Each day’s a vacation at this tranquil, eco-friendly Malibu compound
Cruise along Zumirez Drive on Point Dume and one finds themselves on a golden-ticket street in Malibu. It’s a place prized for its private access to exquisite beachfront, epic surf breaks and a community of well-heeled leisured privacy. That and its collection of beautiful homes.Among them, one stands out for its handcrafted island design and environmental sustainability; so much, it’s been certified LEED Platinum, the highest rating awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Built in 2009 and designed by Kalani Jensen, an architect of Hawaiian descent known for his L.A. portfolio of sleek, high-end homes, the property was created as a dream domicile for real estate agent James Respondek and his spouse Shalane. It was a shared vision, inspired by the couple’s trips to Pacific spots like Hawaii and Tahiti.
“I call it ‘Hi-Con-Zen’ (Hawaiian contemporary Zen),” James says of the home’s style.
An avid surfer, James built the custom home on a plum lot he purchased in the mid-2000s, which he loved “because it was a surf spot that I had been surfing at since the early 1980s,” he recounts, “and I always dreamed of living on that street.”
With good reason: The property is part of an exclusive group of approximately 50 neighbors who collectively own a nearby beach lot, along with its private and direct access to sand and surf.
“We are literally two minutes from one of the coolest beaches,” says James, describing the fun and ease of cruising directly to the beachfront in one’s golf cart, surfboards in tow. (Contrast this with other Point Dume associations that provide members beach access via an easement, requiring them to hike to the beach instead.)
“It provides this ability to drive down, park, and then it’s a matter of steps to the sand,” he adds. “That’s the big draw, and very appealing. I don’t think a lot of people understand the value of this street. It’s one of the best-kept secrets around.”
The compound spans a little over 1 acre and includes nearly 5,000 square feet of living space. Designed in true island style—where living takes place equally indoors and outdoors—the amount of living space increases when one factors in the number of open-air rooms on the property.
Enter through the front gates to a motor court and the three-car garage, and one quickly is in an atmosphere akin to a boutique island resort, with all the perks that come with being its only inhabitant. There’s an instant feeling of easygoing luxury and immersion in the sculpted natural beauty of Malibu.
Wafting palm trees and island landscaping set the mood, shrouded against a sunny pergola framed with beams set in an uplifting cathedral configuration. (Soaring ceilings are a design theme at the property, as are the delicate palm frond details etched into points along the home, such as staircase balustrades and balconies.)
The tidy green lawn area is covered with Dymondia margaretae, a drought-tolerant ground cover that Shalane praises for its low-maintenance, eco-friendly beauty. Then there’s an elegant salt-water pool and spa, plus plenty of spots to lounge, including a wall of poolside seating and a spacious cabana that’s ideal for naps or dining. When one is ready to rinse off from the ocean or pool, there are two outdoor showers. An edible organic garden completes the scene.
Throughout the home—indoor and outdoors—one finds glossy golden floors of Cumaru. Also known as Brazilian Teak, the hardwood is prized for its subtle graining and endless durability, including a resistance to natural elements and insects. The hardwood and polished concrete floors throughout are gently warmed by an embedded radiant heating system.
The wood floors extend past the entrance, leading to one of many lanais and outdoor living spaces linked to the interior of the home. It’s a design choice that helps blend interior and exterior environments, and aesthetically adds to the home’s earthy yet luxurious atmosphere. A further blurring of spaces is established by strategic placement of a multitude of windows, skylights and Fleetwood doors that glide open and pocket neatly into the walls.
The kitchen is a contemporary space filled with Miele appliances, smooth concrete floors and a central island topped with veiny emerald granite, and polished to a leather-textured finish. The room is the hub of this floor: From here one can access two great rooms. At one end there’s a welcoming formal living room and a dining room; at the other, a comfortable family room and open-air dining room. The setup is ideal for casual everyday living and formal special events. “It is such a great entertainment home,” says Shalane.
“Huge Fleetwood doors glide and disappear into pockets so the flow from inside to outside is very inviting. People feel comfortable because they feel connected, and they have inviting places to go.” The master is conveniently located on the ground level with sliding doors on two sides, opening to views of the pool and spa on one side, and verdant hillsides and treetops on the other. The lavish master bath includes a sumptuous tub, a doorless pebbled-floored rain shower and two walk-in closets.
Ascend the sunny curved staircase to the home’s second level, home to three airy bedroom suites and a flexible family room or studio. A delightful design feature in one of the two offices and a bedroom is a cozy loft: one with a library and secret room behind a bookcase, and the other, a child’s hideaway with a cubby room. “We had that unique roofline,” says Shalane, “and I wanted to capture that space.
It worked beautifully.” Adding to the resort feel is a central gathering room, complete with a wet bar and gleaming custom cabinetry. A covered outdoor balcony wraps around the floor as well, connecting the rooms and providing instant access to fresh Pacific breezes and vistas over your own personal resort. Views of the untamed greenbelt, a wild place flush with old-growth oak trees and a creek are enjoyed from the north side decks. The home also features ample built-in storage throughout, and a walk-in basement storage room or wine cellar.
The home has been carefully designed to offer a kaleidoscope of places to tuck away and relax or socialize, all of them with a connection to the outdoors. This feeling, of living in league with nature, is amplified by knowing that one is treading lightly on the earth while doing so. Among the home’s countless conservation features are its solar panels, which supply about 80 percent of the home’s electricity, a filtration system to purify water, and a solar thermal system to heat it.
“Our water bills are about 10 to 15 percent of our neighbors,” notes Shalane. Even the home’s generously overhanging eaves have been positioned to warm the home in winter and shield it from the heat in summer. “It’s very efficient and sustainably built,” says James.
“We decided to go green—and then we went bright green.”
Green engineering, the home’s distinctive, luxurious design and a prime Point Dume location all add up to feeling that one exists in a tiny corner of paradise. “It feels like you’ve created your dream vacation home and that’s where you’re living,” says Shalane of life at the property.
“It’s a place to completely rejuvenate. A place to calm the senses, and heighten the senses as well.”
Photography by Paul Jonason