Laguna Beach, California

Site size: 19,042 square feet

Project size: 7,500 square feet

Program: When the clients, Thom and Sarah McElroy, purchased a half-acre wedge-shaped lot overlooking the Pacific Ocean in coastal California, they asked Ehrlich Architects to design a contemporary house for indoor-outdoor living. The clients, who swim or surf daily, wanted panoramic views of the water, sustainable materials requiring little maintenance in the salty air, and a design that adhered to a strict 11-foot height limit set to preserve views throughout the gated community.

Solution: The house, a series of rectangular volumes united by a flat roof, is organized around a small courtyard facing northeast and oriented toward a larger terrace and swimming pool to the southwest. Limestone, marble, and wood walls enclose the interior spaces, where large expanses of glass afford generous views of and access to the outdoors.

To maximize the views, the architects elevated the main living spaces above grade and placed the garage, gym, and mechanical spaces below. An entrance from the street is defined by a 50-foot-long Afromosia wood wall. The owners also can enter the house from the garage at the rear via a stainless steel and oak stair.

Construction: The wood structure, with steel moment frames, is covered by a modified bitumen roof membrane.

Sustainability: The house is designed to reduce artificial heating and cooling: a south-facing overhang shades the building from the sun, large glazed openings allow natural ventilation, and stone floors absorb heat. Both the roof and outdoor decks direct stormwater to permeable plant beds.

Ehrlich Architects
10865 Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232
P 310.838.9700
F 310.838.9737


Thom and Sarah McElroy

Ehrlich Architects
10865 Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232
P 310.838.9700
F 310.838.9737

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Project Principals: Steven Ehrlich, FAIA; Takashi Yanai, AIA.
Project Team: Brendan Canning, AIA; Ryan Lobello; Jackie Park.

Architect of record:
Ehrlich Architects

Interior designer: Ehrlich Architects

Interior designer (furnishing): Sarah McElroy

C.W. Howe Partners; Carl Howe, Principal

Toal Engineering, Inc.; Caleb Rios, P.E.

LA Studio; Larry Steinle, ASLA

E2 Lighting; Erin Erdman, Principal

SURVEYOR: RdM Surveying Inc.; Ron Miedema, Owner
SOILS ENGINEER: Geofirm; Kevin Trigg

General contractor:
Buwalda Construction; Vern Buwalda, President

Roger Davies, Miranda Brackett



Structural system
Wood framing with concrete & steel moment frames

Exterior cladding
Split face Limestone from Turkey
Crema Classico Marble; brushed and honed finish

Metal Panels:
Rheinzink Metal Fascia


Other cladding unique to this project:
Integral - color steel troweled stucco in white

Built-up roofing:
Modified Bitumen

Cabana Overhang:
Customized Ohmbrella/California Sunscreen systems with automated louvers.

Metal frame:
Tr' Architectural Windows and Doors from Culver City, all custom.

Cardinal 366 Low E insulated units

Custom - Stainless Steel and Glass, pivot movement, polished chrome and etched glass, 850 lbs by Grain/Spectrum Oak Products

Sliding doors:
Tr' Architectural Windows and Doors from Culver City

Upswinging doors, other:
Shower door: Star-fire glass

All door handles in home are made by Designer Doorware from Australia, purchased at Specialty Hardware EXCEPT:
Custom entry door handle in polished chrome by Grain/Spectrum Oak Products
Shower door handle: By Linea, polished chrome

Interior finishes
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork:
Kitchen , Dining and Guest Bathroom area:
Poliform Custom Cabinetry in Eco Canaletto walnut - Varenna Collection
Island Base: Poliform - Eco canaletto walnut veneer
2 Refrigerators, 1 freezer: Poliform - Eco Canaletto Walnut fronts
Kitchen and Media Room:
Poliform Cabinets - PR16 Glossy Extra light Bianco Glass

Paints and stains:
Paint color: Whisper by Dunn Edwards.

Wall coverings:
Powder Room:
Poliform, Eco Canaletto Walnut veneer, formed to barrel shape to mimic being in a "tube" of a wave
Split face Limestone from Turkey
Interior Outside Courtyard
Wall covering: Intergral-color steel troweled stucco in white
Master Bathroom:
Calcutta Marble walls and counters

Floor and wall tile:
Entry Steps, Koi Pond Step Pads, Pool Coping, Living Areas, Kitchen & Guest Bathroom:
Crema Classico marble from Turkey, brushed and honed finish
AKDO - Arctic White Frosted 1" x 6" stacked

Master and Guest Bedrooms:
Bleached White Oak
Pool interior:
White glass 1" x 1" tile

Living Area:
Sofa: Roche Bobois sectional in the "script" style - customized without stitching in seat and back rests
Chairs: Vintage Milo Baughman; bought from Xcape at the Palm Springs Modernism Week show. Re-covered by Sarah McElroy in S. Harris fabric using the Swoozie pattern
The stump stools: Resin with silver leaf from Cantoni
Media Room:
Ligne Roset: "Togo" sectional, 3 sizes (loveseat, sofa, and corner) in the Alcantara Lime fabric
Faux Stone Pillows / Floor Pillow seats - Viva Terra
Dining Area:
Ligne Roset: "Alster" by Emmanuel Dietrich in the Alcantara Lime Green fabric (ultra-suede)
Barstools: Roche Bobois - Ublo Collection
Pool Court, Courtyard and Cabana:
Gandia Blasco Outdoor Furniture in the Na Xemena collection, purchased from DIVA Group LA

Living Area:
Table: Purchased at Cantoni - the "Sir" custom cocktail table
Ligne Roset: Walnut / Glass white lacquer "stem" console by Eric Jordan
Side Table 1: Purchased at Cantoni - the "Sir" side table
Side Table 2:Viva Terra natural wood branch
Dining Area:
Table - Ligne Roset: "Craft" by Delo Lindo
Media Room:
Side Table: Pangea Home - bought on Gilt
Gandia Blasco - Na Xemena collection purchased from DIVA Group LA
Guest Bedroom:
Table: Lumeo Collection by Ligne Roset by Peter Maly

Living Area:
Green Pillow made from Burger Quality Upholstery, Inc. from Kravet fabric using the Versailles pattern
Pewter and white swirl pillows from Burger Quality Upholstery, Inc. from Kravet fabric using the Sublime style: Pewter pattern
Sophia Cashmere - Cashmere throw in Lime
Custom Rug: Italy - Vintage Patchwork rug - Bright Green
Media Room:
Rug - Ligne Roset: Custom Size 9' x 9', Caviale Style, color Grege
Master Bedroom:
Bedding by Ann Gish - Silk washable coverlets in the color "Jade"
Drapes: Sunbrella Fabric in the "Oyster" color
Guest Bedroom:
Pillows: Down by "Between the Sheets"
Bedding: Silk Coverlet by Ligne Roset by Peter Maly
Rug: Ligne Roset "Rasta", custom, size 6' x 9' in the color "Blanc"

Interior ambient lighting:
Ceiling Lights - 2.5" square - MR16 - USA Illumination

Dining area:
Light Fixtures by Jordi Vilardell for Vibia. There are a total of 4 different fixtures to create a sculptural feel as if bubbles were on the ceiling
Guest Bedroom:
Light Fixture: Galaxy (Asteroid) Pendant 16" diameter from Ylighting
Powder Room:
Light Fixture: Echo Grande pendant by Tech Lighting (inner white case with a clear outside case)

Interior Outside Courtyard:
Sconces: Blown white glass by Louis Paulsen


Media Room:
Sink Fitting: Dornbracht in the "Mem" style from B&C Hardware
Beer Tap: Marvel Kegerator
Fixtures: Dornbracht - "Mem" style
Guest Bathroom:
Sink Fitting: Dornbracht - "Mem" style
Showerhead: Raindance S120 Air 3-jet head
Powder Room:
Sink Fixtures: Dornbracht - "Mem" collection