A Manhattan Beach Homeowner Had a Vision for Her Family’s Outdoor Space. Fair Studio Helped Her Make It a Reality

Creative logistics.

  • Category
    Homes, People
  • Written by
    Amber Klinck
  • Photographed by
    Shane O’Donnell

On an oversized lot nestled on the corner of a quiet Manhattan Beach cul-de-sac, Patricia van Hanswijck de Jonge and her husband, Peter Johnstone, found their new home. With plenty of outdoor space, the possibilities were endless when it came to creating a true oasis for the family of five. But they had a lot of work ahead of them.

“The house was heavy in Spanish features when we first bought it about six years ago,” Patricia says. “Saltillo tiles covered all the floor areas inside and out.”

The dark blue hues and dense vegetation surrounding the pool extinguished the natural light. “It was very dark,” she notes. “Like a pond.”

The whole space is a vibe: serene yet playful. It’s equally as ideal for relaxing with a book as it is for hosting friends and watching the kids splash around in the pool. 

But the potential was clear of what the space could be, and Patricia had a plan. Kelsey Fair, lead designer and cofounder of Fair Studio, helped her bring that plan to fruition. “Patricia is extremely creative,” Kelsey says. “Clean lines, a tropical palette and character were all operative words we built the design around.”

Large overgrown trees were replaced with palms and a thoughtful selection of tropical greenery, providing a sense of privacy without blocking the light. “I wanted to transform the pool area into a light, fresh [space] with lots of tropical plants and a streamlined, modern-yet-organic feel,” Patricia says.

All the while, the team kept in mind the home’s Spanish architectural roots. “Patricia’s style is coastal modern,” Kelsey points out. “With a Spanish style house, the trick was to implement materials that felt modern but timeless.”

The family ditched the Saltillo tile in exchange for hardwood floors throughout the interior and limestone by the pool. “We chose limestone for its clean and modern aesthetic,” Patricia says. “It’s a natural stone and feels so lovely on bare feet.”

Patricia and Peter opted to add a large bar and seating area off the pool. “My husband is an Aussie and loves his barbecue,” Patricia shares. “And we love entertaining, so this was a must. We used black-and-white encaustic tiles to add some funk to the bar.”

The whole space is a vibe: serene yet playful. It’s equally as ideal for relaxing with a book as it is for hosting friends and watching the kids splash around in the pool.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, whether or not you’re aware of it. For Patricia, it wasn’t until after the pool renovation was complete that she noticed the space shared a similar aesthetic to a famous print she’s owned for roughly 20 years.

“I only realized later that I was clearly inspired by Slim Aarons, the 1970s American photographer who captured lifestyles of the rich and famous. One of his most popular images, Poolside Gossip, hangs in our living room and features the pool of the iconic Palm Springs Kaufmann Desert House designed by the legendary architect Richard Neutra. I have always loved clean and simple lines; they are timeless.”

The pool area makes a statement, but the main focal point of the home is the courtyard. “The courtyard is a space unto itself. It’s the center of the house; you can see it wherever you are,” Patricia says. “I wanted to transform the courtyard into a green oasis. We chose black-and-white encaustic tiles for the flooring to tie the courtyard in with the bar area. I fell in love with them during our stay in France, where the floors of the old elegant maisons de maître are covered in these tiles—antique ones of course.”

Living in France and Switzerland prior to moving to Manhattan Beach no doubt influenced Patricia’s design choices throughout the property. “Integrating the patterned cement tile in the courtyard changed the entire feeling of how you are welcomed and entertained in the home,” Kelsey points out.

These decisions can make a huge impact on the overall project—much like the right material choices can make or break a desired aesthetic. “Kelsey helped turn my vision into a reality,” Patricia says. “She helped with the execution and the selection of the right materials. If you have never designed an outdoor space, you just have no clue about materials and you need someone to help you with that.”

Transforming their home into what it is today was a major project—one the Johnstone family did piece by piece. Every thoughtful decision made their home more uniquely theirs—a reflection of their taste and lifestyle. Nothing compares to a home that showcases the personal choices of its residents.

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