Mandy Cheng helps a home go through a massive renovation to create a colorful, cohesive, and cozy family home in a 3500-square-foot Manhattan Beach home.
Photos by Madeline Tolle
For designer, creating a quintessentially California home is child’s play, even when the ask is to do so while making it kid-friendly. So it was no trouble when her Manhattan Beach clients wanted to renovate their Cape Cod-style home away from Shabby Chic and into a contemporary and inviting space for the whole fam.
“The home is the perfect mix of effortless sophistication and cool, California-modern vibes,” Mandy says. “I would actually describe the clients the exact same way.”
Those vibes translate into a living room that amps up modern organic style, an intergalactic boy’s bedroom, a guest room that’s always stocked with fresh flowers, and an extra moody and modern dining room. Mandy handled the full renovation with the help of Homepolish Build partner Armin Missaghi.
“The house has all new floors, stairs, stair rail, bathrooms, paint, etc,” Mandy says. “For me, the overarching theme in designing the house was to make it feel charming and bright. With two young children running around, the spaces needed to feel friendly while still respecting the fact that the clients wanted a sophisticated home to live and entertain in. There was definitely a monumental portion of my life in 2018 dedicated towards making this home feel vibrant, cozy, colorful, and cohesive.”
That grand, double-height living room surely sets the tone, with its naturalistic palette and shock of plush blue velvet, but it’s the dining room where you get your first hint at something truly daring
“The clients asked for a bold dining room wall color from the very beginning,” Mandy says. “I sat in that room with my paint chips spread out, holding them up at various times of day to see how the light felt. It’s dramatic but not so formal that you can’t eat there every day. When the project was still underway, that was the room I always found myself gravitating to when I needed to shoot off emails, make phone calls, or have a sit and think. It’s very calming.”
To keep the color from feeling overwhelming Mandy wove organic touches throughout, adding hints of zen to the stronger shocks of color.
“Having natural elements and earthy vibes sprinkled throughout every space is a big underlying part of my design style,” Mandy says. “I strongly believe that these elements are what make a space feel inviting, cozy, and familiar, so it seeps into my design choices almost inherently.”
Things get a little out-of-this-world in the little boy’s room. Astronaut decals, a 3-D moon light, and aerospace accents abound but feel more elevated-than-themey thanks to grown-up shades of blue.
“He is obsessed with the color blue so I knew that had to be implemented in a big way,” Mandy says. “I didn’t want to go with primary blue all over, so I chose two shade to give the room some depth and added the pop of red from the swing arm wall sconce to balance everything out. I smile every time I walk in because I know how delighted he is by it. Every single element was thought through until I couldn’t see straight just so he would know that it was a room I designed specifically for him and nobody else.”
Mandy also took that singular approach to the little girl’s nursery, mixing globally eclectic accents and cheery coral to create a space she’ll love long after she’s out of the crib.
“The nursery is also so adorably charming,” Mandy says. “It’s designed to be a space that she can grow into and hopefully never tire of her elephant wallpaper until she’s at least 57 years old.”
Thinking forward is part of a designer’s M.O., which is why some of the wild choices were saved for spaces that aren’t part of the family’s every day. In the guest bedroom, an impressionistic wallpaper greets guests with a breath of fresh air, but won’t exhaust the homeowners.
“How can you not love it?” Mandy gushes. “It’s such a statement and everyone loves beautiful flowers. It’s perfect for visitors to be wowed during the time they stay, but the homeowners don’t see it on a daily basis so they’ll never tire of it.”
For the space that will get the most traction, Mandy went big. Vastly overhauling the master suite for maximum impact.
“The master suite is such a transformation from the original design, which had tired, tan walls and grey carpet,” Mandy says. “It’s now such a beautifully bright and relaxing space. I think the master bathroom went through the largest transformation of all the rooms. You’ll have to look at the before and after photos (Editor’s note: you can see them all in the gallery) to truly understand what I mean.”
While the major changes are impressive, it’s the details that will make the house liveable for many years. Mandy didn’t miss a chance to make the home work harder, down to ensuring the sweeping staircase was as functional as it was beautiful.
“When I designed the stair rail, I wanted it to be a very clean design so I went with very streamlined iron balusters and a white oak handrail,” Mandy explains. “I painted the posts white so it would still tie in with the architecture of the rest of the house. The client had no idea so when she saw it she couldn’t believe how pretty it was. She asked if it was possible to find a baby gate that matched the stair rail. The stair rail fabricator ended up building them. We had several meetings and a few trial run installations and modifications made to them before we got it right, but I love the way they turned out.”