Creativity is a wellspring that frequently bubbles up where it is least expected. When Hillary Stamm was working in production at Sony Pictures—and wrote a how-to book about her experience there—little did she imagine the skills she honed in movie production would translate to residential interior design.

As it turned out, it was a natural fit. “At Sony, I was surrounded by beautiful places and beautiful people. I took that love of creative set design and aesthetics and applied it to my design,” says Stamm, the principal of HMS Interiors in Manhattan Beach, California. Working with homeowners along the West Coast, Stamm and her crew specialize in beach houses that use space wisely and pack a dreamy mix of high-end coastal design laced with a light beach vibe.

Stamm’s recent project in Hermosa Beach, perched over the Pacific Ocean, projects a breezy, stylish ease. “We wanted to build it as a beach house but with more of a modern sense, fresh-forward and different,” she says. The three-story house was a collaboration with the builder RJ Smith Construction in Manhattan Beach and architect David Watson, also in Manhattan Beach. 

The home’s kitchen and five bathrooms are especially polished departures from more traditional beach houses. Thanks to intriguing lighting, a variety of materials, custom cabinetry, and Stamm’s bold use of tiles, each of the rooms is a spectacular design statement but still highly functional.

“We set out to make the kitchen the anchor of the house,” Stamm says. The room’s eye-catching visage begins with an elegant mix of shapes and colors in bold black and gray hues. A slab of Calacatta marble—its creamy base offset by sweeping veins of gray and brown—tops the island. Throughout the space are black-framed custom windows and black cabinetry, custom built by VSI in Los Angeles and covered with Farrow & Ball paint. Strategic lighting beams from artisanal pendant fixtures from L’Aviva Home in New York City, casting a glow off the marble at twilight. The stovetop hood, over the Thermador range, is covered in eco-friendly Portola Roman Clay paint.

Another eye-catcher in the open kitchen space is the abundant use of Moroccan four-by-four black tile, installed by Westside Tile & Stone in Beverly Hills. The Moroccan tile establishes a presence through the home, an important design statement. As Stamm says, “We took chances with the tile.” 

A bar is located on the third floor, just off a great room. The arresting feature here is the panoramic view, ranging from Palos Verdes to Malibu, a quintessential Southern California ocean-rimmed skyline. It is a perfect gathering spot; the deck is set up with a firepit and grill and a window for passing drinks from kitchen to outdoor guests.

Stamm’s ambitious take on tiling converts what is sometimes a ho-hum feature to a standalone design feature in each of the home’s five bathrooms, providing a luxurious, artful touch. 

The primary bathroom, off the second-floor bedroom, is decadent but understated. A beautiful gray-toned fiberglass tub from Victoria & Albert rests under a black-framed window. Nearby is a full steam shower with cream-white tiles and, again, custom cabinetry.

A secondary bedroom, on the second floor, shows another arresting use of Moroccan tile. The green-blue shades and uneven texture “make it pop,” Stamm says.

A first-floor powder room offers a different mood, with soft-gray, custom-cut horizontal tiles, and a delicate circular mirror with scalloped edging from Serena & Lily. Walls shimmer quietly with a coating of Portola paint in Bardot, another of the company’s Roman Clay blends. 

Each of the bathrooms has its own personality. “Each is its own departure, has its own flavor,” Stamm says. As is the house itself: “It has soul to it the minute you walk in, which is what every good house should have.” 

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