Home Of The Week
23800 Malibu Crest Drive
In so many ways, the worlds of the filmmaker and architect intersect. Where the filmmaker seeks to foreshadow and create a sense of intrigue on the screen, so does the architect, through the subtle manipulation of sight lines in the built environment. Director-turned-builder and designer Scott Gillen has mastered this technique to stunning effect, and it’s on full display in his latest residential creation — a newly constructed architectural estate he is debuting on a 360-degree promontory on one of Malibu’s most iconic sites. Sandro Dazzan of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Malibu holds the exclusive listing and calls it “one of Malibu’s most significant new homes to come on the market,” due to the unobstructed views overlooking Malibu Colony, Surfrider Beach, Serra Retreat and head-on views of the Santa Monica Bay and Catalina Island.
Surrounded by 10-foot tall teak windows, the entrance to the 10,500-square-foot main house offers the first moment of mystery. As you look through this solid teak box of glass, you see the wine room and then beyond to the living room and 75-foot elevated infinity pool, with the ocean and Catalina Island off in the distance. The box-within-a-box has the effect of a glass Rubik’s Cube, providing you with the opening scene of this captivating residence. You are instantly hooked.
“As a director, you have to bring a lot of action and energy to a shot that doesn’t move,” says Gillen, who established his company Unvarnished in 2003 and has since built over 22 homes. “So much of what you do as a director is controlling the shot. For the New Castle, I want to limit what you see and when you see it. As you move farther into the house, you discover more ‘wow’ moments.”
As soon as you enter through the 10-foot teak pivot door, you feel as if you are being led once more by Gillen’s patient direction. Bright western light floods through the interiors, giving you only a glimmer of what lurks on the other side of the long entry. Would it be … could it be that view again? Like a captive and curious soul, you follow along, lured into a large great room spanning over 5,000 square feet. The resulting experience is nothing short of cinematic, made possible by the absence of upright posts, 13-foot ceilings and expansive walls of glass to reveal uninterrupted sea reaching to the horizon line. Gillen favors such bright, big, open spaces, punctuated by what he calls “invisible walls” — pop-out living areas defined by area rugs.
To that end, every piece of furniture, linen, art and design element has been personally touched and hand-selected by his team to ensure a warm atmosphere. The kitchen cabinets are a custom-designed creation through Bulthaup. The flooring, rendered in an aged oak, was custom-milled for Unvarnished. All of the interior and exterior doors were custom-designed in teak. Custom-made furniture and lighting have been placed in the exact way that Gillen wants the future homeowner to live in the spaces. For example, he created a sitting area off to the side in the great room, where he placed two large chairs facing Surfrider Beach and the entire Santa Monica Bay, so “all you want to do is look out at the ocean.” Gillen also pays careful attention to light, making sure to orient rooms to be south facing.
He gave similar consideration to creating indoor/outdoor connections. In the second-floor master suite, for example, the bath features a custom, solid black walnut soaking tub, weighing an impressive 830 pounds, and a shower that rests wide open against a glass door to the deck — so the ocean is never far from sight. In the bedroom, Gillen created another sitting/ocean-viewing area with two chairs oriented around an area rug. A junior bedroom suite also has its own water views. A stellar drop-down media room opens to the pool, where a serene waterfall flows down next to the deck. A 4,000 square-foot detached guesthouse offers another place of serenity and solitude with two bedroom suites, a large great room, professional gym and spa.
“You should walk into this house and say, ‘I love this house,’” concludes Gillen. “People won’t be able to tell you why they love it. The vibe is just there. My job as a designer — and as a director — is to create seamless transitions across the board. You should not know how you’re being touched. Everything should fall away and be simple.”