A New Build in Manhattan Beach with a Modern Look & Classic Appeal

Home Tours

Love what you see? Take a peek at the talent behind the story… Interior Design: HMS Interiors · Photography: Lauren Pressey Photography · Construction: RJ Smith Construction

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What is Hillary Stamm’s secret to a successful home design? She credits her organization, creative spirit, and love for film, art, and fashion. In today’s home tour, she graciously draws back the curtain to give us a peek inside this gorgeous modern beach house and a deeper look into her world of design. Photographer Lauren Pressey beautifully captured how this new build came together.

You’re a published author with 10 years of experience in the movie business. What a résumé! Please tell us how/why you transitioned from your previous career path to where you are today.

After a long road to become a mother, I finally had three beautiful kids in 22 months and decided to step away from writing and film to honor that long journey. But I am a working girl, and once they were out of diapers I was ready to work again. I started to craft ideas to build my house, a lifelong dream fulfilled. I interviewed many designers and then went to my builder RJ Smith, and said “What If I design this house?” He was nothing but supportive. I immersed myself in the project and the company took off from there. I always have wanted to own and build my own business and this was the perfect opportunity.

Are there any skills from your previous work that you’ve carried forward into the world of interior design?

Most definitely. Much of what I learned in the movie business directly lends itself to working in design. (The first being, both are industries that appear very glam on the exterior and yet are built on old-fashioned hard work and grit!) But more so, the producorial aspects of managing a team, a budget, a multitude of various pieces that bring a film together from the story inception to the screen- there are many similarities from that to a ground-up build. Working in film is making 1000 little decisions every day that leads to a bigger picture, and design is no different. I have found the extreme organization and creative spirit that both require has been an asset in my business.

You’ve shared that you pull inspiration from your extensive travel. Can you share a little more about that?

I grew up traveling with my parents to many corners of the world. It has always sparked my love for design, film, art, and fashion. Curating pieces from travel, realizing everything old is new again, visualizing different spaces in different places constantly opens my eyes to more delicious design ideas. Travel is the best form of design eye candy I know. I always come back to work re-energized and excited to create interesting and uniquely designed spaces.

We’re curious to know what part of interior design keeps you coming back for more?

The work and the clients. I love working with interesting and intelligent minds, and that includes the builders, architects, artisans, subcontractors, and clients to create beautiful spaces. I love how tangible our end product can be. It is so fulfilling to try to bring a space together and continually find the perfect paint color coupled with a terrifically textured drape and see a happy client.

Your clientele consists of homeowners and custom home builders. What does the design process look like when working with a builder?

I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the most talented builders in Southern California. When the builders are attuned to the design process, and see the beauty and creativity that comes with their job, it makes every design opportunity easier, more collaborative and fulfilling for me. It is all about open communication with the builders and staying ahead on everything. I always try to be ahead of the game on everything I do with design so as to mitigate hiccups on the project. The good builders are also great at staying on top of their projects and pushing them forward, which is how I love to operate.

Is there any advice you’d like to share with designers who are just starting out?

Work hard and absorb everything. No opportunity is beneath you when you are starting out, seize it and shine. My biggest secret weapon? I never worry about what the person next to me is doing. I learned this a long time ago in the movie business. All you have to do is best the best you, the rest is gravy.

If you were to describe your aesthetic in three words what would they be?

Classic. Coastal. New.

Let’s talk about this gorgeous home tour! What was your jumping-off point, where did you begin?

I was very fortunate to be able to work with a super creative builder on this project that made it all the more fun and end product stunning. When we set out to build it we created inspiration boards and knew we wanted a fresh take on the modern beach house. That was really the jumping-off point. Many many design boards and project meetings from there, and it slowly but surely all came together.

The open shelving in this kitchen creates lots of opportunity to show off the classic white subway tiles. Are there any other classic moments in this home that we can add to our dream home wish list?

I love what we did with the master bedroom as well as the kitchen nook. The master bedroom flows seamlessly into the master bath with a custom door and glam bathroom with all the bells and whistles. We created space for a gorgeous sitting area in the master with oversized end tables and an amazing textured mantel and fireplace. It is dreamy.

The nook in the kitchen is a huge and amazing space. The design came through with loads of custom pillows and a gorgeous table. I will always be a fan of the nook, it is where many of the family memories are made.

There are some beautiful blue moments in this home, from the robin’s egg dresser nestled in the corner to the bold vertical bathroom tiles, but the blue kitchen may be the most striking of all. What led to this color choice?

We wanted to create a kitchen that was stunning, textured, and did not just feel like a white coastal kitchen. We tested many colors before we landed on the wonderful elixir of taupe, white, and that fantastic Downpipe by Farrow and Ball.

It looks like you’ve used every bit of this space thoughtfully. Was there a particular ‘aha’ moment where the pieces of the puzzle just fit together?

The paint on the fireplace- we went back and forth on many colors, and once we nailed that space the whole top floor just felt seamless. From the gorgeous textured brick to Rj’s insane ceiling beam work, to our cozy nook. It felt like my vision realized all at once.

In the past year, we’ve all had the opportunity to experience our homes like never before. What does a well-lived home mean to you?

Your home should reflect your style, your essence. I love to walk into a home and have it feel like I know its inhabitants just by sitting down for a cup of coffee. Don’t be afraid to make it your home. It should the best pieces of you.

Love what you see? Take a peek at the talent behind the story… Interior Design: HMS Interiors · Photography: Lauren Pressey Photography · Construction: RJ Smith Construction

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