When it comes to fantasizing about having a house on the beach, some dream of a breezy, shingled cottage with pleasantly mismatched furniture and a relaxed, bare-footed vibe. Others imagine a more clean-lined and modern affair that’s relaxed with natural materials and drenched in light that bounces off the ocean. For plush toy tycoon Harris Toibb, known for licensing and merchandising the 1984 Olympics mascot Sam the Eagle as well as the Smurfs, and wife Linda Toibb, their vision for a dream home along The Strand, in southern California’s Hermosa Beach, was an opulent villa inspired by their travels throughout Italy.
Records indicate the couple plunked down almost $4.5 million for the property back in 2004 but it was not until 2012 they completed construction on their SoCal beachfront homage to Italy. As much time, care and cash was put into the realization of their dreams, it was only a few years before the Toibbs, she now in her 70s and he in his early 80s, first tried to sell up, in 2016-17, with a price tag of $25 million. With no takers, the property was taken off the market and re-listed about two and a half years ago for almost $19 million; the price now stands at $16.5 million.
The 5,300-square-foot parcel is among the largest along The Strand. Still, like most homes along this coveted and sardine-tight stretch of sand, the almost 6,900-square-foot three-story house is bookended between similarly sized homes wedged onto even smaller lots. Inside, however, there’s plenty of room to spread out and comfortably accommodate at least a dozen people; there are six bedrooms and six bathrooms, plus four powder rooms, spread over three floors topped by a sun-baked roof terrace.
Marketing material describes the home as “Influenced by the original owner’s travels throughout Italy, no expense has been spared in creating this masterful trophy home. Every fine detail and amenity has been painstakingly planned; every aspect beautifully considered.” And indeed, the couple’s deep-pocketed penchant for bespoke Mediterranean flamboyance is immediately apparent in the foyer. Under foot is a hand-set mosaic tiled floor, overhead is an elaborately detailed gilt-trimmed ceiling. And curving up to the bedrooms and down to the beach-level leisure and recreation spaces, the sweeping marble staircase is embellished with a floridly curlicued custom wrought-iron railing.
Other embellishments that speak to the fine craftsmanship and Old-World Italian grandeur the couple was shooting for include hand-carved parquet floors, leaded-glass windows and in the living room, numerous fluted columns and a monumental carved marble fireplace. The couple also packed the place with a bevy of pampering conveniences the comfort-loving heart any buyer of a three-story home might desire. A suite of smart home technologies control climate systems, lighting and security, while an elevator effortlessly whisks people, groceries and laundry between floors.
Entered though a gated courtyard, the main floor’s generous entertaining spaces include an expansive living room with multiple seating areas, one of which opens to a stone balustraded beachfront arched loggia. There’s also a formal dining area, a lavishly appointed gourmet kitchen and guest accommodations.
Upstairs, a several ample en-suite guest bedrooms are joined by a sprawling main suite that marketing material aptly refers to as an “apartment.” Along with a morning/late night snack bar in the entry vestibule and a deluxe marble bathroom, there’s a garage-sized walk-in closet/dressing room and a private sitting room that opens to another arched and stone balustraded beachfront loggia.
On the lowest floor, a ballroom-sized lounge with a polished-wood bar, fireplace and 800-gallon built-in saltwater aquarium spills out to a huge terrace set a handful of steps below (and in full view) of the pedestrian path that runs along the beach. Also on this level are guest accommodations, a climate-controlled wine cellar, a gym emblazoned with cherry-red wall-to-wall carpeting, and a sumptuous, also-cherry-red eight-seat home theater.
One of the more dramatic features of the home is the thoroughly contemporary glass oculus that caps the top-floor stair landing; it slides open at the touch of a button for access to the roof terrace. In addition to a built-in grill/outdoor kitchen — there’s a second built-in grill area on the beach-level terrace — the bi-level space offers panoramic ocean and coastline views that stretch across the water as the sun dips below the horizon. No matter what one’s vision of the perfect beach house may be, it almost certainly includes some version of this dreamy view.