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Surfer's Paradise

Brian Murphy Tailors a Trailer for the Beach

September 15, 1996|Pilar Viladas

Brian Murphy of BAM Construction/Design in Santa Monica has been known to create light fixtures out of orange plastic drafting triangles and once made a bathtub of glass. His taste for the offbeat governs his choice of residence, too. He has lived everywhere, from funky lofts to whimsical beach shacks. So after the 1994 Northridge quake damaged his house, it wasn't surprising to find the designer temporarily installed in one of the trailer parks that dot Pacific Coast Highway between Santa Monica and Malibu. As one might imagine, these are no ordinary trailer parks; their once-mobile homes are carefully landscaped and often command the kind of ocean views that come with a much higher price tag.

That proximity to the Pacific is what lured Murphy--an avid surfer and swimmer--to this Streamline Moderne-influenced "room with a view," as he calls it, although the Pacific Palisades trailer actually consists of two rooms. His strategy in organizing these tight quarters was to "think in a small scale, and not try to break up the space." He kept to a mostly white palette, playing up the trailer's metallic finishes. He stored large items, such as his surfboards and bicycle, by turning them into decorative sculpture, and once again transformed the prosaic into the poetic by joining hardware-store metal clamp lights to fashion an amusing chandelier. "I tried to make it come alive," Murphy says, adding that, even for a designer, "living in one of these things is a real education."

* Text adapted and photographs excerpted from "California Beach Houses," by Pilar Viladas, with photographs by Mark Darley, published by Chronicla Books.

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