Coast to Coast
A 20-year local weaves her Northeastern style into her family’s Manhattan Beach abode.
As Sarah Evans prepares dinner for her 6-year-old daughter, the family’s pup, Monkey, meanders around her feet. The kitchen faces a large family room with an entire wall of doors opening to an outside patio and upper deck. “This is probably my favorite room,” Sarah says. “I spend so much time in the kitchen. My daughter can sit and do her artwork, or she and the dog can go outside.”
The kitchen, white with layered greys and modern-traditional cabinetry, “works well in an open space that shares the family living area rather than a dedicated kitchen,” explains Wendy Word of Wendy Word Design. “The cabinets feel more like furniture.” A large island topped with white, Italian marble serves as a prep station, coloring surface or congregating area.
The family room is both polished and inviting. “I wanted it to look a certain way,” Sarah notes. “But I also wanted it to be really comfortable and livable.” Adding to the charm of the room is a large, antique Louis Vuitton trunk—a family heirloom passed down to Sarah. “That trunk has been around the world and back again,” she says.
European oak floors, chocolate in color and with a custom-fumed finish, add to the sophistication of the space. “If it weren’t for Wendy, they’d be purple,” Sarah says with a smile.
The stone floors outside on the patio are Pennsylvania blue. The lower patio has seating with an outdoor gas fireplace and grill area. The upper deck serves as a shaded lounge area.
Also sharing the main level of the house are a formal dining room, reading room and large office. The dining room boasts a stunning, Egyptian blown-glass chandelier over the table, with seating chosen both for its esthetic value and comfort level.
“I wanted to create a formal but inviting space,” Sarah notes. “I don’t want to go to a steak house and feel like it’s more comfortable than my own dining room.”
The reading room is filled with vintage books resting on built-in bookcases that frame the fireplace and the large painting above it. “These books are all from her family, many with inscriptions,” says Wendy. “There’s a lot of sentimental value here, so we wanted to create a quiet space with an open floor plan.”
Double doors open to another outdoor patio, fire pit and infinity edge, glass-tiled spa. The office is adorned with family pictures and has patio access and a full bathroom. Nearby is a small but charming powder room with whimsical wallpaper and a mother-of-pearl inlay mirror.
Make your way up the spiral staircase to the second floor, and you’ll find a master suite with a chandelier hanging from the vaulted ceilings and French doors leading to another private patio. The bathroom has his-and-hers vanities, a lowered makeup table, rainfall shower and a colossal claw-foot tub.
On the other side of the hall is a wing dedicated to the youngest member of the Evans family. Her room showcases pops of color, including a pink bed, yellow dresser and sea-blue walls. The room has a Jack-and-Jill bathroom, but because there’s no Jack, “she’s got the Jack and the Jill,” Sarah explains.
Instead, “Jack’s” room has been converted into a play area, additionally splashed with color, a day bed, ample storage space, and a tiny table and chairs sitting on top of a pink striped rug.
Serving as the home’s third level is a finished basement. “It’s nice because when we have people come and stay, they have their own space,” Sarah notes. With peekaboo natural light coming from cleverly placed windows, built-ins and even a live tree, the space is as comfortable and polished as the rest of the house.
The Evans family has now lived in their Manhattan Beach residence for three years, but they’ve owned it for five. Two years prior to the home’s completion, they rented while the property was under construction. But it’s been nearly 20 years that Sarah and her husband have lived in South Bay.
Sarah’s goal with this project was to create a space that not only met the needs of her family and fit into her new Southern California lifestyle, but that spoke to her Northeastern sensibilities. “I grew up in Maryland, but I also realized that I’m in Manhattan Beach and didn’t want to put something here that didn’t belong,” she explains. “I wanted to incorporate myself and the way that I had been brought up, but I didn’t know how to do it.” That’s where Wendy Word comes in.
“Sarah brought us in at the beginning to take the finish work and the custom elements to the next level,” Wendy says. “We worked with her for the majority of the project, doing walk-throughs at least weekly.”
With Wendy’s help, Sarah was able to merge the design elements she loved without competing against the West Coast style she was surrounded by. “I really entrusted her; she had the vision I wanted,” Sarah says.
The result: an elegant alliance of formality and comfort, traditional elements and beach-friendly ease. “There’s a timelessness to the house,” Wendy says. “There are many things that are on trend, but nothing feels trendy.”
And it’s true—the house beautifully pairs traditional design while keeping an element of surprise. The look is classic but fresh, serving as an excellent representation of its residents’ East-meets-West Coast style. But most importantly, it’s everything that Sarah and her family wanted.