Owner: Karen Harautuneian, founder of Los Angeles-based design firm Hub of the House Studio
Location: Manhattan Beach, California. “I am a native Southern Californian and have always enjoyed the lifestyle that the beach communities offer,” Harautuneian says.
Describing her aesthetic as “cozy California beach with European influences,” Harautuneian says she chose the property initially because she loved the home’s remodeling potential, its location, and its natural light.
Turning a Tiny Duplex Into a ‘Mini-Compound’
After purchasing the initial property, a house built in 1948, Harautuneian added square footage to turn the space (initially a duplex) into a single-family home. She put the main living spaces on the second floor to maximize the views and later purchased the single-family home located behind the house and turned it into a duplex. “I now have a ‘mini-compound’ with a shared backyard, separate guest quarters, and a furnished rental property,” Harautuneian says of the final compound-style property.
It was no small endeavor to get the property to where it is now, but its front and back yards, ocean views, and five-minute walk from the beach made the required remodeling projects a worthy price to pay for the location, Harautuneian says.
“Both homes are 1,200 square feet after remodeling with a shared backyard,” Harautuneian says. “The main home was built in 1948, and the additional property was built in the 1980s. The style is California beach cottage with natural cedar shingles, white trim, gravel yard, and native beach landscaping.”
Thoughtfully Finished Floors Meant to Age
“I used 6-inch red oak solid planks rather than a traditional tongue and groove hardwood floor in the main living areas,” says Harautuneian. “The planks allowed for a long floorboard length as well as having a natural unevenness to them that made them appear original to the house. The floors are stained a rich chestnut brown to compliment my teak countertops and pine paneling.”
Along with creating the ideal aesthetic, Harautuneian also chose floors that will age beautifully. “For the finish, I always prefer a natural oil, as it allows for spot treatment and for the wood to age and patina without yellowing like a traditional lacquer protective sealant,” she explains. “The floors on the ground floor of the house are natural poured concrete, ultra-practical for the gym, laundry room, and halls that lead to the gravel backyard.”
Naturally Scented with Spring Flowers and Sea Breezes
“I love the wisteria and the jasmine planted directly below my window seat,” says Harautuneian. “In the spring, the scents of the flowers combined with the salt breeze waft into the house.”
An Open-Plan Kitchen With Ocean Views
“I love, love, love how my kitchen is layered,” Harautuneian says, noting that her kitchen window seat comes with the best view in the house. “My kitchen and family room are the same shared space with ocean views, a cozy window seat adjacent to the dining table, and a dutch door. We entertain frequently, and this combination makes for a warm, cozy, and intimate cooking and dining experience.”
One Extra-Special Antique Piece
Along with her beloved window seat, the kitchen is home to another piece Harautuneian adores––and as an added bonus, it enhances her WFH life.
“[I love] my antique Japanese Tansu set of drawers located on the countertop directly next to my window seat,” she says. “I often use my window seat as my home office, and the Tansu holds everything that I need for that purpose. Behind the wooden roll-up door are shallow removable drawers, which provide perfect storage for pens, sticky notes, and paper clips, etc.”
Natural Light That Can’t Be Beat
The home’s windows offer more than just a beautiful vantage point. “The quality of the natural light was an important factor in selecting this home,” says Harautuneian. “The main gathering areas on the second floor have windows on multiple walls, which keep them brightly lit all day long. Additionally, the west-facing windows catch the ocean breeze.”
A Dreamy Vintage Bathroom Piece
Harautuneian notes that there’s one feature she adores above the rest in her bathroom: “I love my seated mirrored dressing table. It’s all mirror, vintage, very feminine, and is tucked into a niche next to the window.”
Future Plans to Maximize the Stellar Sea Views
“In the near future, I would like to add a third floor to both maximize the ocean views and increase the entertaining space on the main floor,” says Harautuneian. “As my extended family grows, I would love more space.”