Urban Spa Residence

Location:

Malibu, California

Partners In Charge:

Russell Shubin AIA

Robin Donaldson AIA

Project Team:

Mark Hershman

Contractor

Quillin Construction

Photographer:

Tom Bonner

The overarching concept for this 2,900-square-foot beach-side modern house was to transform it into an urban spa-like retreat. The house is perched along Malibu’s Pacific Coast Highway, and features access to the beach in the back. A transitional interior entry courtyard, laid with rectangular cement pavers and bordered by smooth river rock and tufted grass, introduces the primary design element of the home—a seamless union between interior and exterior spaces, with crisp linear architecture, ambulating plan, and visual access throughout.

The entry courtyard, an original space accented by a white grid of window panes houses the dining room. The graphic grid is echoed by the geometric pattern of the cabinets and shelves that lead into the minimal kitchen. True to the open plan, the kitchen seamlessly overlooks the main living space.

The interior design palette of natural woods and limestone, white walls and fabrics, frosted and clear plate-glass creates a crisp and airy environment to appreciate the Pacific Ocean setting.

The ground-floor living room and adjacent sitting room offer serene respite from the sunlit terraces beyond, with cool white and dark wood tones in the furniture and materials. Double-paned windows, which open onto the first-level terrace, offer several unrestricted views of the ocean while buffering sound (from the highway).

The upstairs rooms continue the overall theme of air, light, and water with repeating materials and colors. The well-dressed master suite faces onto a second large terrace with pocket-glass doors that fold away, converting the stepped upper terrace into a sleeping porch reminiscent of designs by Schindler and Neutra. For reclining on the teak chaises, billowing fabrics can be drawn above and alongside the terrace to shield the sun and wind, creating a lullaby of relaxation.

Openness and transformation are themes throughout and are most expressive in the master bath. Cool, ocean-blue frosted glass lines the walls and windows (that face another house on these sought-after lots). Behind the glass swing doors are the toilet and shower. Three layers of floor-to-ceiling glass form a translucent door that closes the space off from the bedroom, or opens it up to the master suite, porch, and Pacific Ocean beyond. Dark wenge wood—used throughout the house as an accent—encases the tub, vanity, and spacious closets. The rich brown color gently contrasts with the limestone counters and floors. Double mirrors are placed on poles in front of the frosted glass, rather than set into a wall.