Three units on four lots of land on the beach-all designated for family. That is what Ed Arnold, owner and president of Arnold & Associates, will have once he finalizes his new family compound in Long Beach’s Peninsula area. The retired Los Angeles fire department veteran will have his dream house for him and his children as he enjoys his twilight years right on the beach. Surf’s up.

Actually, the surf is mild in this part of California, and Arnold, who was a surfer in the past says locals go down to Huntington Beach, Calif. He does say though that sharks swim in these waters. But not even Jaws can deter his dream.

“We figured if I was ever going to do it that this would be the last house I ever build,” says says Ed Arnold. “It’s like building a boat, you get into it. It’s my labor of love. A lot of work to do to make it into a custom home.”

It has been a lot of the work for Arnold, who for several years now has owned several apartment units, as well as A&W restaurant chains.

“When I met the Arnolds, they had been through two architects and two years of disappointments,” says Ed Gulian, owner of Gulian Design Inc., also of Long Beach. “Joe Railey (the contractor who oversaw the project, of JR Construction) was brought in to try and salvage the design they paid handsomely for but were not happy with. Joe asked me to come over and look at the plans and see if I could massage around the design to make it work for the Arnolds and their wish list.

“After 10 minutes with the Arnolds, I could tell that they were not going to be happy with what they had on paper and they needed to get this back on track so they could feel excited about their dream home again,” Gulian continues. “Originally, the concept (before Joe and myself), was to build two large, side by side duplexes that used up every square inch of space on four lots in prime Peninsula bay-front real estate. After listening to their wants and needs ... and looking at piles of photos, I designed a home that incorporated all the views that the lot had to offer.”

The Arnold residence, the main duplex with 7,285 square feet, is designed for entertaining and easy living with indoor/outdoor rooms on all floors, says Gulian. The first floor opens to a large courtyard facing the Bay to provide easy flow in and out of a media/bar entertainment room. The second level has a kitchen and family room with folding doors that spill into the wrap-around covered lanai facing the water. And on the third floor is the master suite with two separate balconies. One faces the bay; the other looks out toward the Pacific Ocean and downtown Long Beach. The other two bedrooms are on the backside and all have Pacific Ocean views.

“On the other half of the lot, we only used the rear half of that so the home would not add to the density of the Peninsula and which left a large Bay-side courtyard with landscaping and seating areas that both homes open up into,” says Gulian. “This modest size home is designed on a typical 30 foot by 80 foot Long Beach Peninsula lot. The home still maintains all the comforts and spacious feel that the main house has. Both homes are set with the Mediterranean style with a West Palm Beach feel. This was planned out from information that the Arnolds had given me to work with and the photos of Florida style architecture they had compiled over the years.”


As a new construction project, around 35,000 square feet of drywall was used, says the project’s main contractor Joe Railey, who is owner of JR Construction in Huntington Beach. The final decoration of the gypsum wallboard was of paramount importance and a traditional finish just would not do.

Dan Kirkland, president of Vella Venetian Plaster Systems, was introduced to the Arnolds by the president of a fellow manufacturing firm. Eventually, Kirkland became color consultant and then oversaw production of the plaster application process.

“They [the Arnolds] were building on a Mediterranean design but didn’t want textured finishes,” says Kirkland. “It was a much more refined look they were after; smooth walls and ceilings without a high sheen. The plaster was a semi-matted finish, similar to suede.”

Kirkland trained applicators on site to ensure the project’s success, even installing some of the product himself. Furthermore, he also engineered a spray application second coat for increased production efficiency.

“I trained the painting contractor in applying the basecoat, which was sprayed on using a mid-sized texture rig,” says Kirkland. “Four men were used to mask off, prepare the necessary substrates and complete the basecoat; one spray man, one to feed material to the rig and two men to back roll as the texture was being applied. Half-inch paint rollers were used to flatten out the splattered texture being sprayed over an unprimed Level 3 drywall. The process was completed in a day and a half.” For the final topcoat and waxing process, Kirkland brought in a four man crew of trained applicators.

“This is the easiest product to apply because you can use a trowel, a paint roller, or a texture or airless spray rig and it can be applied on a Level 3 drywall surface saving huge amounts of time and money,” says Daniel L. Schiefelbein, general manager of Specialized Building Products LLC, a representative of Vella.

The contractor purchased all materials through Sherwin Williams in Huntington Beach, Calif. The contractor’s used Vella (authentic lime based plaster), Liscio (synthetic finish) along with various combinations of waxes and metallic colorants.

Approximately 120 3.5 gallon buckets and 20 gallons of wax were used throughout the whole project, including the garage. Vella Premium Venetian Plaster, Vella Clear and Walnut Wax products, as well as the company’s Antique Bronze Metallic, were used for some of the bathroom’s applications.


Kirkland says green benefits of the project include extremely low to nil VOCs. The Vella products wash out easily with water. The products are colored through Vella’s paint dealers with organic and inorganic tints. The waxes are produced with low odor as well.

“We used all natural stone and low maintenance materials,” adds Gulian. “This has a style that will last the test of time.”

JR Construction’s Railey says the great benefit of using the Vella line was cost, as it’s less expensive than authentic plaster. He says touch-up and maintenance of the product is a lot easier and it goes on very easy.

“Working with the Arnolds was probably one of the biggest joys of the project,” says Gulian. “The contractor [Joe Railey] has a great eye for scale and style, so if he had a question about a certain application, he would mock something up and call me out to the site to make sure that we were all on the same page. Great collaboration and team.” W&C

Sidebar: Benefits of using this plaster system

  • High end finishes with durable coating
  • No sanding
  • No priming
  • Less prep work
  • Can spray first and second coats
  • Two base materials, three wax sealer colors, nine metallic powders for luminescent finishes, tinted in all retail locations for unlimited color options and color consistency