The renovation of an original beach bungalow yields flair and confidence in this 1922 Redondo Beach Craftsman.
Written by Suzanna Cullen Hamilton
Photographed by Shane O’Donnell
Authenticity is often aspired but rarely achieved. For South Bay real estate agent Alison Clay-Duboff and her husband, Ken, the renovation of their 1922 Craftsman is as genuine and original as its owners.
Alison’s zest for life is mirrored in the Ferrari-red quartz island that anchors the kitchen, while Ken’s wry humor is cemented in the master bathroom’s glossy red plumbing pipe. Throughout their thoughtfully considered renovation, Alison and Ken relied on a shared past of being native Angelenos and inveterate international travelers as they crafted their home with both comfort and panache.
Although Alison and Ken own the Redondo Beach home, the paramount residents are their Bouvier des Flandres dogs, Argus and I.V. The “Boos” bound for the original front door with the same exuberance as their owners, and their bold physique matches the strong design aesthetic shared by Alison and Ken. The house is now a spectacular renovation, but the path to the rehabilitation was not as straightforward.
With children from previous marriages, Alison and Ken raised their blended family while living in a four-bedroom townhouse near the ocean. “As empty nesters, we had plenty of space and I didn’t see any reason to move,” says Ken. However, Alison’s verve won Ken over with the promise of “finally having a space that’s ours,” she says.
Alison and Ken toured the original-condition Craftsman, but it was already under contract. “Additionally, a builder told us that it was riddled with problems and we should run for the hills,” says Ken. No longer considering remodeling, they headed to Italy for a conference.
While abroad, Alison received a call that the contract had fallen through; however, she had to confirm the purchase within two weeks or it would put it on the open market. Alison was prepared for tough negotiations, but her energy and tenacity sealed the deal.
“From 6,000 miles away, I arranged for the townhouse to be painted and the floors refinished, and I flew back to list it,” Alison says. She immediately sold the townhouse and met the two-week condition clause.
The Craftsman had good bones with lots of natural light, but the quirky floorplan was changed to accommodate larger open living areas and additional space for the master suite. Installing new floors and using gallons of crisp, white paint on newly opened walls, the interior of the house soon felt clean and fresh. After quickly renovating one bathroom and bedroom, they moved into the house while the renovation continued.
They kept the original fireplace constructed from long red bricks, since it’s both a focal point and a room divider that breaks up the deep, shotgun-style house. “We updated the hearth with a solid slab to give it a cleaner edge, but the fireplace is a piece of history we wanted to preserve,” says Alison.
The living room is eclectic with inviting white linen upholstery framing a cowhide rug. A vintage French Bergere chair and antique side tables add patina to the room, while a large Buddha rests peacefully amidst Native American-inspired throw blankets.
Original French doors lead into the intimate dining room where crown and door moldings frame the space. Initially a pantry niche occupied one end of the dining room, but they closed it up to give the dining room clean lines and provide more space for the master bedroom.
A vivid, Venetian-style glass chandelier hangs over the large circular table surrounded by sleek, colorful Bellini chairs. “We entertain frequently, and a round table makes dinner parties engaging,” says Alison.
The kitchen is simple and powerful in both layout and materials. The red island countertop commands the room and creates a huge pop of color against the white walls and cabinets. Ken’s surfboards float on the kitchen wall–a reminder that the beach is only a few blocks away.
The master bedroom is a cocoon of simplicity. The raised beam ceiling creates a barn-like effect, but the all-white palette keeps it peaceful.
The master bathroom embodies the humor of this couple. Alison didn’t like the shower floor tiles, so she ripped them up and “let the dogs walk in wet cement so that their paw prints are always with us,” she says. When the contractor threw out an old sewer pipe, Ken installed it in the bathroom so that “it looks like an oversized glossy red stripper pole, but it’s our 21st-century nod to the original plumbing,” he adds.
People from the Westside rarely move to the beach, and beach people rarely move east. However, for these Beverly Hills natives, moving a few blocks east of the ocean into an original bungalow with their Boos has brought them home. Says Alison, “We truly love this house, and we’re finally home.”