This Manhattan Beach Home Embraces a "Trad is Rad" Aesthetic

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Who: Kate Lester
Where: Manhattan Beach, California
Style: Traditional with Modern Twists


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After living in their new home in a Manhattan Beach development for a year, a young family decided it was time to make the spec house their own. "They knew that this was going to be their forever home, and they really wanted to create something inviting, chic, and unique to their personalities and family structure," says designer Kate Lester of Kate Lester Interiors. "However, since it was built as a development, so many of the finishes were less than up to par and critical design details had been overlooked."


Given that the house was a new build, they wanted to keep as much of the original architecture as possible to avoid wasting materials and man power. So Lester helped the family embark on what she calls a facelift renovation. "We completely furnished the interiors but also replaced fireplaces, tile, lighting, hardware, mirrors, and wall treatments — and repainted the whole interior," she says.


The home was built in a traditional style and Lester brought in hipper elements that would reflect the young family. "I wanted to really rethink mainstream decor styles and come up with our own concept that we coined 'Trad is Rad,'" says Lester. "Taking the traditional elements that make a family home inviting and pivoting them in a fresh, creative, way."


That meant mixing traditional forms, such as roll-arm sofas, brass lanterns, and four-poster beds, with more modern pieces and relaxed textiles. In the living room, custom sofas are paired with a kid-friendly Amara rug, while the vases from Kate Lester Home add patina.

An Urban Electric pendant and a rug from Kate Lester Home add a bit of traditional style to the breakfast room.


In the dining room, Lester surrounded a custom table with Anglo-Egyptian–style chairs from Aesthetic Decor and illuminated the space with a brass chandelier by Lucent Light Shop.


The designer updated the existing kitchen with Palecek barstools upholstered in a Peter Dunham fabric and lantern-style pendants from Circa Lighting.


"It was imperative to them that we stayed true to the more traditional bones of the house," says Lester. "They are young, but love a classic look — which is very refreshing!"

The wine room features custom white oak storage units with chevron wine racks. "The main priority was to include decor elements that were comfortable, chic, and hip," says the designer.


A four-poster bed from Beautiful Bed Company is the centerpiece of the primary bedroom. An Anthropologie sofa and CB2 coffee table jut up against the bed to create a charming seating area.

"This house is so close to the water and has such amazing windows that overlook the Pacific Ocean that it would have been hard not to be inspired by the beautiful coastal landscape and palette," says Lester of the color scheme. "I anchored the design in a mostly cool color palette, but tried to use unexpected elements here and there — using deeper blues and greens with crisp whites, and an infusion of black to keep a consistent contrast throughout.

A classic floral painting, along with a stool and runner from Kate Lester Home, add warmth to the primary bathroom.

Wallpaper from Thomas Lavin makes a statement in a guest room and the vivid Brownstone Furniture nightstand adds a bright, colorful element.

Dark walls give another guest room a moody ambiance. A Serena & Lily bed is paired with West Elm nightstands and Rejuvenation sconces.

The kids' playroom was kept white and bright with storage from Pottery Barn Kids, a chandelier from Arteriors, and ottomans by Made Goods and Kate Lester Home.

"I wanted to keep the materials light-colored and relatively natural, nothing too glitzy or complicated," says Lester. "Most importantly I wanted everything to be durable, kid-friendly, and the highest quality so that the pieces we selected would enable them to enjoy each space, and last for years to come for this family home."

A Ferrick Mason wallpaper was used in the powder room and Lester devised a dresser-inspired vanity for the space.

"The fact that this home has its own unique type of decor style that is specific to this family and this family only, solidifies it even more as their family's forever home," says Lester.