features another bar area and a built-in barbecue. Most notable was the clients’ impressive collection of wine. “They are part owners of a winery in Oregon,” she says. “We designed something that accomplished their goals of showcasing their collection and maximizing bottle storage.”
“When I step back, I’m totally satisfied with home’s simplicity and how well it fits into the neighborhood,” says Pépe. “We didn’t want the home to feel too similar to their neighbors’ homes.” The classic yet unique design was achieved with the addition of crisp white stucco eaves, rustic stone walls, walnut floors and cabinetry and earthy, terrazzo-like textures on the countertops. “The end result was a slightly more elevated beach home with enough warmth and texture to feel comfortable day to day,” she says. “Nothing gives you a greater sense of accomplishment than to have clients who are satisfied and grateful for everyone’s talents and efforts.”