A modern tree house built for family living in Manhattan Beach

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This three-story contemporary home was designed for family living by Studio 9 One 9, located on a hilltop elevation in Manhattan Beach, California. The project involved creating a home for a young family on a compact walk street lot that would give them a sense of peace and privacy, while at the same time not isolating them from a lively beachfront community. The original home that stood on the lot was a 50s duplex, which was typical of the area, but had fallen into complete disrepair.

The architects solution was to create a home that feels like it is suspended high above the ground, amongst the treetops. The home was then dubbed “the tree house”. The homeowners were inspired to create this tree house feeling from a recent trip they had taken to Botswana. They had loved where they had stayed, it was up in the trees. The idea of a modern tree house became the guiding force for the design of this project. The architect began with re-energizing the front yard. It is an extension of the indoor seating area and helps the family to interact with the beach community that surrounds them.

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The architects design for this family home was to strike the perfect balance between public and private. The home’s elevated hillside location and the surrounding trees offers the family privacy, yet its openness and connection to the walk street and adjacent park give them a sense of being part of the beach community.

Above, the kitchen features taupe colored glass cabinets from Scandalini. The architect did not want to use more wood for the cabinets and it helps to reflect light from the windows and open doors. Sliding glass doors are kept open quite often to bring in fresh ocean breezes.

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The architect carefully selected the materials palette, wanting to make the modern architecture feel warm and cozy with the use of natural materials. Limestone, bronze, glass and koa wood (sustainable South American hardwood, used for its durability) have been integrated into the design of this home.

The koa wood works well in a beach environment, where harsh elements of the sun, wind and salt spray can be very damaging. This wood was also integrated into the floors and ceilings, creating visual continuity between indoors and out. The richness of textures between the wood and stone infuses warmth into the home, getting rid of some of the starkness of drywall.

RELATED: A Manhattan Beach house that is decadent indoors and out

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What We Love: This home was built for family living, the open plan interiors, child-friendly furnishings and materials and a wonderful indoor-outdoor connection. The exterior facade with its tree house feel has been masterfully designed, while indoor spaces have a mix of privacy and a connection with its beachside community.

Readers, what are your thoughts on this home, do you think it has a tree house feel? Do you find the design works well for family living? Why or why not, let us know your comments below.

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An open concept living room, dining room and kitchen creates a harmonious flow, while an outdoor deck shares a dual-sided fireplace with the living room. The stone element helps to create a structural support for the master bedroom suite above. The clients did the interior design themselves, selecting, chic, modern pieces. Ultra-suede fabrics were selected for the furnishings, which are very child-friendly.

RELATED: Modern beach style reinvented in a Manhattan Beach house

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The staircase is illuminated by a skylight and George Nelson fixtures from above. Large stair treads creates an eye-catching aesthetic, while a wall of Lexan with reeds is backlit behind the staircase. This helps to create a nightlight if someone is using the staircase at night. There is also an elevator, in case climbing the staircase gets cumbersome with young children.

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Photos: Courtesy of Studio 9 one 9

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