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Publication Date: 2014-03-08

House Tours

Old World Charm: An Italian-Style Villa on the Malibu Coast

A skilled team crafts an architectural and design narrative for a villa that spins an epic Tuscan tale on the Malibu coast.

One couple and their design team create a gracious Italian-style villa on the Malibu coast. The voluminous size of the new structure would require designer Philip Nimmo to embark upon a quest for not one, but many, statement pieces. He and the wife began shopping before even breaking ground. “The things the clients collected were very eclectic,” says Nimmo, “but they serendipitously went together.” It took more than a year—and countless antiques galleries, flea markets, showrooms and art adviser Patsy Wolf Buckly—to expand that delicately calibrated aesthetic.

When it came to the structure itself, the couple had clear ideas of the direction it should take. They met with architect Paul Williger—who has spent two decades working alongside Appleton & Associates founder Marc Appleton on projects recognized for their sensitive contextual style—and asked for a home reminsicent of a Tuscan farmhouse with old-world charm. Also, says Williger, “they wanted to be able to walk through the front door and see the Queen’s Necklace.”

Embracing its climactic scene—that legendary coastline view stretching from Santa Monica to Point Dume—Williger oriented the structure to frame the Pacific, but sited it so that as the owners approach the ocean-side façade, they are redirected through two one-story garage pavilions, a motor court and then a lush entry garden.

“Your attention is taken away from the ocean,” explains Williger, who designed the residence and served as the firm’s principal-in-charge, “so that when you enter the house and experience the primary rooms, the view is rediscovered.”

Inside, Nimmo arranged the furniture with an eye for breathing space and synchronicity with the vistas. “That view is so immense and pristine,” he says. “It would be odd to feel cluttered inside and have that expanse outside.”

Keeping furniture profiles generally low also preserved the sense of longitudinal spread in the main rooms, particularly the living room, with its broad, sweeping groin vaults.“It’s not contrived at all,” Nimmo says of the home. “The personalities of the clients truly come out.”

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