A married couple blends minimalistic style with family functionality for their joyful Manhattan Beach home.
After years of living on the East Coast, Sarah and Jason Ro learned the value of making the most of their space. “We moved from New York almost five years ago,” Sarah, now a South Bay resident, notes. But it was during their time at the University of Pennsylvania that the couple initially met.
“We met in college, married young and spent about 15 years out East. Then we had our second [child], and I was done with apartment living. Plus we always knew we’d be back.”
Originally from Palos Verdes, Sarah’s family played a big part in the couple’s relocation to Southern California. “My parents are still here, and my sister and her family live five minutes from where we grew up,“ she explains. But it would be in Manhattan Beach that the couple would purchase a single-level home, only to scrap it and start from scratch.
“We tried to add a floor, but when we worked through it, it wasn’t making sense. So we took it down,” explains Jason.
The family rented in Redondo Beach during the 14 months it took to build the new house. As two creatives working on their own home—Jason as the designer and Sarah as the interior guru—the couple had a distinct vision of what they wanted for their family. By the time the project was complete, they couldn’t wait to get in the door.
“We moved in December 23. We had a sofa, that was it—and a little Christmas tree in the corner,” Sarah notes.
A lot has changed since then. Merging a minimalistic style with expansive living areas and family functionality, the couple has created a clean but warm living space that serves the needs of the household while showcasing their own sophisticated style.
Rich with natural light, floors of porcelain tile and white oak, this modern-meets-beach home pairs an urban feel with the necessities of an energetic family of five. Comfort and everyday livability are at the forefront, backed by an artistically cool, undeniably smart communal vibe.
The lines are blurred between the kitchen, living and dining areas, with massive glass doors leading outside—further adding to the light,
airy feel of the home. Coming from New York, “we’re used to one open living space,” Sarah explains. With an outdoor fridge, grill and heat lamps over a lengthy dining table, the yard serves as an extension of their open living space—making it perfect for entertaining guests and family dinners alfresco.
The kitchen, like the rest of the home, is flooded with natural light—pouring in from the windows that line the top of the cabinets. Danby marble counters and streamlined, hidden storage add a modern touch, complementing the practicality of the kitchen’s more casual built-in eating area.
The small craft room off the entry of the home serves as a go-to for Sarah’s projects. “It was either going to be a mudroom or my little study/craft room,” she explains. A peek inside shows an abundance of decorations in preparation of their daughter’s first birthday. Sarah smiles and says, “In Korean tradition [the first birthday] is kind of a big deal.”
Further evidence of the youngest members of the Ro family can be found upstairs. The kids’ rooms boast huge windows and an abundance of storage. “Everything is behind doors,” Sarah notes, providing a remarkably clutter-free alternative to bins and shelves.
In addition to the many incredible pieces of artwork found throughout the house, framed paintings done by the children are hung in the upstairs hallway—which also serves as another seating area in the home. “We wanted the hallway to feel like a continuation
of our upstairs space,” Jason explains.
A pillow-lined bench with splashes of color and printed patterns—“I’m a serious pillow person,” says Sarah—makes the area incredibly inviting. As for the kids, she continues, “Sometimes they play here or just run around.”
Off the hall, Jason points out, is “the brain of the house,” with a sound system operable by phone, as well as a family room that doubles as a guest room with wall-to-wall storage and a guest bath.
The master suite, in addition to having massive yet surprising private windows, has its own deck. “We put the master on this side so we could catch the sunset,” Jason explains.
Staying consistent with the rest of the house, even the closet in Sarah and Jason’s room is filled with natural light. The master bath has its own steam shower and stunning tub … though Sarah points out it’s usually only the kids that use it.
With high ceilings (nearly 20 feet in the dining area), large doors and windows, the house is certainly expansive—but surprisingly cozy. It’s minimal without feeling empty and modern while still having warmth.
It’s juxtapositions like this that make this home so unique—that along with Sarah’s and Jason’s welcoming dispositions. It’s East-Coast-meets-West-Coast, and it works.