Cynthia and Jeremy Clarke Collaborated with Some of the South Bay’s Most Talented to Design the Perfect Home for Their Growing Family

La casa azul.

  • Category
  • Written by
    Amber Klinck
  • Photographed by
    Lauren Pressey

Located on the upper corner of a Manhattan Beach walk street, Cynthia and Jeremy Clarke’s modern custom home is hard to miss. The exterior of the house has a blue hue that pairs beautifully with the home’s design and otherwise neutral palette.

“It’s a playful modern,” notes Michael Lee, principal architect and founder of Michael Lee Architects. “It has more color than a lot of modern houses, which I think was a huge home run.” And ultimately that’s a decision he credits to Cynthia and Jeremy. “It’s a perfect example of how collaboration can be so fruitful. I think it’s incredible.”

The landscaping, expertly curated by Rob Jones of Jones Landscapes, adds pops of green and earthy tones along the house and up the stairs toward the main entrance. Elevated from the street and flooded with natural light, the second-floor entry feels spacious and inviting.

“We wanted to bring in as much light as we could,” Cynthia says. “A lot of times with a long, skinny lot, the entries are often dark, small and not very interesting,” Michael adds. “That’s why we have this giant window here.”

Sharing the second floor of the home is a master suite with an ocean-facing patio, guest and children’s bedrooms, and a laundry room. “Michael suggested we have the laundry room on the same floor as the bedrooms,” Cynthia says—a pro tip the soon-to-be mother of two was grateful to receive. All in all, the home has five bedrooms, with four on the second level and one on the first.

The ground level of the home has an office (or fifth bedroom) and a large family room that opens to a patio facing the walk street and a clear pathway to the sand. “We have no yard,” Cynthia says, “but Jeremy always says our yard is the beach.”

What they don’t have in the way of a yard, they more than make up for in views and outdoor living spaces. The original home the Clarkes purchased in 2017 had more square footage than their current new build. After taking the existing property down to the studs, the Clarkes opted to reduce the square footage in order to maximize the outdoor space of their new home.

“Many of my clients today want more open space,” Michael explains. “They’re more concerned with outdoor living than square footage.”

The main hub of the home is on the third floor. The kitchen, dining and living room share one large, open, communal area. It’s also where the home showcases the benefits of prioritizing outdoor space. “When we have people over, this ends up being where we all hang out,” Cynthia notes.

The kitchen looks like a culinary artist’s dream, though Cynthia is the first to admit they’re not “big chefs.” The pool table in the center of the space transitions into a dining table—just another clever example of the Clarkes maximizing space and functionality.

Everywhere you look there’s an opportunity to catch sight of the home’s impressive ocean views. The walls are lined with windows. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors open to two large patios that feel more like outdoor living rooms—one north-facing, one south-facing.

For Cynthia, there’s an ease that comes with such an uncluttered layout. “I love all the open space because I can be in the kitchen cooking, cleaning or prepping, and [my daughter] can be running around and I can still see her.”

Having gone through much of the design and build process while pregnant and then eventually as new parents, the Clarkes were efficient with their decision-making. “We were both working crazy hours and had a newborn, so we would get a few suggestions, pick something and move on,” Cynthia notes. It was also important to make design choices that were timeless and would evolve with the needs of their family.

Moving from a roughly 1,000-square-foot apartment into a 4,000+-square-foot house, the Clarkes enlisted the help of Diana Miller, lead residential designer at House of Honey, to help pick furniture and décor for their new abode. The cabinetry, hardware, flooring and stonework were done with Michael and his team.

A lot has changed since Cynthia and Jeremy moved into their new home at the end of 2019, and a lot more will change after the arrival of their second baby. But the process of building a home for their growing family has been such a positive experience for the couple. “It’s really hard to imagine doing this better than we already did. This is everything we wanted,” Cynthia says.

Guiding them through the design and build was Michael, of course, but Cynthia and Jeremy came into the process ready to make decisions. “They were fantastic clients,” Michael says. “They were very hands-on and focused on quality and getting it right.”

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