A Manhattan Beach Home Is Redesigned Twice by the Same Designer but for Different Clients 

A Manhattan Beach Home Is Redesigned Twice by the Same Designer but for Different Clients 

When it comes to interior design, there’s always room for improvement. Wendy Word takes that old joke to a new level.

Ms. Word has done three projects in the past few years that involved redesigning the exact same house—but for different owners.

The latest was last year, when Grant and Jessica Schachter purchased a five-bedroom, five-bathroom, 3,387-square-foot house in July 2020 for $4.25 million that had been designed by Ms. Word just two years prior. The couple was captivated not only by its coveted location in Manhattan Beach, Calif., but also by the extensive renovation.

The result? What was a $1.5 million renovation job in 2019 morphed into another around $400,000 in design work for Ms. Word. The approximate costs of the redesigns include the construction elements.

Homeowners Jessica and Grant Schachter stand next to designers Megan Acuna and Wendy Word of Wendy Word Design.


Michal Czerwonka for The Wall Street Journal

“I knew the space inside and out. I just had to transform it to create a different experience,” says Ms. Word, founder of Los Angeles-based Wendy Word Design.

The main change was to adapt the house to the Schachters’ way of life. The previous owners had one teenage son and two cats. They’d lived there pre-Covid, so working from home wasn’t as much of an issue. Ms. Word had turned open spaces into compartmentalized and specialized areas for each member of the family.

Since Covid meant Mr. Schachter, 37, a private-equity executive, and Ms. Schachter, 34, a psychologist, were working from home a lot more, they wanted to turn the rooms back into flexible home and work spaces. When they bought the house, Ms. Schachter was pregnant, so they were also looking for something that could accommodate a baby, who didn’t need the same kind of separation as a teenager.

Ms. Word’s redesign turned the former owner’s teen hangout room, originally a dining room, back into a dining room. That’s where the Schachters host extended family holiday meals and have Covid-era date night dinners. When the pocket doors are open, the dining room becomes an extension of the adjacent seating area just off the main entry—a good place to have pre-dinner drinks.

The kitchen became more open and casual with the addition of a banquette in place of a formal dining area. Ms. Word included a small office space between the banquette and the kitchen island for Ms. Schachter, who juggles her work as a psychologist while taking care of the couple’s 1 12-year-old son.

In the media room, where Ms. Word had put in built-in bookshelves with a library ladder and created a custom beverage bar for her former clients, she added a big sectional sofa for the Schachters, turning it into more of a family hangout space.  

Much of the change was effected through new furniture, which Ms. Word found easier to design and have built herself rather than source from companies due to pandemic-related supply shortages. In all, she created the bed in the main bedroom, numerous chaises, a sectional sofa, the dining room table and the kitchen banquette.


Which do you prefer: an open concept or compartmentalized spaces? Let us know below.

Mr. Schachter grew up in Beverly Hills, in a neighborhood he says didn’t have a tight community feel but where he made lifelong friends. Ms. Schachter grew up in the Chicago suburbs, where she remembers big neighborhood Fourth of July parties and lots of friends coming in and out. Both wanted to create an environment for their son that was more community-oriented, like Ms. Schachter’s experience. “That was really important to us,” says Ms. Schachter.

Manhattan Beach fit the bill. The small city, with a population of around 35,000, is in the South Bay region of Los Angeles and is known for its volleyball and expensive homes: the median sales price in February 2022 was around $4 million, according to Redfin.

In January 2020, the couple stayed at a local hotel and spent days driving up and down the city’s streets to get a feel for the area. They noticed lots of kids on bikes and groups of adults having coffee. They saw their current house the day it hit the market and put in a bid four hours later, along with a letter explaining how they would grow their family there and honor the family-friendly feel of the community.

Grant and Jessica Schachter and their dog in the Manhattan Beach home.


Michal Czerwonka for The Wall Street Journal

The couple was captivated not only by the home’s coveted location in Manhattan Beach but also the extensive renovation of the traditional-style home.


Michal Czerwonka for The Wall Street Journal

Once their offer was accepted, the Schachters asked the sellers the name of their designer and called Ms. Word right away.

Here’s a rundown of Ms. Word’s first and second design renovations:

Dining Room/Teen Hangout

2019: Dining room to teen hangout room for renovation for $70,000.

Work included installing doors for privacy and to minimize sound, adding built-in cabinetry for games, crafts and technology and furnishing the room with a big sectional sofa, a plush rug and leather ottomans for a lounge feel.

2021: Teen hangout room back to dining room in 2021: $50,000.

Edited the cabinetry to make it suitable for wine storage, put in a large dining table and chairs, and painted the room a deep blue.


2019: Made a casual kitchen more formal by adding a dining area for $55,000

Work included putting in a dining table, settee and baker’s rack.

2021: Making the kitchen more casual again for $35,000

Installed a custom-designed banquette where the dining table had been and put in a small desk.

Media Room

2019: Created a formal library for $120,000.

Work included designing built-in cabinets and bookshelves with a library ladder and some open shelving for display and creating a custom beverage bar. Put in two sofas, vintage chairs, and rugs.  

2021: Made the library into a more casual media room for $65,000.

Work included building a sectional sofa and buying caned chairs and pillows and throws.

Main Bedroom

2019: Furnished for $80,000 with an upholstered bed, nightstands, a rare inlay tall chest, a mother of pearl mirror and original artwork by Fran O’Neill.

2021: Furnished the room with more clean and modern shapes for $70,000.

Living Room

2019: Furnished for $75,000 with four chairs and a round table.

2021: Furnished for $55,000 with different pieces. 

Write to Nancy Keates at [email protected]

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