A local South Bay woman balances being a business owner and a mom from the comfort of her own home.
Photographed by Lauren Pressey
To say Wendy Word has good grasp of the various Manhattan Beach boroughs would be an understatement. As the owner of Wendy Word Design, a full-service interior design firm with a large South Bay-based clientele, Wendy and her team have worked on projects covering every inch of the tiny Beach City, as well as up and down the West Coast.
But her Manhattan Beach roots are more personal than professional. “I’ve lived in the Tree Section, I’ve lived in the Sand Section, now I’m living in the Hill Section,” notes Wendy, who has lived in the South Bay since graduating from UCLA. “I don’t think that I could pick a favorite—there are no bad spots in Manhattan Beach.”
So when the opportunity came to design her own home on a coveted lot in the Beach City where she has worked and lived for years, Wendy took it. “This is an ideal setting for my family,” she explains. “We can be active outdoors while having access to all the amenities of LA, minus the hustle and bustle. It’s just enough off the grid without feeling too remote.”
With the perfect locale locked down for Wendy and her two sons, Alec and Jonny, she got to work creating the perfect space for her family and her business. The process began at the end of 2012 when she found the lot.
“I contemplated ideas of what to do—a tear-down or a remodel—but it just made more sense to start from the beginning,” Wendy explains. “There wasn’t much to be salvaged.”
In 2013 she began working with architect Michael Eserts, principal of Eserts Studio in Santa Monica. “Working with Michael was a dream,” Wendy says. “The entire process was streamlined from the beginning. He really helped me sift through all of my ideas and all of the things I’ve seen and been exposed to. He helped me define what I was looking for in my own home.”
After years of helping clients bring their dreams to reality (Wendy started her design business in 2004), she was now—for the first time—doing a project from the ground up with only her own family’s needs in mind. And while she loved the experience, it gave her an entirely new perspective. “I really have a new appreciation for clients that may have a difficult time making a decision,” she says.
The build took a total of 18 months, starting in February 2014 and ending in the fall of 2015. The goal of the project, which Wendy refers to as “Scandia Beach,” was to create a “low-key, luxury and calm retreat—a space to live casually, relax together and entertain.” Mission accomplished.
Flooded with natural light, open floor plans and high ceilings, Wendy’s home is absolutely stunning, while still maintaining a warm and welcoming livability that caters to the needs of family life. Signs of Wendy’s impeccable taste and years of experience as a designer are sprinkled throughout the house.
The kitchen is clad in Turkish marble with elements of movement that mimic both the sky and the sea. The floors are European white oak, laid with random width for a more relaxed feel. The exterior wood element wraps into the interior entry and conceals an integrated powder room with glass tile walls boasting a quiet iridescence. “It felt like a more natural option than wallpaper here,” Wendy explains.
After seeing some of Wendy’s previous projects and now viewing her own home, what is perhaps most striking is how unique each and every project is from the others. “We’re not here to give you our look; we’re here to help you find yours,” she says. “Our work is meant to be a reflection of you and your lifestyle.
However, it’s Wendy’s role as mom—not designer—that really brings the space together for her and her boys. “They motivate everything I do,” Wendy says. “We are truly Team Word, with me acting as the captain and Alec and Jonny as my two MVPs.”
The media room serves as a dedicated zone for the boys to hang out, study or entertain their friends. “I can always tell how many kids are here by the number of shoes at the front door,” Wendy notes. “The house has become a nice hub for the boys.”
Ironically, the greatest feature of the home that benefits Wendy as a mom equally serves her professionally: her studio. “It really answers my need to pursue my career while not missing a moment with my boys,” Wendy explains.
The dedicated work space is connected to the second floor with its own deck, full bathroom and hidden Murphy bed—just in case the room is needed for an impromptu house guest. And while Wendy may have to “clock in” a few times after-hours in the studio, it’s a welcome tradeoff for the flexibility it provides. “I don’t think [the boys] really feel the rigor of my schedule because I have the ability to be present as a parent and designer,” Wendy explains.
With her reputation solidified and her business continually growing, Wendy and her team of four keep their schedules full focusing on “multiple complex projects from start to finish, ground-up construction and all interior elements and furnishings.” They’re a full-service boutique firm with Wendy at the center balancing her role as business owner and mom and doing it well.