Architect Richard Manion designed this Malibu, California, home as a weekend retreat with a more relaxing, organic feel than the owners' traditional New England style residence in Los Angeles. While focused on privacy at the street level, the home's architecture opens to reveal a bright, open space with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. The natural look of the home is enhanced with vintage midcentury furnishings and the clients' collection of tribal art.
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“We wanted the front of the house to be very solid and opaque from the street, for security and privacy,” explains Manion. All that can be seen are the simple geometric forms of the house and adjacent gate pier. The entrance is through a translucent glass gate set between the two structures, which creates the feeling of penetrating a solid volume of architecture to arrive at the destination. The home is designed so that the fortress-like feel “slowly dissolves as you progress through the house and reach the serenity and drama of the ocean.”
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To enhance the sense of privacy, landscape architect Mark Beall planted a tall hedge of ficus trees along one side of the property that abuts a public beach access path and installed a series of geometric planters by Atelier Vierkant with warm weather friendly succulent and aloe plants.
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The translucent glass entry gate leads down to a courtyard space that is defined by bold architecture on three sides and dense landscape on the other. A reflecting pool highlights the contrast between man-made elements and natural materials.
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The house is organized around a dramatic skylit atrium and monumental staircase. The stair is both sculptural and architectural with wood treads designed to appear as if they are floating on brushed stainless steel supports. The entry foyer design is otherwise simple with a teak wood chair from Axel Vervoordt and African wood sculpture. The home’s color palette takes its cues from the sky, ocean, and landscape.
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The interior plaster walls are painted the same shade as the creamy stucco on the exterior to create continuity in both color and material between the indoor and outdoor spaces. The hallway that leads from the entry to the split-level living area features a 1950’s sideboard by Jean Prouvé; Francois Halard’s “Casa Malaparte Exterior #2” photograph; and a carved ebony sculpture by Alexandre Noll.
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The lower-level living room has easy access to the outdoors through 10-foot tall glass doors with steel framing that allows the panels to lift and stack at each end. The room is filled with midcentury and custom furniture. The settee and opposing lounge chairs are by Pierre Jeanneret from the 1950's. A pair of Jean Prouvé’s Visitor Chairs sit opposite a custom sofa, and at center are two matching custom coffee tables by Fantini Mosaici with mother-of-pearl mosaic tops. Above the sofa hangs “Casa Malaparte Exterior #1” by Francois Halard.
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The home’s L-shaped floor plan wraps around the outdoor pool and spa, where the views look west to the Pacific Ocean and south to Point Dume. The pool was designed by David Tisherman.
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The family room is an ideal space for relaxation with a custom sectional sofa and a TV hung on an interior wall farthest from the windows to reduce glare. The bookshelf is by Charlotte Perriand.
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In the dining area, a custom Corian table is surrounded by Pierre Jeanneret’s Committee chairs. Behind the table is Le Corbusier's Grande Armoire-Cloison Type Marseille cabinet from 1940 and a blue glass mirror by Max Ingrand from 1947.
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The adjacent kitchen features two wood barstools from Punjab University designed by Pierre Jeanneret in 1965. On the opposite side of the island are two 1950’s woven French barstools.
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The powder room continues the theme of warm modernism and geometric shapes with a 1930's silver framed mirror and travertine walls.
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The master bedroom features a rich mix of custom and vintage furnishings and global accents. On one side of the room is a custom shagreen bed; custom bleached wire-brushed oak night tables; and Han Dyansty vases that were mounted as table lamps. Midcentury lounge chairs by Pierre Jeanneret create an intimate seating area on the opposite side of the room. Between the chairs is a sandblasted African stool that is used as a table and copper alloy cuffs with metal stands. The most striking feature of the room's design is the set of tribal sculptures from the clients' own collection, which draw the eye to the incredible views beyond.
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A wraparound terrace off the master suite looks down onto the lower terrace where Christian Liaigre’s Courrier dining table and Archipel chairs create an outdoor dining space. Limestone sliced into a flagstone pattern flows directly from the indoors out.
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The travertine master bath is separated into a large walk-in shower on one side and a tub and sinks on the other. A wall of glass at the far end of the room allows for unobstructed ocean views.
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The guest room is a comfortable space with a midcentury sofa and teak writing desk by Pierre Jeanneret. The armchair, also by Jeanneret, is covered in a Rogers & Goffigon fabric. Peter Beard’s “First Photo of Ahmed” photograph hangs on the wall.
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In the upper hallway gallery, Line Vautrin’s Soleil Torsade mirror hangs above a 1950’s Indian rosewood console by Pierre Jeanneret. Resting on the console are Francois Halard’s “La Maison de Verre, Detail #1” photograph and an 11th-century Torso of Vishnu sculpture.
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The brushed stainless steel and wood staircase ends at the top of the house under a large skylight. The top floor of the home is level with the street and leads to the garage.
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The glass façade on the ocean side of the home provides views and transparency that is in contrast to the intrigue and sense of privacy that the solid street level entry façade promotes.
Photography by Erhard Pfeiffer