Manhattan Beach's Dacha can give your home an earthy California vibe

A home goods and decor shop located near the ocean doesn't have to involve heavy doses of aqua tones, coral and shabby chic.

At Dacha, a boutique that opened last fall in downtown Manhattan Beach, interior designer Lauren Alexander creates other ways to connect to the local environment.

"It's really a California sensibility," Alexander said of her aesthetic point of view seen in her approximately 1,000 square-foot showroom that occupies the ground floor of an older two-story Mediterranean Revival commercial building in the pedestrian-friendly business district. Instead of overtly marine-themed items, she relies on "earthy, natural elements to tie everything together." Alexander favors neutral tones with warm woods, metallic accents and plenty of ceramics at both Dacha and clients' homes.

About half of the inventory resting on the hexagonal terra cotta tile floor and custom wood shelving is vintage, ranging from a teal-colored steering wheel found on a circa-1940 Chinese shipwrecked fishing boat, to Heywood Wakefield-manufactured trolley seats that date from the 1920s. Other furnishings, throw pillows, blankets, new and vintage fine art and decorative objects come from as near as a few miles away and as far as from Argentina, India and Africa. (The business name is a Russian term for a second home or retreat.)

"I try to always be on the lookout for things I fall in love with" and wares from under-the-radar makers and artisans. Alexander is particularly fond of ceramic artists she's found who work in L.A., Bolinas and in the Central Valley, for instance. Additional treats for the home and senses include Poco Dolce chocolates, Handmade La Conner apothecary products, elegant Cire Trudon candles from France, and Brooklyn-based Bellocq Tea Atelier's candles in brass canisters with scents inspired by the company's signature beverages

Because Alexander grew up pitching in at her mother's Marin County gift and flower shop, she's a big believer in "having green, living things" around. She continues to do custom floral arrangement work and sells hanging and potted plants. After graduating from UCLA, Alexander moved to New York where she eventually managed Bergdorf Goodman's home department. She further developed her decor expertise as retail director for Kelly Wearstler's flagship boutique on Melrose.

As for why she chose this location, her father's family is from the area, "so I always had a connection to Manhattan Beach," Alexander explained. And just because Dacha doesn't stick to the script of what some might expect from a coastal-adjacent store doesn't mean Alexander shuns references to the sea. Quite the opposite, in fact.

"I'm always collecting shells and driftwood at the beach," she said, and incorporates some of these finds into the vignettes. One wall features a cluster of mounted horseshoe crab shells she picked up on the shore along the Rockaways in New York, and stored at her mother-in-law's Brooklyn house for years before having them shipped west. She treasures the Jurassic-looking specimens as "a statement," and they are not for sale.


Where: 1219 Highland Ave., Manhattan Beach

Info: (310) 545-8990;


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A version of this article appeared in print on February 27, 2016, in the Features section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Dacha's earthy California vibe - SHOPPING" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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