This Coastal Colonial-Inspired Manhattan Beach Home Offers a Few Playful Surprises

See it on the Sophisticated Snoops Home Tour.

  • Category
  • Written by
    Darren Elms
  • Photographed by
    Jaimie Solano

Although she grew up in Southern California with an abundance of Spanish-style stucco walls and tile roofs, Helen Underhill dreamed of a colonial home. “I was drawn to something different,” she shares. When she and her family acquired a narrow lot on 29th Street in Manhattan Beach, she knew her architect, Mark Trotter, would have to get creative to achieve her vision.

“We met with Mark almost every week for six months,” Helen shares. “He was very open to our ideas, as well as providing us with his own guidance and input. We are extremely detail-oriented and gave Mark a five-page list of our ‘wish list’ items. It was a long list, but Mark was able to squeeze it all in and make efficient use of every inch of our buildable space.”

Custom-built in 2018, the beautiful two-story home showcases a stunning combination of traditional design and modern flair. Mark achieved the colonial look with white wood siding, multi-paneled windows with black shutters, and an eye-catching decorative entrance with columns and a triangular pediment. The home also enjoys a coastal vibe with porthole windows.


Inside, Jennifer Allison’s thoughtful design brings together a navy, blue, grey and white color scheme with occasional red accents. The home includes a cozy living room with textured wallpaper and a show-stopping kitchen full of bucket-list appliances. Floor-to-ceiling pocket doors exemplify that desired California indoor/outdoor living. Outside the family enjoys a perfectly designed swim jet pool, Jacuzzi, drizzle wall and fire features.

One of the more unusual elements of the home is the indoor basketball court in the basement. “When we were looking at the layout of the basement, Mark explained that nowadays the basement can go under the garage,” Helen says. “We looked at that space on the plans and Mark said, ‘You know, the ceilings under the garage will be 15 feet high. You could have a basketball court in there.’ We all laughed and then looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s do it!’”

While she doesn’t think her 9- and 11-year-old kids will aspire to become basketball stars, Helen loves having a dedicated space in the house for them to get their energy out. After winning a signed Magic Johnson jersey at a P.S. I Love You Foundation fundraiser, the room suddenly became home to other basketball treasures.

“When the vendor was delivering the Magic jersey to our house, he let us know that he also had Shaq and Kobe signed jerseys,” she says. “All of a sudden I could envision a wall in the basketball court with all the various famous jerseys to make it even more special.”

Want to see it in person? The home will be part of the 45th annual Sophisticated Snoop Home Tour, benefiting American Martyrs School, on May 17–19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To reserve your tickets, visit

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