Interior designer Peter Dunham reinvents a Southern California condo with open living spaces and a first-class view.
1 of 10Photo: Lisa Romerein; Stylist: Liz Strong
Room with a View
The expansive wall of windows lining this light-filled Hermosa Beach condo establishes a delightful illusion. "You feel like you're on the beach even though you're not actually standing on it," says the owner, noting that when she and her husband sit in front of their glass sliding doors, all they see is sand and sea.
The spirited stretch of shoreline is the same one that her husband, an avid body surfer, has frequented since his 20s. "There is an amazing parade of life here," says the wife, a network television executive. "Between the ocean and the interesting people, the scene is always changing."
Sliding glass doors replace the condo's ocean-facing wall, flooding the newly revamped space with natural light and revealing expansive views of Hermosa Beach. The rug is a Mongolian flatweave from Jamal's Rug Collection, and the surfboards are vintage.
The Manhattan-based couple bought the 1,400-square-foot home to serve as their landing pad for her frequent business trips to the West Coast, and hired L.A.–based interior designer Peter Dunham and architect Tim Barber to modernize the interior. "The standout feature here was always this drop-dead view," says Dunham, "so we set out to better connect the indoors with the tremendous vista, to make them work better together."
Envisioning a contemporary interpretation of an old California surf cottage, Dunham and Barber used white wood paneling to unite a central living area, and installed oak flooring to blend with the color of the sand. A sunny dining nook with cozy built-in banquette seating occupies a corner just inside the ocean-facing glass doors, which stretch nearly floor to ceiling and replace a smaller, standard set of sliding doors, and a former porch.
The team removed a cabinetry partition that blocked natural light from entering the kitchen, and extended the cook space to be closer to the view. See the after next.
4 of 10Photo courtesy of Tim Barber
Light-Filled Kitchen (After)
Behind the dining nook, the galley kitchen (formerly closed off from the view) was elongated to bring it closer to the windows. With so much natural light, lacquered cabinetry and a custom backsplash reflect the hues outside. "By giving the surfaces a glossy finish, the kitchen takes on the subtle colors of the shoreline," says Barber.
He and Dunham designed the island seating to face out, toward the ocean and the living area, rather than the interior of the kitchen. "This openness—to each other and to the outdoors—feels very right," says the owner, who frequently entertains friends and family. "It's a modern way to live."
5 of 10Photo: Lisa Romerein; Stylist: Liz Strong
Contemporary-Meets-Colorful Living Room
The living room side of the island is outfitted with built-in bookcases and serves as an anchor wall for the sofa. "My primary concern here was function," says Dunham, who created a seating area that faces the fireplace "to make the living room feel less like a place to pass through and more like a destination."
To help maintain uninterrupted beach and ocean views, he chose low-profile pieces like a pair of 1960s-inspired armchairs (upholstered in a muted leaf-pattern linen), along with custom linen sofas, both by Lee Jofa, and a woven wicker ottoman with a leather cushion. A wool rug grounds the area in oceangoing blue and white stripes, with additional shots of pattern and color from throw pillows in energetic sunset and indigo hues.
The bedrooms line a single hallway and are all relatively similar in layout, so "it was important to set them apart from one another," says Dunham. A custom indigo wallpaper—copied from one of Dunham's fabrics—and vintage Moroccan floorcoverings are among the original details that infuse the spaces with a sense of individuality. "The idea is that guests shouldn't feel like guests; they should feel as comfortable as if they were at home," the designer says.
Other elements in the bedroom include the natural rush bed, a 1970s bamboo mirror, and a fan with walnut-stained solid wood blades.
7 of 10Photo: Lisa Romerein; Stylist: Liz Strong
Small, Pattern-Rich Guestroom
For the smallest of the three bedrooms (opposite), he chose an imposing four-poster oak bed that reaches a couple inches shy of the ceiling. "In small rooms, I think it's better to scale up rather than down," he says. Rajmata patterned fabric from his own line hangs behind the headboard to bring in color and softness, and a custom table crafted with vintage roping complements the beach views by adding a nautical element.
In the master bedroom, bulky built-in shelves were removed to make the space more airy. See the after next.
9 of 10Photo: Lisa Romerein; Stylist: Liz Strong
Restful Master Retreat
In the master bedroom, inset panels papered with a Japanese tatami grasscloth provide textural contrast to smooth detailing such as a sleek orange leather headboard and seamless wood paneling (Dunham's contemporary interpretation of the wall treatments that came en vogue in the 1970s).
"This room is furthest from the ocean, so the idea was to really create a sense of warmth here," he says. "In this part of California, everything revolves around life outdoors, so we set out to integrate land and seascape as much as possible," says Dunham. Barber agrees: "Much of our attention was focused on drawing attention to the view, and maximizing the bounce of natural light."
The bed upholstery is orange leather, and the pillows are crafted from vintage tapestry.