Inside a Midcentury-Modern California Gem That Blends Soho House Vibes with a Love for the Lakers

When Peter McPhee hired Christie Ward and Staver Gray of AD PRO Directory firm Ward + Gray to reinvent the interiors of his midcentury-modern home in coastal Palos Verdes, California, he knew firsthand about their authentic spaces with a strong connection to place. McPhee, the former CFO for Soho House, had long admired their work for the global hospitality brand and envisioned a practical design that wouldn’t sacrifice style. “I have a family with a big dog and three kids,” he says. “We wanted a creative environment with a unique perspective that you might not generally find in Southern California.”

The 1960 house, perched on a hill near the beach, has classic midcentury-modern characteristics—a ceiling that continues from the interior to the exterior, anchored by a large wall of windows that bathes the house in natural light, and a fireplace in the center of the living area. Instead of leaning into the style’s more tired tropes, though, Ward + Gray came up with an idiosyncratic plan for a globally inspired, contemporary interpretation of modernism that reflects the client’s time spent traveling and working in the hospitality industry. “We love mixing patterns, antiques, and styles from different eras,” says Gray. “And we wanted to make the house feel as though the pieces were collected over time rather than designed and installed all at once.”

This approach meant plenty of customization executed by local manufacturers, as well as the incorporation of McPhee and his wife Cindy’s love of the Lakers and the NBA team’s signature purple hue. The kitchen, a hub of activity for the family, was updated with amber-brown-stained cabinetry and a 14-foot-long center island to accommodate everything from cooking to homework. Upholstered barstools with a 1920s vibe, in a deep amethyst linen, hit the purple goal as did a swath of sumptuous lilac marble placed behind the range. “We created something hardwearing and casual—because they entertain a lot, the island was key,” Gray says. “We didn’t gravitate naturally to purples, but we had a lot of fun with it.”

The primary bath, with a reeded wood vanity painted in a Farrow & Ball aubergine, is offset by a black and white Ward + Gray–designed tile inspired by a 1960s pattern. For the primary bedroom, they eliminated a pony wall and refashioned it into a freestanding headboard. The proximity to the ocean called for fabrics like the Belgium striped linen on the headboard, and gauzy window treatments. “Being near the beach inspired us to incorporate a lightness with a more natural feel,” Ward says.

A built-in bench in the entry captures that organic texture with cushions covered in hard wearing vintage kilim rugs sourced from Etsy and mixed with indigo throw pillows. In the dining area, a pair of Spanish bronze 1970s table lamps wearing Pierre Frey linen shades provide weighty contrast atop a Hollywood at Home wicker credenza. The living room sofa gave Ward + Gray an opportunity to use a favorite, but since-discontinued Zak+Fox linen fabric on the sofa, from a stash they had stored away.

The house also became a research and development site for the designers’ new bespoke rug line. In particular, the Dune rug in the living room fashioned in a high-and-low-pile combination of jute, hemp, and hand-knotted wool, is a playful nod to drawing circles in the sand at the beach. But the heart of the home is arguably the fireplace. “It became a centering force for the project,” says Ward. Once covered with white painted brick, it was reclad in plaster and untreated metal, which has already begun to patina in the salty ocean air. A near replica of the McPhees’ favorite feature at the Soho House in Malibu, the two-sided fireplace can be enjoyed in all the common areas.

The project’s real accomplishment, says Gray, is how “the scale feels intimate—there’s plenty of room for the family to have their privacy, but the house also has a great flow. There’s not any unused space. It’s exactly what they need.”

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