Three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings and volleyball star Casey Jennings build their dream home
Three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings and volleyball star Casey Jennings build get their dream home
Three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings and volleyball star Casey Jennings build their Western-inspired dream home.
Written by Eliza Krpoyan
Photographed by Lauren Pressey
Three pairs of brown, pint-sized cowboy boots rest at the entrance of Casey Jennings and Kerri Walsh Jennings’ newly built Manhattan Beach home. The boots belong to their two boys, Joey and Sundance, and their daughter, Scout. “I have some Western roots,” explains Casey, who was born in Las Vegas, Nevada. “My dad is a cowboy still to this day.”
The Jennings’ two-story, five-bedroom home is adorned in a neutral palette. Throughout most of the house is a natural, wide-plank wood floor, which Kerri describes as being as warm as sunshine. The walls in the entry, hallways and office are accented with white wainscoting.
In the kitchen, the white ceramic subway tile backsplash complements Caesarstone countertops. All the cabinets were custom-built 1 3⁄4 inches higher than normal to comfortably fit the couple’s height and the family’s lifestyle.
Casey and Kerri prepurchased their home from builder Jim Obradovich, whose plans were to develop the house and sell it. When Casey asked if he could purchase the home in advance, Jim said, “Money talks.”
“I liked him already,” admits Casey. They met to discuss building the spec home, and after getting to know each other, Jim crumpled up the blueprints and said, “Here’s the architect, here’s me, let’s sit down. What do you guys want?”
Among their list of must-haves was a large living space where the family can congregate for games, eating and watching movies. One of the greatest features of this property is the big backyard, where the family can play soccer, work out and, of course, play volleyball. “It’s important to have space in life—metaphorically and in reality,” says Kerri, who grew up on an acreage of land in Saratoga, California. “Now our kids have a place to go play and explore.”
Another request was a Western-style fence in the front yard and on the balcony. Jim agreed to the customizations. “It was really nice of him to let us do that,” Casey says, “because I don’t think that was normal.”
Jim’s wife, Karen, also helped pick out all of the tiles and surfaces. “We lucked out with good people,” Casey affirms. “Jim and Karen built the house so, so well,” adds Kerri. “They put in so much heart and integrity.”
Once the foundation was complete, Casey and Kerri enlisted Suzanne Ascher of Waterleaf Interiors, who has lived in Manhattan Beach for 22 years. Suzanne and her right-hand on the project, Diana Richardson, went to work on planning every space of the home.
Suzanne’s philosophy with this and every project is to understand the needs, wants and lifestyle of the clients. Her goal is to bring it to fruition in a format that makes aesthetic sense, while never compromising function.
“I’m not interested in the latest trends,” she says. “I’m happiest if a project is timeless, never hinting its date of birth. There are many factors that come into play when working in a family’s home. I try to consider the present architecture, individuals’ wants, taste, lifestyle and any heir- loom pieces the family may want to honor.”
For the Jennings family home, Suzanne opted for a soft and durable color scheme including oatmeal linen and shades of grey, white and pale blue. “We infused more intense color and character with accessories that are easily interchangeable,” she says.
In the master bedroom hangs a piece of art that spells “happiness” in jumbled letters—a Christmas gift from Casey to Kerri. Kerri surprised Casey with a heart embedded in the shower tile.
“It’s all of these little things that add up to a feeling of a loved environment,” says Kerri. “There’s nothing more important than a family’s home and the love that’s inside it. The materials inside are just that—they’re materials—but they signify a lot. That’s the fun part of expressing personalities and a shared vision.”
Suzanne’s design harmoniously brought together sentimental pieces with entirely new furniture. “The art that is Western or movie- oriented reflects what we love—what we love together and what we love individually,” adds Kerri. “It’s our lifestyle hanging on the walls, and it’s in every touch.”
Growing up, Casey spent his summers around horses and cows in northern Nevada where his uncle had a ranch. Zion, Utah is also a special place for Casey. It’s where his father would take him and his four older brothers camping. It’s also where the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was filmed. This is one of Casey and Kerri’s favorite movies and also why they chose the name Sundance for their son. Cool Hand Luke—an original poster of that film and also another favorite of the couple’s—hangs in the office.
Among Kerri’s favorite pieces of art in the house is a silhouetted photo of Casey and two of his brothers. “Every year I take a camping trip with my brothers,” explains Casey, who set up his camera to capture them in the middle of the desert. “Not everyone can make it all of the time. Three of us made it on this last trip to Zion.”
While collaborating on art, Casey was reminiscing on family photos from the camping trip. The shot of Casey and his brothers caught Suzanne’s eye. “I love it! We’ve got to make this work,” she said. In agreement, Kerri said, “Let’s blow it up!” Suzanne took the photo to Manhattan Beach-based artist Je Carson. The finished product of three men wearing cowboy hats hangs to the right of the fireplace.
On the opposite side, an image of a horse’s face peering through her tousled mane complements Casey’s photo. “Both these pieces have a mysterious feeling to them. You don’t realize what you’re looking at until you look a little deeper,” says Suzanne.
In reference to the home’s Western inspiration, Casey says, “It’s all connected. Though the seed was planted in me when I was a kid, it’s now Kerri and I and our kids.”
Casey describes his favorite aspect of their home, saying, “It’s our roots, our careers, our children’s interests and all of our healthy lifestyles wrapped into one special place.”