HOW DO YOU transform a warren of dark rooms into a light and airy house for an expanding family? That was the challenge facing Culver City-based architect Melinda Gray Payne when she began to remodel an oceanfront home on The Strand in Manhattan Beach. The house--actually a three-story building plus an apartment over the garage in back--had a matchless view, but it had been poorly planned and divided in two by its previous owners. Payne's task was to create a few spacious living areas and seven bedrooms for her client, a venture capitalist with three small children and live-in help. "I want to know I'm at the beach," the owner told her, "and I need to keep track of my family." So in her renovation, Payne grouped the rooms coherently--and allowed each to share the view.
Payne began by stripping the exterior of its fake Spanish trim and removing the tiled roof. That allowed her to raise the ceilings in the upper-story rooms without changing the restricted height of the building. Then she remodeled the facade, setting big oceanfront windows back behind the structural frame to shield them from direct sunlight. That formed deeply recessed balconies, which Payne enclosed with glass parapets to shelter them from coastal breezes.