Luxury Life and Style WestSide — Holiday 2009
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WESTERN EXPANSE: THE MALIBU HOME OF RICHARD DEAN ANDERSON
LYNN MORGAN

It took almost ten years for actor Richard dean anderson (MacGyver, Stargate SG1) to find the ideal piece of land: a two-acre hillside parcel above Point dume. There was a house on the property already; it would have to be demolished and the property re-conditioned before construction could begin.

Rick, as all the team members call him, had a clear and unwavering vision of the home he wanted to build on this malibu hillside. He hired the Kaa design Group as architects, interior designer adaline Fagen of espace in Santa monica, and contractor walt wozniak of Petersonwozniak, inc. in inglewood to realize his dream.

It was a major commitment for all involved. The project began in 2003 and wasn’t finished until 2008, due largely to issues with the city of malibu and the california coastal commission, which had put a moratorium on all new constriction in malibu. “For the first two years, no shovel hit the ground,” walt recalls.

Rick was patient at every stage of the project. “He was a dream client,” says adaline. “He was a joy to work with. He didn’t know much about design at first, but we arrived at a place of trust that allowed him to ask me questions and understand my design decisions.”

The client may not have been fluent in the language of architecture and design, but he was very expressive and articulate about his intentions.He wanted a laid-back private retreat, an idyllic setting to raise his young daughter, wylie, and to play with their two dogs, andee and daisy.

“He’s from minnesota,” explains erik evens, aia, the principal architect on the project. “He wanted this house to evoke the feeling and the memories of the farm houses and barns where he grew up.”

The vast plains and prairies of the midwest are part of the home’s dna. It is spacious, but not imposing, with a plain spoken elegance. The dormered, two-story house, situated on a gently sloping hillside is clad in unstained red cedar, left unfinished to weather and age in the elements.

“we left the exterior wood unfinished so it will age in the sun and salt air,” walt explains. ”when it gets to the right patina, we’ll come back and apply a sealant so it will stay that way.”

Because of malibu’s infamous wildfires, the house is protected by an unseen reinforcement: a sturdy envelope of fire-resistant material installed beneath the cedar skin. The exterior decks are made of ipe, a sustainably harvested hardwood that is prized for its natural flame resistance.

The corrugated roof, of imported German zinc, adds to the home’s fire safety, and contributes another, unusual element to its atmosphere.“there are no gutters,” says walt. “Rick wanted to be able to hear the sounds of rain hitting the metal roof to remind him of home.”

The house is situated to address the breathtaking views. The original plan was linear; eventually, erik incorporated a slight curve, following the sight lines of the landscape to take full advantage of the panoramic views of the ocean. The 8,000-square-foot house melds effortlessly with its surroundings.

“it opens its arms and sits in the environment graciously and naturally,” says erik.

An avid outdoorsman (the actor skis, kayaks, hikes and plays hockey), this easy relationship with its surroundings is an architectural expression of the owner’s personality and love of nature. There is nothing effete or over-refined about any aspect of this design. It is Hemingwayesque, inside and out.

“we removed a tennis court,” erik recalls, “restoring the natural contour of the land. Kaa also did the landscape design. Rick wanted a natural-appearing landscape that didn’t appear over-designed: simple and uncluttered. We used a lot of native plantings. He wanted a great expanse of grass for his daughter to play on.”

Adaline began her interior work by sorting through the actor’s stored furniture and possessions, the artifacts of other homes and previous relationships.“I was able to identify the things that really spoke to him and incorporate them into the design,” she explains. ”There were musical instruments, camera equipment, sports equipment, costumes from roles he had played, his motorcycle collection…it represented a life time of collecting and adventure.”

Her challenge was to create a domestic environment for an undomesticated personality. “Rick is an athlete and an adventurer. The first thing he said to me was that he wanted all the furniture in the living room to be moveable so he could play hockey inside! It took me a while to realize he was joking. Sort of.”

She chose furnishings that reflect Rick’s love of expansive outdoor spaces. Inside, the house owes as much to the Wild West as it does to the Midwest. Adaline filled the living room with furniture from Mimi London. It is massive, rough-hewn yet cozy. Rick loves Mimi London’s furniture,” says Adaline. “When we were in the showroom, Rick’s daughter Wylie was with us, and she was getting tired. She went and curled up on this sofa with the sheepskin upholstery, and said, ‘I want this one, Daddy,’ and just dozed off. There was no question about buying it.”

A lighting fixture from Holly Hunt hangs above the circular table from Rose Tarlow. The fireplace is framed in massive beams of reclaimed wood from a railroad installed by Exquisite Surfaces. In one corner, Adaline stands a 100-year-old antique bass. “It’s an antique I found at Digs,” she explains. “Rick’s father was a musician and played the bass, so it is a nice, personal touch.”

The Cartier-Bresson photograph is from the client’s personal collection.French doors open to the outdoor living room.

The high-ceilinged great room flows into the kitchen and the adjoining outdoor living room; this combined space is the true heart of the house. “This is where Rick and Wylie really live,” says Erik.

The great room is furnished with leather chairs and benches from Gregorius Pineo. The fireplace is rough-hewn Pennsylvania bluestone.

The kitchen, designed by Espace and Cooper Pacific, is a warm yet efficient space, designed for home cooking and informal meals. The cabinetry is made of reclaimed oak and hickory. The black walnut butcher block island is by Mimi London; the oak island is topped with red granite from Walter Zanger. The floors are re-claimed limestone, from Exquisite Surfaces.

Beneath a slanting ceiling, the upstairs landing introduces the home’s private spaces. A Spanish side table from William Switzer displays personal photographs and African masks from the Ivory Coast, found at the Kneedler-Fauchere showroom in the PDC. Above, a large-scale photograph by Sebastian Selgado is from the Peter Fetterman Gallery in Santa Monica.

“The word Rick kept repeating was ‘comfortable,’” says Adaline. “I had to discover what that meant to him.” To give the actor a comfortable master suite, she custom-designed a simple, masculine bed frame in dark, stained wood and added a Don Marty bench and a spool table by Gregorius Pineo. The stainless steel sculpture “Quad” by Ewerdt Hilgemann, from the Samuel Freeman Gallery, adds a surprising touch of sophistication to the room.

The adjoining master bath has a vintage feeling, even though all the fixtures are new, from Waterworks.

The other suite belongs to Anderson’s young daughter, Wylie. “He wanted to give her everything she wanted in a room,” says Erik. It is the only “feminine” room in the house: light-filled and airy, its French doors open up to a private balcony. The bed is from Michael Taylor and the striped chaise is from Gregorius Pineo. The ivory and gold chest of drawers is from Dessin Fowler and a tiny antique chandelier from Liz’s Antique Hardware emits light from above a vintage dollhouse.

Her adjoining bathroom also features vintage-inspired fixtures from Waterworks, including a freestanding, claw-footed tub and vintage English tiles. The most charming touch, however, is purely Wylie’s own: a wonderful collection of tub toys and rubber ducks.

Evoking the memories of a Midwestern childhood, and a mature love of nature and the outdoors, the house is mellow as a well-worn pair of cowboy boots.

“We call it the ‘cinnamon toast’ house,” says Adaline. “It’s warm, comforting and unpretentious.”
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