For the first time, Sunset magazine has built its annual Idea House in Southern California. The 4-bedroom, 5½-bath, 4,500-square-foot residence opened for tours last month in Manhattan Beach, just 5 miles from Los Angeles International Airport and less than 2 miles from the shore. The home's style is described as "coastal modern," and outdoors it features a lush garden and pool.

The concept behind the annual Idea House, of course, is to showcase what's new and exciting in design and decor in the West.

"Los Angeles is so cool right now with the great restaurant scene downtown, and it represents our largest area of readership, so it was time to come here with the Idea House," said Joanna Linberg, Sunset's senior home editor.

The backyard of the 2014 Sunset Idea House features a cozy conversation area with a fire pit.
The backyard of the 2014 Sunset Idea House features a cozy conversation area with a fire pit. (Suzanne Sproul)

"The art in the house is incredible, and I think there's an element of discovery," she added. "It's like taking a walk through the creative community of Los Angeles."

Sunset editors teamed up with design and construction partners to create the home, whose aesthetic is eclectic yet sophisticated. Manhattan Beach was chosen, Linberg said, partly because its vibe reflects that of Sunset readers, and partly because it's a perfect location for showcasing the indoor and outdoor features that make for a "dream home." The Idea House, which will be featured in the magazine's November edition, also reflects today's concerns with sustainability in both building and gardening.


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David Dick and Krista Schrock of Los Angeles-based Disc Interiors are the creative team behind the look and feel of the interior.

"Everyone involved has been absolutely wonderful to work with -- by allowing us to do what we wanted," Schrock said. "The Idea House reflects both Sunset's and our tastes -- in designing ahead of the curve and spotlighting trends. We were inspired by European and Belgian design, which is clean, but we also wanted to have a cohesive look that marries the interior and exterior."

Dick said, "This represents a modern take on a traditional beach house and is perfect for this progressive beach community. The term 'modern' often is misunderstood. It's not about skyscrapers and metal and glass. This Idea House is comfortable and a home with a soul. We are using a lot of natural materials and the works of Los Angeles artists, including (ceramacist) Heather Levine."

Though the rooms are generally large, Dick and Schrock were careful to keep clutter to a minimum. "We wanted to maintain a minimalist and clean approach," Dick said. "We played with colors and textures to create a warm, modern feel, even with the window treatments."

This deep, stand-alone oversize bathtub from Kohler is a distinctive part of the master bathroom suite in the 2014 Sunset Idea House.
This deep, stand-alone oversize bathtub from Kohler is a distinctive part of the master bathroom suite in the 2014 Sunset Idea House. (Suzanne Sproul)

But Disc Interiors didn't shy away from bold touches. The designers incorporated furnishings built with sustainable materials. The home's distinctive features include wide-plank white oak floors, black-stained kitchen cabinetry, soapstone kitchen countertops and handmade concrete tiles for the spalike master bathroom suite.

Several rooms have large, eye-catching photo murals on the walls. A 20-foot accordion wall in the living room opens to the backyard. And the kitchen includes a fun, tucked-away combination butler's pantry and bar.

"Sunset readers enjoy their homes and entertaining at home," Schrock said. "The pantry-bar is tiny, but it lends itself to the home mixologist."

The two-story residence was designed to be both comfortable and chic. The kitchen and great room, which are adjacent to each other, also open to the outdoors, thanks to large expanses of retractable glass doors.

The yard has drought-tolerant landscaping, a pool with a spa, a conversation pit, a garden with edible plants, a fruit orchard, a no-mow lawn and an outdoor kitchen. The backyard was designed with the casual beach lifestyle in mind, so that taking a party outdoors can happen almost any day of the year.


The master bedroom features a whole wall of sliding glass doors that open onto a large balcony, erasing the line between indoors and outdoors in the 2014
The master bedroom features a whole wall of sliding glass doors that open onto a large balcony, erasing the line between indoors and outdoors in the 2014 Sunset Idea House. (Suzanne Sproul)