There Are Plenty of Beautiful Houses in the South Bay, but It’s What’s Inside That Makes Them a Home

House to home.

  • Category
    Homes, People
  • Written by
    Amber Klinck
  • Photographed by
    Siri Berting & Lauren Taylor

There was no singular incentive that inspired Leah and Greg Rodgers to move across the country. It was more a series of events all pointing west, with the start of COVID-19 being the first. 

“We lived for 15 years in midtown Manhattan,” Leah notes. “It was bustling with tons of people, and that’s what we liked about it.” The couple’s son, Franklin, was born in the city—a true New Yorker.

But when the pandemic hit, the Rodgers family headed to Montauk on Long Island for what they thought would be a few weeks. “We lived out there for 18 months,” Leah says. But it wasn’t quite the right fit. “It was so isolated, and Franklin wasn’t really learning anything through virtual school.”

“One of our biggest priorities was creating a home where you can feel comfortable.” 

While they were there, Greg’s mother passed away. Living closer to Greg’s father was a priority for the family, and soon moving to California became a topic of discussion.

“When I first came to the South Bay, honestly I just came for one weekend with Greg,” Leah notes. “We said on the plane we were just looking. By the end of the weekend, we were in escrow.”

It’s not hard to imagine what drew the couple to the Hermosa Beach multilevel home with unobstructed views of the coast. It checked all the boxes; they just needed to make it their own. Valerie Sartini, interior designer and CEO of Treasures Interior Design, was brought in to guide them through the process. Soon after, the bicoastal collaboration began.

“One of our biggest priorities was creating a home where you can feel comfortable. We also wanted a beautiful aesthetic, but we needed it to be warm and inviting—very family-living,” Leah says. “After that, it was our artwork.”

Through art, the family shares their story throughout the home, offering guests a glimpse of who they are—the things that bring them joy, tributes to places they’ve lived and traveled, symbols of family and unions. It’s a form of expression Leah learned early in life.

“When I was growing up, my parents did a really good job of taking us to museums when we would travel,” she shares. “If I ever really want to feel calm and peaceful, I love going to a museum. And when I was very young, they actually owned part of an art gallery in New Orleans.”

Treasured keepsakes from Greg’s side of the family are also showcased in the home. “My father-in-law gave Franklin his didgeridoo from Australia,” Leah notes. Candlesticks that Greg’s father purchased in Thailand are displayed in the yoga/meditation room.

The home masterfully merges old and new pieces, modern and traditional aesthetics. It’s playful and interesting while maintaining a cohesive feeling throughout the home. Greg’s office has a pop of neon light and a portrait of Batman. “It’s not your traditional home office,” Valerie says with a smile. “It’s fun to work with clients who understand art. That’s where a lot of families drop the ball. It really finishes the home.”

In order to fully understand Leah and Greg’s style, Valerie traveled to Montauk to view their artwork in person. “She got a sense of our personality and what we liked,” Leah says.

In addition to curating the family’s art collection in their new space, Valerie got to work adding personality to the home in other ways. “She added beautiful tile work, wallpaper and paneling. She also did a tremendous job on the lighting. Everyone who comes to the house just loves it,” Leah adds.

Handmade pieces take time—particularly during a global pandemic—but the results speak for themselves. The light fixtures in the home are their own form of art, making corridors come to life. “Lighting can work like artwork,” Valerie points out. “They make a statement, but they don’t overpower. So it was important that everything worked together.”

Ocean views reveal themselves throughout the house, but the staircase to the rooftop deck leads to the most impressive display. “We come up here all the time. It’s a great space to hang out with friends, drink wine. There’s a firepit … it’s just wonderful,” Leah says.

Not everything that led the Rodgers family to Hermosa Beach was easy, “like moving in the seventh grade when you’ve been through a global pandemic,” Leah says of Franklin’s experience. But in some ways, it feels full circle: Greg moved to Hermosa in the seventh grade as well. “His dad was in the Air Force, so they moved all over,” Leah notes.

Being close to Greg’s father has been such a positive experience for the family. Life is busy with activities and friends, and their new home reflects that. It’s warm, inviting and a true representation of its residents.

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