Considering custom building a second home? The southern California coast is a great place to do it!
There’s something magical about vacation homes and their ability to connect extended family, build traditions, and nurture a sense of well-being and comfort that, along with the property itself, can be passed from generation to generation.
Summer homes occupy such a level of significance and mystique in our collective imagination that there are numerous books about them—Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters, Richard Russo’s That Old Cape Magic, J.Courtney Sullivan’s Maine, to name a few.
Second Homes Help Families Establish Ritual
The importance of family ritual and tradition is well-documented by social scientists. Rituals calm our anxieties and increase our confidence. And traditions shared among family shape our identity and bond us together, helping form a sense of continuity across generations and sometimes, geographies.
Family traditions establish our family values—which may be spending time together, supporting each other, making space for each other, playing outside—and offer us a sense of belonging. And in an era when everything seems virtual, there’s something extraordinarily comforting about place-based traditions.
If the entire family comes together at the beach house for winter holidays, cousins separated by distance are likely to become best playmates; adult siblings have time to reconnect and voice family stories. Everyone recalls or creates new shared memories. Kids get a chance to learn who their parents were before they were their parents. No matter what’s going on in the “real world,” that second home becomes a safe space of retreat, where we’re surrounded by people we love, who love us back; where we can relax and unplug and just be.
And the best thing about a second home is that it’s a tangible thing—it can be passed down to your children’s children, so that the family traditions you establish today can continue to enhance the mental health of family members for decades to come.
Second Homes Are Getting More Use Than Ever
The pandemic brought about a sea-change for U.S. workers. Now many more of us are working from wherever we want. All we need is a laptop and a wifi connection. Whereas a second home used to only be occupied on special occasions, now we can slip away to our “other” office with an ocean view as often as we like.
Build a Second Home With Your Extended Family
The amazing thing about custom building a second home with your extended family is that you get to design for your family’s unique needs. If multiple nuclear families are building together, perhaps you’ll want multiple master suites or space for more than one washer and dryer. If you need a bunk room with beds to fit all the cousins, we can tackle that in the design phase. Murphy beds are one of our favorite ways to have extra sleeping space on an as-needed basis and extra floor space otherwise. And if you’re caring for numerous kids at the beach, a mudroom is a great idea—a place to leave sand-covered gear, to avoid tracking all over the house.
Just because the entire family is getting together, no one wants to spend every moment together. Even if space is tight, you’ll want to include plenty of reading nooks and other personal niches that folks can duck into for some alone time.
You may want extra bathrooms, dedicated entertainment spaces, like a playroom, basement game room, home theater, or rooftop hot tub. You may want to really prioritize outdoor life at the beach, with an outdoor kitchen, living area, and shower.
A custom dining table might be just the thing to fit everyone at mealtimes, or you may want two kitchen tables—one for adults and one for kids, or maybe one for meals and one for ongoing board games and jigsaw puzzles. Whatever your family’s traditions, habits, and hobbies, custom-building means we can accommodate them.
Choose LA County’s South Bay for Your Second Home
Sold on the idea of building a vacation home for your extended family, but not sure where? We’re unabashedly biased, but we love the South Bay, where we do most of our work. In the past, we’ve written about the volleyball tournaments and surfing at Manhattan Beach, as well as the charming and walkable downtown and the beautiful antique pier. We’ve also admired the counter-culture charm of Hermosa Beach and the fishing and cafes of Redondo. If you really want to be away from the bustle and just be alone with your family, consider Palos Verdes. And if you need help deciding, we’re happy to talk it through.
Hawlie Ohe heads White Sands Interiors, and she and her husband are raising two boys along the South Bay coast. Hawlie brings the curiosity that fueled her first career, as a journalist, to her interior design approach: Who are you, who do want to be, and how can this space get you there? Great design makes you feel present and engaged, and Hawlie is here for it. Because she wants to help you be “here” (in this space, in this moment), too.