10 Contemporary Small Garden Design Ideas

This tightly narrow lot right on the beach nestles closely next to an early beach cottage. In acknowledgment of its neighbor, the new top roof pitch matches the one next door. In front is the beach walk, which is heavily trafficked with runners, skaters, cyclists, baby joggers, and a parade of colorful activities. To achieve privacy, the first floor and deck are elevated, with a low wall shielding part of the outdoor deck facing the beach.

It didn’t take long for Santa Monica to become a resort destination. Lured by the perfect temperatures and the coastline around Santa Monica Bay, by the early 1900s it was a hopping place with a pier and ballroom to add to the fun for vacationers and beachgoers. Los Angeles being only a short 16-mile trip inland, Santa Monica soon grew to be more than a resort, with prosperity from the aircraft industry, film studios, the music business, and now, tech businesses.

The resulting linear contemporary design made the most of the 25-foot width. The main floor soars two levels, with a railed gallery mid-level. The high ceilings keep the space light and airy despite the narrow width. The wall facing the beach is a glass roll-up door. With a building situated tightly on one side, the architect avoided clear windows in favor of frosted translucent panes that admit natural light. The opposite side provides a sizable section of windowless wall for the homeowners’ painting. Outdoor seating flows into the living area to allow for entertaining more than just a few.

The open floor plan layers the living area, with the most public functions closest to the outdoors. Nearest the patio is a fireplace to anchor the living space. The sofa and chairs are clustered on an area rug. While the color of the rug is close to that of the wood floors to merge the space and make it feel larger, the rug still subtly defines the seating area. The chairs are lightweight and easily moved to give flexibility for entertaining.

The dining area achieves a greater intimacy because the railed gallery lowers the ceiling. Shelves and a galley kitchen are to the rear of the space, tucked away behind a partial wall that is well sized for the artwork.

Because of the absence of walls to segment the small space, there is room for a grand piano without feeling crowded. The stairway leads up to the gallery and to the bedrooms on the third floor.

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