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Home of the Week: Hollywood restoration with ocean view in Laguna Beach

Part of the former estate of writer, director and producer Edward H. Griffith that once was in tear-down condition gets a top-down revamp.

August 01, 2010|By Scott Marshutz
  • This historic oceanfront compound in Laguna Beach is listed at $13.9 million.
This historic oceanfront compound in Laguna Beach is listed at $13.9 million. (David Heath )

Since the early 1900s, Laguna Beach real estate has been a magnet for Hollywoodtypes, including writer, director and producer Edward H. Griffith, who made more than 50 films from 1917 to 1946.

A section of his old estate is on the market in the community of Three Arch Bay.

After years of neglect, the main house and a guesthouse known as the Screenwriter's Cottage, where Griffith and his colleagues once collaborated, was in tear-down condition when Marhnelle and David Hibbard bought the property 15 years ago. "The wood was literally turning into pulp," Marhnelle Hibbard said. "And it was completely overgrown."

Without changing the footprint, they launched a top-down remodel that wasn't completed until last year.

They peeled back the old materials, exposing sections of the brick-framed structure, and reinforced the house with steel. Interior walls were finished with a natural plaster.

The wood beams in the living-room ceiling were installed 16 inches apart (the standard is 24 inches) to help support the expansive master suite and deck on the upper level.

A multi-step process was used to create a sandy-beach floor color on the main level. The concrete was sealed; a gray base color was added with a tan topcoat and then sealed with an acrylic. The floor color blends into the natural plaster on the walls, creating a minimalist effect with no baseboards. This pattern continues on the first floor, where the guest suites are.

The focal point of the kitchen is a honed black granite island with generous food prep areas, a hammered-stainless-steel sink and bar seating. Acrylic-coated distressed countertops contrast with the exposed red brick and stainless-steel appliances.

The original circular wood stairway leads to the master suite, which includes an unobstructed ocean view from the bedroom and the deck. The white-oak original floor was washed with an ocean-gray-blue stain to make it appear as though the deck flows into the ocean.

Narrow concrete stairs lead down to a courtyard, where a small alcove was remodeled into an outdoor kitchenette with a butcher-block countertop, a gas cooktop, two refrigerators, a Dutch door and a bay window.

Because the architecture lent itself more to California Mission, the old composition roof tiles were replaced with Spanish clay tiles. Mexican pavers cover the patio surface.

Another flight of steps leads down to the cottage's main entrance and a balcony that overlooks Picture Bay.

Built into the cliff, the tri-level cottage has a nautical theme, with Catalina Island in full view.

A stained-wood table in the living area is cantilevered around a steel support beam, which is enclosed in a copper sleeve.

The Douglas-fir floor, knotty-pine walls and kitchen cabinets are all original. New bay and double-hung windows were added, and the cottage's exterior was finished in a smooth but undulating stucco technique, which reflects a 1930s style.

One wall was removed to open up the kitchen, which features a muted Ann Sacks tile on the countertop. A stairway leads down to a guest suite with an adobe-style fireplace.

To submit a candidate for Home of the Week, send high-resolution photos on a CD, caption information, photographer's name and a description of the house to Lauren Beale, Business, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Questions may be sent to homeoftheweek@ latimes.com.

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