Life’s a Beach


Nicole Gordon Studio imagines a graceful, restful retreat by the ocean for her well-traveled clients by the ocean for her well-traveled clients

In the living room, a custom rug from Mark Nelson, a sofa from Christian Liaigre and Rammed earth walls bring the colors of the sand inside. Photos by Roger Davies.

It was dark with upholstered walls, prints and heavy woods,” recalls interior designer Nicole Gordon on the overhaul of a massive Malibu dwelling she was tasked with converting into a beach home with architect Mathieu Ribaut. Adhering to the city’s strict guidelines required the duo’s ingenuity to conjure up change within the home’s original footprint. “How do we open it up and make it feel connected to the outside?” Ribaut questioned from the start.

The custom kitchen cabinets created from white oak are surrounded by stools from Reform Gallery. Photos by Roger Davies.

The renovation began by removing a central circular staircase that bisected the living room. The upstairs entry, which funneled visitors through the private quarters, was ban- ished. They turned dark to light with the placement of white oak floors, doors and cabinetry, while Rammed earth walls brought the variegated pale colors of the sand inside and Riviera Bronze doors fully opened the back of the house. To emphasize the interiors merging with the landscape, Ribaut designed a deck that protrudes toward the Pacific Ocean.

In the dining room, a console, discovered at Timothy Brown Studio in New York, is flanked by two vintage Danish chairs from Obsolete. The whimsical fish sculptures were found at Leclaireur in Los Angeles. Photos by Roger Davies.
Photos by Roger Davies.
Chairs and a sofa from Janus et Cie, surrounding a resin table from CB2, extend the living room outdoors. Photos by Roger Davies.
In a powder room, a handmade bronze sink, set
in a custom reclaimed wood vanity, is one of a few pieces sprinkled throughout the house that Gordon found in San Miguel del Allende. Photos by Roger Davies.
In the master bedroon, bolsters from Pat McGann and linens from Deborah Sharpe covered the bed, which has a custom carved headboard. The bedside lamps are from William Laman in Montecito. Photos by Roger Davies.

Acutely aware of how salt and sun can wreak havoc on mate- rials, Gordon populated the outdoor spaces with stylish pieces from Harbour Outdoor, Janus et Cie, Room & Board and John Himmel that are designed to withstand the harsh elements. “Working out here has different rules,” she notes. “Things will corrode, oxidize, weather and fade.” She pauses. “That has to be dealt with up front.” Inside, that meant installing polished chrome fixtures throughout that sparkle in the kitchen and bath spaces that have direct access to the outdoor conditions.

A grouping of four woven chairs, upholstered in a Perennials fabric from John Himmel Decorative Arts. Photos by Roger Davies.
The materials used in both the master bathroom and the kitchen, including the white rift oak used for the cabinets and the polished chrome fixtures, bring a feeling of unity to the home and add to its feeling of expansiveness. Photos by Roger Davies.
Three French-style steel doors from Riviera Bronze open the back of the dining room to the front entryway, welcoming guests and encouraging air circulation. All of the home’s exterior lighting was found at The Urban Electric Co. Photos by Roger Davies.

To highlighting the air of casual chic that pervades this coastal enclave, Gordon and her colleagues, Daniela Schmetzer and Amy Michael, sourced vintage and antique finds from around the globe, mixing them with custom pieces and select work from celebrated craftspeople that integrated with the family’s art collec- tion. “Designing a home is a group effort,” says Gordon. The result is an inviting, eclectic mix that is at once relaxing and elegant. “It’s my client’s favorite house,” Gordon beams. “They use it, they love it and they’re so grateful for it.”

Photos by Roger Davies.