An Immaculately Designed Five-bedroom Home in Malibu’s Coveted Serra Retreat Lives Large Without Sacrificing Intimacy
Finding a property that slots into all of these seeming contradictions would seem an impossible task until one discovers the listing for 23111 Mariposa del Oro, set within the Serra Retreat neighborhood of Malibu offered by Chris Cortazzo of Compass.
A little over a half hour’s drive north from Los Angeles and Santa Monica, the wooded knoll above Malibu Creek speaks to the history of Malibu itself and its compelling wild beauty. It was here that May Rindge, whose family owned Malibu, began construction on Laudamus Hill, her 50-room dream home, in 1928. When she died, just over a dozen years later, the unfinished building and the 26 private acres that remained of her family’s original 17,000-square-foot property were sold to the Franciscan Order that founded the peaceful refuge from which this exclusive colony gets its name and sets its tranquil tone.
Two manned 24-hour guard gates ensure the area’s security and serenity. Yet, located just beyond its borders, one finds Malibu’s triumvirate of popular shopping complexes—Malibu Country Mart, The Park at Cross Creek, and Malibu Village—that put everyday needs and wants within an easy 20-minute walk of the house. Malibu’s other favorite haunts—Nobu, Malibu Farm, and Soho House, and Surfrider Beach’s famed right-hand break—also are within strolling distance.
Like a diamond enhanced by an ideal setting, this home sparkles brilliantly within its alluring location and surroundings. Tucked into the place where Mariposa del Oro and Serra Road meet, it flirts from behind a pale stucco wall that hints at the lush one-and-a-half acre landscape enclosed within. A slender brick driveway curves around the home’s discrete front gate, which opens to a covered entryway bordered by an indoor garden where a fountain burbles under a canopy of flowers.
The best examples of the details that herald Spanish Colonial style—stone fireplaces and dense wood beams, sturdy floors, clay red tiles—are here and used to dazzling yet understated effect. Many of the home’s materials were gathered from across Europe, Mexico, and South and Central America. Their patina reinforces the aura of solidity and grace that infuses the rooms of this home.
Stepping through the home’s heavy wooden front door and into its light-filled hallway reveals an expansive sunken formal living room, warmed by a skylight that peeks through a wood-paneled and beamed ceiling. French doors on three sides of this space lead to gardens dominated by mature coral trees which bloom bright orange flowers and towering royal palms. On one side, the pool and Jacuzzi, surrounded by an expansive brick patio, rivals that of an exclusive multi-star resort.
That same seamless indoor-outdoor flow, a hallmark of life in Southern California, has been flawlessly integrated into all of the rooms on the main floor. The open-plan family room, which wraps a professionally-sized kitchen, breakfast room, and family room into a welcoming central hub, shares its outdoor space with the dining room, the expanse of which is made intimate by a domed brick ceiling. (This partnership enables a private chef and staff access to events that bring the two spaces together; an outdoor kitchen and a bar designate this space as an ideal setting for a cocktail event.)
On the family room’s den side, a garden with an outdoor fireplace provides a link to the two-bedroom guest and spa wing that showcases a professionally-equipped gym, an infrared sauna, and a steam room. Overnight guests will appreciate their ability to entertain privately without disturbing the home’s main occupants. The library, tucked just off the living room, also opens to the gardens. Its stunning features—built-in wood shelves, steel-framed windows and French door, wooden ceiling, and burnished wood floor—reimagines the home office as a space that celebrates the creativity of work.
Spaces throughout are grand with soaring ceilings and generous size. (Should there be any doubts that this home can accommodate a gala, the knowledge that scenes from “Father of the Bride” were filmed here put them to rest.) Parking for 23 guests and a staff apartment over the two double-car garages, a state-of-the-art theater, basketball court, outdoor fireplace, and lounge areas—there’s even a chicken coop and fresh fruit trees—provide plenty of flexibility when it comes to entertaining. (Meanwhile, an industrial-sized generator, whole-home water filtration system with an additional reverse osmosis drinking water unit, new A/C units, ductwork, and UV/Hepa units underline the home’s functionality.)
Imbued with the laidback feeling that is at the heart of Malibu’s beach-forward lifestyle, the home, while exquisitely designed, is equally well suited for everyday living. This is apparent in the rooms upstairs as well. Consider the master suite. Its checklist of features and materials, including large walk-in dressing areas, a beautifully tiled bathroom with a deep Turkish tub, and room for a generous seating area around a stone fireplace, are indubitably luxurious.
Yet again its warm materials and perfect proportions offer the ideal balance of elegance and ease. Waking up here to the sound of birds and the gentle breezes coming off the ocean, and glimpsing clear blue sky and rich green foliage, one is forgiven for thinking it’s all a dream. To live that dream in a house poised to support it so elegantly does, however, feel like a fantasy that only exists in reverie.
Chris Cortazzo of Compass
DRE 01190363 | 310.457.3995
List Price $13,995,000
Photographs courtesy of Chris Cortazzo