We are renovating! Peek Inside Our Beach House Inspiration

Last month, I gave you a little tour of the beach house as it is now. The fact that it has been so special to our family makes this renovation project so much more enjoyable — we can’t wait to bring its full potential to life. So today, I’m sharing an overview of exactly what we’re doing at #ZumaBeachHouse!

Over the past few months, Adam and I have spent nights and weekends working on this project—it really feels like a second full-time job (but instead of getting paid to do it, we it cost a lot of money to make it, haha) —and it’s hard to keep all this original plan a secret when there’s so much I want to share (and ask for your opinion!) it’s time to make up for lost time, for although we have worked out many visions and architectural plans, there are still many decisions to be made. Tiles, plumbing fixtures, exterior paint colors, windows… we’re about to get into the good stuff.

But before we get into the details, I wanted to zoom out and share our big picture plan so you know where we’re headed. Don’t worry, we’ll dive into the intricate design details, but before we do… here are 7 things I wanted to share about our Zuma Beach House inspiration.

above: Montauk Estate designed by Vanessa Alexander, photo of Chris Mottalini

picture of kristen kilpatrick at the surf hotel in malibu

I’m calling it, “Minimalist Beach Farm” style

(And yes, that could change, lol.) Our architect, Doug Burdge, designed the new plans to make the most of the natural environment, whether it’s a diversion for a panoramic view. ocean views or add protection to block the wind. To create the homely, warm aesthetic we are envisioning for Zuma Beach House, we will rely on the lack of decor to create a sense of peace. That means decorative details will be kept to a minimum, allowing clean lines and the lush nature outside the window to take center stage.

In keeping with the farmhouse qualities of the existing home, we are sticking to a single-storey layout with an open floor plan, large windows and sliding glass doors. And “beach” comes in with white walls, vaulted ceilings, plank closets, and an overall casual feel.

It’s no surprise that I apply a bit of minimalism here as I do with most of my design projects. My goal was to include just enough interesting elements and thought-provoking details while avoiding anything too trendy — I wanted it to feel timeless. Architecture and design create a simple picture, and then we can layer according to our taste with furniture, textiles and decorative details.

picture of teal thomsen at ashley merrill’s beach house

We’re keeping the original footprint — and adding to it

The current house is a 1950s ranch-style bungalow with low horizontal ceilings and a somewhat bizarre floor plan that makes visitors feel out of place even though it is only 1,400 square meters. We will keep the original traces of the existing house, but redo the existing interior rooms for a more streamlined layout. We’re also adding a 1000 square foot room (a large open plan kitchen with seating space) as well as arching all the ceilings so it feels airy and open. The guesthouse will keep its traces, but we will renovate the interior to turn it into a small but chic boutique hotel-style one-bedroom loft.

picture of teal thomsen at Ashley Merrill’s Beach House

Purpose? Make it a peaceful getaway

When designing any space, I start by thinking about how I want it feel when i was there. My dream is that Zuma Beach House will be full of warm energy, a happy home, filled with soul so that the beauty of nature is centered. Yes, I wanted it to be interesting and beautifully designed, but it was more important to me that we create a space that is relaxing, light, airy and purposeful — the kind of home you want to capture. stay and stay for a while.

The plan was not to have a lot of surface to clutter the house, instead negative space, even leaving a blank wall here and there. I wanted it to feel like a real refuge, a deep clean breath of fresh air that allowed me to reset whenever I was there. That means less trim, clean lines, and negative space that lets me breathe. A true vacation spot.

picture of sam frost at jodie fried’s house

Materials inspired by nature

From the very beginning of our design process, I focused heavily on the use of natural materials. I wanted every element to feel simple and a bit rustic, as close to its natural state as possible. On the outside, we use wooden and stone partitions stacked on top of each other. Inside, warm wooden cabinets and floors will line the stone countertops and fired clay tiles.

My favorite part of the current residence is the sunlight that floods the rooms, so getting plenty of natural light through the large windows and doors is a priority. We plan to use paneled doors with wooden frames inside.

picture of sam frost at jodie fried’s house

Comfort reigns supreme

At this point in my life, I want to feel comfortable all the time — and I want everyone who walks into our home to feel at ease right away. Everything in the house should make us happy — it should be filled with meaningful pieces that we love and foster memories together as a family.

My plan is to create coziness through lots of textures and soft materials, avoiding sculptural or overly stiff furniture. We are incorporating soft, ambient lighting that will make each room feel like a cocoon (more on our lighting plans coming… I still have some key decisions to make) .

Let’s talk about the fireplace, because few things put me at ease than curling up in front of a fire in the evening (especially on a chilly evening, which happens every night in Malibu.) I built a house in Austin, the original architect included a fireplace in the master bedroom. We cut it down due to budget constraints, and since then I’ve been trying to push through it. When we started building our wish list for this “fun to stay” home, I knew that if we could turn it around, a fireplace in the bedroom would bring so much joy and happiness. coziness to our lives every night we were there.

above: Montauk Estate designed by Vanessa Alexander, photo of Chris Mottalini

A neutral palette creates expansion

No surprises here, but I’m happiest with a neutral palette and I’ve learned that there’s no point in trying to fight it. Plus, keeping the palette in light, neutral tones will help the house feel larger than it really is. When the main house is completed, it will be 2500 square feet, and my vision is that it will feel much larger. We’re designing the floor plan to be as open as possible — vaulted ceilings, open living spaces, natural light, and muted color palettes create an airy feel that I love.

above: Montauk Estate designed by Vanessa Alexander, photo of Chris Mottalini

It’s all about indoor-outdoor living

The only downside to having so many windows and doors is that it doesn’t have much room to hang artwork! But I’m okay with that because they will frame the beautiful eucalyptus trees, the Santa Monica mountains and the crashing waves as the “art of nature” all around us. Doug designed the house to be completely open to the outside, blurring the boundaries whether you’re indoors or out. When in Malibu, we treat our backyard like a living room, working, playing, eating and exercising outside every chance we get. In my new house, I envision doors and windows open all the time, nights spent in fire pits, walking barefoot around the house, picking lemons and avocados from trees outside the kitchen — basically, Live outdoors as much as possible.


If you’re still reading, I’m shocked you’ve stuck with me so far, but thank you for your interest! Drop any questions you have about #ZumaBeachHouse in the comments and sign up here if you’d like to receive home updates delivered straight to your inbox. More updates soon!

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