Estate of the Arts

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Architect Michael Lee creates an astounding show place for art and ocean views in a home that was once two three-story apartments.

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Project Info

Architect: Michael Lee, Michael Lee Architects, Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Contractor: Jeff Strnad, Beach House Design & Development, Manhattan Beach


  • Convert two three-story apartments into one single-family home

  • Provide display spaces for the client’s large art collection

  • Protect the art from the now abundant sunlight that fills the home


When architect Michael Lee at his eponymous firm in Manhattan Beach, Calif., was tasked with turning two three-level apartments into one single-family home, he knew there would be a lot more involved than just knocking down a few walls. Add to that the clients were a pair of artists wanting plenty of display areas for their creations, and it was evident this would not be a standard demo/design-build job.

The home’s ocean views meant a vast expanse of glass, however a series of motorized roller shades that strongly filtered UV rays were installed to protect the large amount of artwork. The home’s materials palette — both interior and exterior — reflected the client’s passion for color and texture.

Judges’ comments

There’s an “open, airy … wonderful feeling throughout the home.”

Products Used

Bath fittings/fixtures: Hansgrohe

Brick/masonry: concrete (cast in place)

Countertops: Caesarstone

Flooring: bamboo

Garage doors: lauan

Roofing: hot-mop

Siding: Cor-Ten steel