Just buy the house next door if you need more space for your basketball court

Cheryl DeSisto spent her childhood in New Jersey playing in her backyard until dark. But it was something her three children rarely did at their home in Manhattan Beach, California. To address this, Ms DeSisto took an unusual step: In 2018, she bought the house next door for about $ 3.2 million, demolished it, and has about 5,000 square feet in an area of. outdoor games for his children.

“When we moved in here, I couldn’t stop imagining this yard next door for my kids to play,” said Ms. DeSisto, 50.

She built over a yard. Completed last year, the space now includes a multi-purpose sports court, swimming pool, hut and a sand area for volleyball. Ms DeSisto said she spent around $ 1 million on the project, working with Los Angeles architect Anthony Laney.

Nico DeSisto, 15, plays basketball on the sports field.

(Michal Czerwonka for the Wall Street Journal)

“The entire property was intended to be an outdoor destination,” Mr. Laney said. “At least in my world, you don’t see this every day.”

Ms. DeSisto moved to California from New Jersey in the late 1990s to earn her doctorate. in clinical psychology, and now describes herself as “a full-time mom.” In 2007, she and her then husband, who owned a business in the food industry, purchased the house she currently lives in for around $ 3.7 million. The home overlooks the Pacific Ocean and the interior is spacious, but the property’s limited outdoor space doesn’t get much sun, she said.

With limited ability to play outside, her children, Nico, 15, Enzo, 13, and Gianna, 11, drove their toy cars inside the house, she recalls. “I wanted them to be safe and have a place to have fun,” she said.

Ms. DeSisto said she had always been friendly with the owner of the house next door. When the neighbor passed away and his son inherited the property, he contacted Ms. DeSisto and sold it to her off-market.

Mr Laney said he spent several months consulting Ms DeSisto and the builders, Matt Armato and Jeremy Henson of California-based Titan & Co., before coming up with a design for the space. A cabin and a terrace have been placed towards the rear of the property. An infinity pool overlooks the sports field, which adjoins the front of the house. On the court there is a basketball hoop, football nets and a retractable tennis net. In front of the sports field is a sandy area where the family plays volleyball. “I think the magic is that you could be higher up, at cabin level, looking over the athletic field and taking in the views,” Mr. Laney said.

According to interior designer Kate Lester, who also worked on the project, Ms. DeSisto spent around $ 100,000 on furniture for the cabin and outdoor space.

Now that they have more outdoor space, DeSisto said, “The kids put their phones down, they’re not playing video games, they’re outside with their friends.” She said she was very lucky to have an outdoor space for her children during the first months of the pandemic. “They all wanted to zoom online from there,” she said.

For years, outdoor space has grown in importance among homeowners, and the pandemic has accelerated that trend, said Douglas VanderHorn, founder of Connecticut-based VanderHorn Architects, who has worked on several projects similar to that of Mrs. DeSisto.

Cheryl DeSisto’s house in Manhattan Beach.

(Michal Czerwonka for the Wall Street Journal)

At the end of 2020, Mr Laney said he had completed a project of around two years for a client that combined two adjacent lots into one. The client built a house at the front of the field and at the back he built a basketball court, a volleyball court and a football field.

Timothy Blonkvist, founder of Texan architecture firm Overland Partners, said he is currently working with a client from Dallas who has purchased the neighboring property, where they plan to build an entertainment pavilion with a guest suite and a court of tennis.

“How do you entertain yourself in a more controlled environment in your own home with equipment that was, you know, considered primarily for large estates or clubs and organizations? Mr Blonkvist said. “You buy the house next door.”

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