Bernstein Residence
Manhattan Beach, CA
Size: 1,400 s.f.
Construction Cost: $105/s.f.
Date completed: July 2001

Situated on a relatively small (50′x 93′) lot, the original post-war home was 1,400 sq. ft. With the addition/remodel, the living space has been expanded to 3,400 sq. ft, including 5 bedrooms and a studio. The parti diagram consists of two distinct volumes being held together by a cord. One volume being a wedge, the other a box. The cord is the open stair landing at the second level. Within this concept the zoning is defined.
Public spaces are at the main level. Separation of areas is subtly implied while still keeping the openness of the owner’s informal lifestyle. This separation is done through a variety of ceiling treatments and heights. Although the main level flows openly, small intimate niches are carved to create a retreat. Many rooms below and above have dual uses, therefore, requiring less square footage.

The detailing utilizes a variety of materials including wood, carbon steel, bamboo, stainless steel, glass and plastic. Eliminating the need for any artificial lighting throughout the day.

The real challenge to this design was the budget restraint and the need to maximize square footage. The design and specifications were constantly aimed to accommodate this restrictive budget and was built for $105/s.f.

Designed for a blended family with four children living within a limited space, the plan is a procession of volumes and uses. A soft curve invites the visitor into a 19′ high gallery. One wall is washed with light from a row of skylights. The family room/living space has a ceiling with exposed trusses and is divided into two separate “rooms”;one open area with volume space, glass, and entertainment area, and another with a 9′ flat ceiling to work as a playroom within direct view of the kitchen. In addition, there is a recessed window seat for a private hide-away. Similar to the family room/living area, the dining room and kitchen represent a single area separated by an exposed moment frame.

In the Foyer an open staircase follows the curved wall transitioning to the second floor. This innovative, yet inexpensive staircase brings together many of the materials used throughout the house –Douglas Fir, iron, sandblasted plastic sheeting, stainless steel bolts. The open stair landing at the upper level, or cord, connects the private wings and utilizes this otherwise dead space as a library viewed from below.

The curve is carried up from the entry below and splits the second level into two wings; children’s and master. The master wing includes sliding French doors to a European balcony. In the master bath, the curved wall shapes the space and natural light pours in from skylights and windows of sandblasted glass, eliminating the need for drapery. An old fashioned freestanding tub is framed by the curved wall. The children’s wing includes three distinct bedrooms, one with a closet door shaped as a barn door that slides away to expose a built-in desk.